Language Religion Handicraft Cinema Music Architecture
Turkish cinema is an important part of Turkish culture, and has flourished over the years, delivering entertainment to audiences in Turkey, expatriates across Europe, and in rare cases, the USA. Yesilcam ("Green Pine") refers to the Turkish film industry in the same way that Hollywood refers to American film.
In terms of film production, Turkey shared the same fate with many of the national cinemas of the 20th century. Film production wasnt continuous until around the 1950s and the film market in general was run by a few major import companies that struggled for domination in the most population-dense and profitable cities such as Istanbul and Izmir. Film theatres rarely ever screened any locally produced films and the majority of the programs consisted of films of the stronger western film industries, especially those of the USA, France, Italy and Germany. Attempts in film production came only from these big importers, which could rely on their strong distribution-system and their theatre-chains that would guarantee them a return-of-investment. Between the years 1896–1945, the number of locally produced films did not even reach 50 films in total, equalling to an average annual film production under one film per year. Compared to the thousands of films that have been imported and screened during the same period, it is hard to speak about a presence of film production in Turkey before the 1950s.
This would rapidly change after World War II. A total of 49 films produced in 1952 meant that within a year, more films had been produced than the Turkish industry could produce during all the previous years. During the 60s, Turkey became the fifth biggest film producer world wide and annual film production reached the 300 film benchmark just at the beginning of the 70s. Compared with the histories of other national cinemas, the achievements of the Turkish film industry after 1950 are still remarkable.
However, the impact of TV and Video as the new popular media and political turmoil in the 70s (often hand in hand with deep economical crises) caused a sharp drop in ticket sales, resulting into a long crisis starting at around 1980 and continuing until the mid-90s. The number of annual ticket sales decreased from a 90 million tickets in 1966 to 56 million tickets in 1984 and only 11 million in 1990. Accordingly the number of film theatres fell from an approximately 2000 theatres in 1966 to 854 in 1984 and 290 in 1990. During the 1990s the average number of films produced per year remained between 10-15 films, usually half of them not even making it into the theatres.
Since 1995 the situation has improved. After the year 2000, annual ticket sales reached the 20 millions and since 1995, the number of theatres continuously increased to an approximately 500 theatres country-wide. Now, Turkish films attract millions of spectators and top the blockbuster-lists, often surpassing foreign films in terms of ticket sales. However, it is difficult to speak about the existence of an industry, since most films are rather individual projects of directors who otherwise earn their living in Television, Advertising or Theatre. The distribution of these films are mainly handled by foreign companies such as Warner Bros and United International Pictures.
The Yesilcam Era
Yesilçam ("Green pine") is a metonym for the Turkish film industry, similar to Hollywood in the United States, and Pinewood in the United Kingdom. Ye?ilçam is named after Ye?ilçam Street in the Beyo?lu district of Ystanbul where many actors, directors, crew members and studios were based.
Yesilcam experienced its heyday during the 1950s-1970s, when it produced 250-350 films annually. After the 1970s, Yesilcam suffered due to the spread of television in Turkey. However, Yesilcam has seen a revival since 2002, having produced critically-acclaimed movies such as Uzak (Grand Prix (Cannes Film Festival), 2003), Babam ve O?lum and Propaganda.
Turkish actors most commonly associated with Yesilcam include:
Kadir Inanir, Turkan Soray , Yylmaz Guney, Kemal Sunal , Tarik Akan , Filiz Akin , Fatma Girik , Cüneyt Arkin , Adile Nasit , Hulya Kocyigit
Between 1950 and 1966, more than fifty movie directors practiced film arts in Turkey. Ömer Lütfi Akad strongly influenced the period, but Osman Fahir Seden, Atif Yilmaz, and Memduh Un made the most films. The film Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer), made by Metin Erksan, won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1964.
The number of cinemagoers and the number of films made record a constant increase, especially after 1958. In the 1960s, cinema courses were included in the programs of the theater departments in the Language, History and Geography faculties of Ankara University and Istanbul University, and in the Press and Publications High School of Ankara University. A cinema branch was also established in the Art History Department of the State Fine Arts Academy.
The Union of Turkish Film Producers, and the State Film Archives also were established in the 1960s. The State Film Archives became the Turkish Film Archives in 1969. During the same period, the Cinema-TV Institute was founded and annexed to the State Academy of Fine Arts. The Turkish State Archives also became part of this organization. In 1962, the Cinema-TV Institute became a department of Mimar Sinan University. Among the well-known directors of the 1960–1970 period are Metin Erksan, Atyf Yylmaz, Memduh Ün, Halit Refi?, Duygu Sa?yro?lu, Remzi Aydyn Jonturk and Nevzat Pesen. In 1970, the numbers of cinemas and cinemagoers rose spectacularly. In 2,424 cinemas, films were viewed by a record number of 247 million viewers.
In 1970, approximately 220 films were made and this figure reached 300 in 1972. Turkish cinema gave birth to its legendary stars at this period, notable examples being Kemal Sunal, Kadir Inanir, Turkan Soray and ?ener ?en. After this period however, the cinema began to lose its audiences, due to nationwide TV broadcasts. After 1970, a new and young generation of directors emerged, but they had to cope with an increased demand for video films after 1980.
Decline of Yesilcam and the Post-Yesilcam Era
Increased production costs and difficulties faced in the import of raw materials brought about a decrease in the number of films made in the 1970s, but the quality of films improved. However, the fall of cinemas popularity continued. In the early nineties, there were barely two or three movies released for a year. During this period, most of the seventies stars had either moved to TV, or were trying to rebuild the Ye?ilçams former glory. Some of the notable examples of this era are E?kyya (English: The Bandit) and Zü?ürt A?a (English: The Agha), both starring ?ener ?en. Both movies were critically and commercially acclaimed.
However, the rise of Yesilçam didnt take place until the release of Vizontele. The film was directed, written, and starred by Yylmaz Erdo?an, who was praised by his long-running sit-com Bir Demet Tiyatro, and his dedication to theatre. The movie starred the cast of his usual plays, most notably Demet Akba?, Altan Erkekli, and Cem Yylmaz. This movies huge commercial success (watched by 2.5 million viewers, which earned the movie the most viewed film for its day) brought attention to the industry. A few years later, Cem Yylmaz released his own film, G.O.R.A., which he both wrote and starred in. This, and Vizonteles sequel Vizontele Tuuba broke Vizonteles records, by achieving 3.5, and 3 million viewers respectively.
Since then larger-budgeted films produced, notable examples being Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak (English: Valley of the Wolves: Iraq), continuing the story of the controversial series Kurtlar Vadisi, (reached 4 million viewers and still holds the record), Babam ve O?lum (English: My Father and My Son), Cem Yylmazs second movie Hokkabaz (English: Magician) .
There has been a rise in more experimental films in the 2000s. Notably the 2005 feature Türev was filmed without a prewritten script and even featured candid shots of the actors. Anlat Istanbul (Istanbul Tales), an ensemble piece divided into five "mini films" got a strong reception.
The production numbers also soared in the second half of the 2000s, with 40 films in 2007, and top 4 box office hits in 2007 claimed by Turkish films, as the film industry became profitable again with improving technical quality corresponding with commercial films production costs increasing.
Although the need for a Cinema Law has been very often raised throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, until 1986 no specific law or regulation has been developed. While films have been usually treated as goods and were in that regard subject to laws regarding taxation, content-wise they were controlled by commissions that have been often criticized for being mechanism of censorship.
In the 1930s some members of the parliament raised the issue whether films would have a bad impact on children. This was a popular theme at that time, not just in Turkey, but also in the USA for example. (See: Payne Foundation Studies) Later on in the 1960s, a debate around the so-called Baykam-Law became quite famous for the tension it created amongst the parliamentarians and the stakeholders in the industry. In 1977 and 1978 some further discussions for a cinema law have been held, but without any result.
In 1986, finally, a cinema law, though highly criticised by members of the industry and the cinema intelligentsia of that time, has been passed by the parliament and is since then the fundamental legislative document regarding cinema issues in Turkey.
Laws and Regulations
On January 23, 1986, a new cinema law aimed to ensure support for those working in cinema and music. A reorganization of the film industry began in 1987 to address problems and assure its development. The Ministry of Culture established the "Professional Union of Owners of Turkish Works of Cinema" the same year.
The "Copyrights and General Directorate of Cinema" was founded in 1989 as well as a "Support Fund for the Cinema and Musical Arts". This fund is used to provide financial support to the film sector.
Rating Systems and Censorship
One of the most interesting studies on the issue of film censorship in Turkey is Alim ?erif Onarans Sinematografik Hürriyet (Cinematic Freedom), published in 1968 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but written in 1963 and being the first study in Turkey which received a PhD for a topic related to film. This study is still the most important -if not only- study on the film evaluation methods applied in Turkey before the 1950s. Onaran himself being active as a member of the Film Rating Commission in his younger years, was a true expert on the topic and his research includes also examples of the late Ottoman Period. Ironically, Onaran became one of the most important intellectuals on film in Turkey, owing his wealth of knowledge on early world film history to the years he spent watching the films he was enrolled to evaluate as a committee member.
A very interesting example on the level of absurdness that censorship could reach is mentioned in Çetin Yetkins book Siyasal Iktidar Sanata Kar?y (Political Regime vs Art), published in 1970. It tells the story of a film which was classified as "inappropriate for export" because the Evaluation Committee decided that the film contains "communist propaganda". The film-owner, who applied to the committee for being granted an export-certificate was surprised to see the decision because he mentioned on his application form that his intention was to sell a copy of the film to a distributor in the Soviet Union, the worlds leading communist country at that time.
Atif Yilmaz, Ertem Egilmez , Fatih Akin , Ferzan Ozpetek , Halit Refig , Hulki Saner , Lutfi Omer Akad , Memduh Un , Metin Erksan , Nuri Bilge Ceylan , Omer Kavur , Osman Synav , Reha Erdem , Sureyya Duru , Serif Goren , Turker Inanoglu , Yylmaz Guney , Zeki Demirkubuz , Yavuz Turgul
Adile Nasit , Ayhan Isyk , Aysen Gruda , Belgin Doruk , Cuneyt Arkyn , Ediz Hun , Ekrem Bora , Fatma Girik , Filiz Akyn , Gulsen Bubikoglu , Hale Soygazi , Halit Akcatepe , Haluk Bilginer , Hulya Avsar , Hulya Kocyigit , Itir Esen , Ilyas Salman , Kadir Inanir , Kartal Tibet , Kemal Sunal , Münir Ozkul , Sadri Alysyk , Salih Guney , Sener Sen , Tarik Akan , Tuncel Kurtiz , Turkan Soray
Atilla Ylhan Bülent Oran Erdo?an Tüna? Kemal Tahir Orhan Kemal Orhan Pamuk Safa Önal Tarik Dursun K. Yavuz Turgul
Classics Ady Vasfiye, Anayurt Oteli , Dokuzuncu Hariciye Ko?u?u , Duvar , Gelin , Hababam Synyfy , Kibar Feyzo , Maden , Muhsin Bey Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalym , Sevmek Zamany , Susuz Yaz ,Sürü , Süt Karde?ler , Tosun Pa?a , Uçurtmayy Vurmasynlar ,Umut , Uzak
Yazgy , Yol
Modern era films
Anlat Ystanbul , Be? Vakit , E?kyya , Gemide , Gönül Yarasy , Head-On , Yki Genç Kyz , Yklimler , Kader , Kasaba , Masumiyet Mayys Sykyntysy , Mustafa Hakkynda Her?ey , Türev , Uzak
Yykylmayan Adam , 3 Dev Adam , Ay?ecik series , Dünyayy Kurtaran Adam ("Turkish Star Wars") , Tarkan series , Malkoço?lu series Turist Ömer series , Nuri Alço movies
Babam ve O?lum , Beynelmilel , Beyzanyn Kadynlary , G.O.R.A. , A.R.O.G. , Recep Yvedik , Hokkabaz , Organize Y?ler , Karpuz Kabu?undan Gemiler Yapmak , Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak , Synav , Vizontele
Antalya Film Festival - The most prestigious and popular festival in Turkey. Each year participiants are rewarded with the Golden Orange for outstanding performances in categories such as best film, best director, and best actor/actress.
Ankara International Film Festival - First held in 1988. It is considered the second most prestigious film festival in Turkey
Istanbul International Film Festival - First held in the 1970s and since then sponsored by Turkish Pharma-Giant Ezcacyba?y, this annual film festival is one of the most important intellectual events in Turkey, often causing many cineastes living outside of Istanbul to go there for vacation to see the most precious examples of world film history presented there.
Adana Film Festival - Another important film festival held annually in the city of Adana. Its top award is the Golden Boll received in the past by such prominent figures as Yylmaz Güney, who himself grew up in Adana.
Ankara Flying Broom Womens Film Festival - (Turkish: Uçan Süpürge) (Flying Broom) is Turkeys only festival devoted to Feminism and Gender-Issues. The festival is held on an annual basis in Ankara. The festival aims to support young women in making their debut-films and organizes workshops on scriptwriting and film-making.
Anadolu University Cinema/TV Section, Eski?ehir
Ankara University Political Sciences Press-Cinema Section, Ankara
Beykent University Cinema Section, Istanbul
Bilkent University Communication and Design Department, Ankara
Dokuz Eylül University Cinema Section, Yzmir
Ege University Radio-TV-Cinema Department, Yzmir
Istanbul Bilgi University Cinema-TV Department, Istanbul
Istanbul Commerce University Media & Communication Systems Department, Istanbul
Istanbul University Press-Cinema Section, Istanbul
Marmara University Cinema and Press Sections, Istanbul
Mimar Sinan University Cinema Section, Istanbul
Hacettepe University Cinema Section, Ankara
Language Religion Handicraft Cinema Music Architecture