The up-and-coming German director won gold in Los Angeles on Thursday night (LA time) for his film “Fidelity.”
“Fidelity” is 31-year-old Çatak's final project at the Hamburg Media School (HMS).
“The film is about courage, attitudes and the certain things you're entitled to in life,” said Çatak.
“I just wanted to make a film that captured the current political situation in Turkey.”
Entitled “Sadakat” in Turkish, the 25-minute film tells the story of Asli, a young female doctor who gives protection to a political activist at a time of mass riots and violence between police and demonstrators in Istanbul.
But when police investigate, Asli's family gets drawn into the affair.
For Çatak and his team, shooing the film was a risk in itself.
The team filmed in Istanbul in 2014, around Taksim Square – where violent clashes between police and protesters were taking place a year after 2013's mass rallies against Prime Minister Erdogan.
Çatak was born in Berlin in 1984. When he was 12 years old, he and his family moved to Istanbul, where the young Çatak finished his secondary school exams.
After taking his exams, Çatak moved back to Germany. He studied Film in Berlin before taking up a place at Hamburg Media School.
Before the ceremony in Beverly Hills, it was clear a German entry would take the prize: with all three of the finalists coming from the Federal Republic, it was simply a case of deciding which German entry would claim gold.
On the night, Dustin Loose from Baden-Württemburg Film Academy scooped second place with his short film “The Last Will” while bronze was awarded to Lower Saxony's Patrick Volrath, currently studying at the Vienna Film Academy, for his work “Everything Will Be Ok.”
This was Çatak's second appearance in LA this year. Back in January, he took the film to the city's Palm Springs Festival.
The 31-year-old was also nominated for the Student Academy Award's “foreign film” category in 2014, for his film “Wo wir sind” (“Where We Are”).
“We're unbelievably proud of our alumnus,” said Professor Richard Reitinger, chief executive and leader of film studies at HMS.
“In shooting this political film in Istanbul, he team took on a great number of difficulties, and overcame them magnificently.
“This is the third year in a row we have earned a place at the Student Oscars, and the seventh year overall. And now to win gold – it's wonderful.”
Agency wins big
Çatak is currently represented by media agency Funke & Stertz, who also represent this year's second place entrant Dustin Loose.
Peter Stertz, co-chief executive of the Funke & Stertz, told The Local: “It was lovely to see both Ilker Çatak and Dustin Loose receive their awards with so much joy, professionalism and humility.”
“The agency isn't just us but also all of the playwrights, directors and actors we represent,” Stertz added.
“They are just as delighted for Çatak and Loose as we are, and proud to be a part of the same agency.”
By Hannah Butler