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Cinema In Turkey

 

The first screening of a foreign film in Turkey took place at the Yildiz Palace in Istanbul in 1896. In 1914 Turkey showed its first home-made documentary and by the end of WWI several Turkish feature films had appeared. The War of Independence inspired actor Muhsin Ertuğrul to establish a film company to make patriotic films. Comedies and documentaries followed, and within a decade Turkish films were winning international competitions. During the 1960s and 70s films with a political edge were being made alongside innumerable lightweight Bollywood-style movies usually lumped together and labelled Yesilcam movies. A string of cinemas opened along Istanbul's Istiklal caddesi, only to close again in the 1980s as TV siphoned off their audiences. The 1990s were an exciting decade for the national cinema,  with films being critically acclaimed both in Turkey and abroad.

 

Several Turkish directors have won worldwide recognition, most notably the late Yılmaz Güney. Joint winner of the best film award at Cannes in 1982,Yol explored the dilemmas of a group of men on weekend- release from prison, a tale that manages to be gripping and tragic at the same time, and which was forbidden to watch in Turkey until 2000. His last film, Duvar (The Wall),made before his untimely death at only 46, was a wrist-slashing prison drama. Following in Guney's footsteps, many Turkish directors continue to make political films. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's excellent Uzak(Distant) is also a bleak meditation on the lives of migrants in Turkey - it won the jury Prize at Cannes. His latest work, Iklimler (Climates) which he also stars in, looks at relationships between men and women in Turkey (plenty of scope there!) though some find it a little self-indulgent.

 

It's not all politics, though,Ferzan Ozpetek received international acclaim for Hamam (Turkish Bath), which skillfully  explores cultural nuances after a Turk living in Italy reluctantly travels to Istanbul after he inherits a hamam. It also noteworthy for addressing the hitherto hidden issue of homosexuality in Turkish society. 

A relatively new name to watch,Fatih Akın, produced the widely acclaimed Duvara Karşı (Head On) gripping and often violent spotlight on the Turkish immigrant's life in Germany (Fatih himself a Turkish-German . His documentary, Crossing the bridge: The story of Music in Istanbul, is also well worth seeking out.