Turkey Cinematography

Turkey Cinematography

The historical development of Turkish cinema has been singular and contradictory, heavily conditioned by serious and ancient social, economic, ethnic (the genocide of the Armenians in 1915, the harsh repression of the Kurds), political (including three military coups in the second half) of the 20th century) and of censorship. Cinema in Turkey was therefore born late and developed slowly: the first, sporadic activities in this area date back to the 1910s. There were only six feature films that were made during the Ottoman Empire. The absolutist sultan ῾Abd ul-Ḥamīd II despised inventions and new techniques; it was therefore necessary to wait until 1914 to find a cinema in Istanbul. While in Macedonia, then part of the Ottoman Empire, the pioneering brothers Manaki, Yanaki and Milton, they were shooting the documentary on the visit of Sultan Mehmet V Reşat to Monastir (today Bitola), in the rest of the Empire the difficulties for the cinema to take root were enormous. It was with some war reports signed by the officer Fuat Uzkınay during the First World War that a cinematographic tradition of the country began, starting, in 1914, with Ayastefanos Abidesinin Yıkılışı (The demolition of the Russian monument Saint Stephen) by Uzkınay, the first Turkish documentary. Sedat Simavi’s first fictional feature film, Pençe (The Claw), followed by another feature film, Casus (The Spy), both from 1917. The actor and theater director Ahmet Fehim made three films of literary inspiration: Mürebbiye (The governess), Binnaz, both from 1919, and Bican efendi vekilharç (1921, The Bican keeper). Only in the 1920s did production start on an industrial basis, thanks to the initiative of the Seden brothers who founded Kemal Film and the Ipekçi brothers who opened Ipek Film. A single director fully embodied, from 1922 to 1938, the values ​​and myths of secular republic – female emancipationism including imposed – wanted by Muṣṭafa Kemāl (Atatürk): Muhsin Ertuǧrul, of theatrical origin, who submitted the image to dramaturgical and literary sovereignty. His films are remakes of American or Swedish melodramas, or adaptations of filmed novels, comedies and tragedies. In 1931, it was his credit for the first co-production in Turkish history, with Egypt and Greece, İstanbul sokaklarında (In the streets of Istanbul), while the last film signed by Ertuğrul is also the first Turkish film in color, Halıcı Kız (1953, The carpet weaver). After the Second World War, the cinematographic language began to become de-provincial, the shooting techniques improved, the so-called generation of filmmakers opened up to ‘critical realism’ who, from 1949 to 1960, began to observe the most lacerating contradictions of the rural world and metropolitan, a journey started by Lütfi ömer Akad. His debut work, Vurun kahpeye (1949, Hit the whore), managed to combine aesthetic research and commercial success. Akad, who had closely observed the few ‘dissidents’ of the transition period, Faruk Kenç and Sadan Kamil (who had studied in Germany), was the leading exponent of Turkish cinema. With an abundant filmography (over fifty films and a television career ending), a simple writing, never miserable or sentimental,

Atıf Yılmaz was the most long-lived and eclectic of Turkish directors, making over one hundred films of all genres, (from Selvi boylum to yazmalım, 1977, Mia beloved with the red scarf, to Berdel, 1990, both with the diva and director Türkan Şoray); master of Yılmaz Güney, capable of constructing popular works with intelligence, which are presented with a good dose of experimentation and pleasure. In 1995 he grouped ten filmmakers-producers (including Erden Kıral and Ömer Kavur) into an independent production unit, Sinema Vakfi, to react to the crisis and the lack of public funding.

However, the first international awards had been won by the ‘Anatolian dramas’ of Metin Erksan, former critic, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker who often clashed with censorship, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1964 with Susuz yaz (1963, A’ summer without water), advocate of a national cinema (the so-called Ulusal) rigorous and obsessively anti-Western, based on social realism, and influenced by the writer K. Tahir, by the ‘village novels’ of Mahmut Makal and the group of writers’ progressive naturalists. The Antalya Festival was born in the same year and, thanks to some protectionist measures, production began to exceed one hundred films a year. Populist melodramas, musical films at Egyptian (arabesque) or low-cost sentimental comedies with fixed stars became the heart of commercial cinema. The wind of freedom inaugurated by the 1961 Constitution had in fact opened new horizons, political and cultural. The clash took place between the right-wing filmmakers, the nationalists (Milli) and the progressive, moderate front (Ulusal) represented by Halit Refiğ (Gurbet kuşları, 1964, The birds of exile), or revolutionary (Devrimci), who would be repressed, but he would have found in Güney his greatest exponent. A controversial figure on a personal and political level, Güney signed with Umut (1970, Hope) a sort of manifesto of the new Turkish cinema. From the prison where he spent most of the seventies, he directed (through his faithful collaborators Zeki Ökten and Şerif Gö-ren) some of his most acclaimed films at international festivals (Sürü, 1978, Il flogge; Düşman, 1979, The enemy; Yol, 1982, Palme d’Or at the Festival of Cannes). In 1980, in the aftermath of the military coup, he fled to Europe where he brought to an end the prison drama Le mur (1983; The revolt). For Turkey 2008, please check payhelpcenter.com.

Ali Özgentürk (Hazal, 1980; At, 1982, The horse), Kıral (Kanal, 1978, Canale; Der Spiegel, 1984; Mavì Sürgün, 1993, The blue exile) and Kavur (Yatik Emine, 1974, Emine the whore; Kırık bir ask hikayesi, 1981, A broken love story) made their debut as committed authors in the seventies, in the period of the hardest workers and students struggles and the great frustrated hopes, and during the eighties of liberalism and disengagement and, in Turkey, also of the third military coup. These filmmakers – and also Yavuz Özkan, author of some radical examples of militant art cinema (Maden, 1978, La mine, Demiryol, 1979, The railway, Yengeç sepeti, 1994, Basket of crabs) – will soon come into conflict with the needs industry that demanded metropolitan and bourgeois dramas or comedies’ cosmopolitan ‘and at first they will provocatively force by making films such as for example. Hazal by Özgentürk or Hakkari’de bir mevsim (1983, A season in the Hakkari) by Kıral, which appealed to audiences and international festival juries. Then, they will increasingly withdraw into symbolic-calligraphic intimism or dreamlike hermeticism (such as Anayurt Oteli’s Kavur, 1987, Hotel Madrepatria) to escape censorship and the growing vulgarity of the imaginary exploitation. A different reaction with respect to the rampant consumerist climate was constituted by the ‘white cinema’, of Islamic inspiration and violently anti-Western which was organized around the works created by Yücel Cakmaklı and Mehmet Tanrısever and close to an increasingly impetuous and widespread political movement, which came to the government in 1995. Interesting strands of auteur cinema in recent times have been the dramas of emigration to Germany and Northern Europe, the loneliness of exile and racism, the temptations of assimilation and the dramas of reintegration into the homeland. In addition to Tunç Okan, who emigrated to Sweden and director of the film that inaugurated the genre, Otobüs, also known as The bus (1976), and Bereketli Topraklar Üzerinde’s Kıral, 1979, On fertile lands, Tevfik Başer was an emblematic author with 40 QM Deutschland (1986; 40 m2 of Germany), Abschied vom falschen Paradies (1988, Farewell to false paradises) and with Lebewohl, Fremde (1991; Goodbye foreigner). Against the patriarchal society rise the films told ‘in the first person singular female’, by Bilge Olgaç (Kasık düsmani, 1984, The marriage room), inspired by a great pioneer of the thirties, the former actress Cahide Sonku, and by Türkan Şoray. Yeşim Ustaoğlu emerged especially in the 1990s after a series of short films, with Güneşe Yolculuk (1999, Journey to the Sun), on the story of a friendship between a Kurd and a Turk, at the Berlin Festival for peace, had the courage, among other things, to bring attention to the problem of the independence and dignity of the Kurdish people. Together with the latter Nuri Bilge Veylan (Mayıs sıkıntısı, 1999, Nuvole di Maggio, selected at the Berlin Film Festival; Uzak, 2002, circulated in Italy with the original title) and Zeki Demirkubuz (Yazgi, 2001, Destino; Itiraf, 2002, La confessione) form the leading trio of the new auteur cinema, daring, never hermetic, capable of often expressing clear political and social positions. Finally, two filmmakers ‘of emigration’, Ferzan Özpetek and Fatih Akın, who have been able to express, in the context of Italian cinema, also belong to Turkish culture, of millennial richness and depth, for hundreds and hundreds of years a hinge between East and West and German, their visual, expressive and commercial power.

Turkey Cinematography