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MMG Interview with Oznur Cifci, Crushed Wings lead Actress

Why do you have a personal interest in the Crushed Wings project? 

I am very lucky as I am not a victim of domestic violence, FGM or forced marriages, but I believe that as creatives we have a responsibility to society to address the issues that we see and give them a voice. It is also something that has not been raised enough so it is great to be involved in a project that is trying to make a difference in it’s own way regarding these issues. 

Why do you think that movies are the best way to address these issues? 

Movies are a great way to lose yourself and enjoy your spare time. I think that since it is a part of everyones lives and everyone watches films, we can use films as a means of informing people of issues while providing entertainment. Unfortunately, not everybody will sit and watch a documentary or spend the time and care enough to learn about issues surrounding them in the world. Especially with something like FGM - or as it’s known female circumcision - not many people care about it as it’s not something that’s directly in their lives. What people don’t realise is that these issues are real, they are going on in India, Pakistan, Africa and even in America and in the U.K. People don’t realise that they are surrounded by these issues no matter where they live. 

Video Interview Host by : Shivani Vyas

What was your first reaction when you first found out about this project? 

I first heard about Crushed Wings through a friend and my initial purpose of contacting Lalit was merely to congratulate him on addressing such an important issue and giving a voice to all of those girls out there. Most of us probably know about forced or arranged marriages and in that situation it’s not necessarily the physical pain that’s inherent in FGM or domestic violence that we need to highlight, but the emotional pain caused by forcing such young girls who may have just come into their periods to become someones wife and bear a child. It’s important to get the message out there that this is unacceptable. 

Do you think FGM is a religious or a cultural practice? 

These issues, particularly FGM, have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years as a means of control and to restrict girls from partaking in any sexual activities. There’s this assumption that it’s a religious practice particularly common among Muslin women, but in fact no religious textbook or religion itself promotes, condones or requires FGM. In my opinion it’s more of a cultural practice that have been continued throughout history; it’s about where you live, how people perceive you and the rights that are given to you within your community as a girl or woman who has undergone FGM. 

How did you feel when you first met Lalit? 

I met Lalit recently for the first time but having spoken to him about the project for so long, we both already knew where each other stood and our opinions on Crushed Wings. I didn’t expect to get the role of Ria for many reasons, the main one being that I don’t speak Hindi/Urdu which was one of the requirements for Ria, so when I was offered the part, you can imagine how shocked and grateful I was and still am! 

What’s the story of Crushed Wings? 

Obviously I now know the story and I won’t ruin it for anyone, but what I will say is that don’t expect it to be an easy watch. These issues shouldn’t be made light of or made to be funny as they are very disturbing issues. What’s great about the project is that it’s sole purpose is to illuminate how

 traumatic, disturbing and hard life is for these victims and by no choice of their own. Even the girls who appear to have agreed to any of these practices through their own free will aren’t actually given a choice. Being raised in certain cultures, beliefs understanding of social norm that choice is taken from you; in most cases these girls are faced with agreeing or shaming and dishonouring their families and maybe even risking being disowned. Girls aren't even warned about anything they are just sprung on them at any time, at any point. Imagine walking into a room and not realising that you’re there to undergo FGM - without any form of anaesthetic or real medical equipment - or to be married off? Scary right? These are the important issues that we’re addressing in Crushed Wings.

Hopefully, through Crushed Wings we can stir a world wide discussion on FGM and the other issues and how common the practices are, and as a consequence, we can aim to educate the current generation so that they don’t just accept everything that is passed down in their culture. We can’t educate or change the older generations opinions or beliefs, they are set in their ways, but if we can change the younger generations views, then that is when we can really make a difference, then we can really change the future of these girls. 

 Oznur Cifci is a London based actress who trained at the Brian Timoney Ultimate Acting Programme under the Lee Strasberg Method.

​She is Turkish origin but she was born and raised in London.