Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nesim Hason and New Films International

New Films International
8484 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 510 Beverly Hills, CA 90211 T: (323) 655-1050
Nesim Hason, President
Ron Gell, EVP
Sezin Sonar, VP
Mark Clark, Production

New Films International was formed in 1996 by a highly successful foreign markets distributor Nesim Hason, President and founder. Intent on bridging the distance between the United States and the rest of the world, Nesim Hason with New Films endeavors to consistently blend both foreign and American cultures by introducing American films to the foreign marketplace. With NFI’s own productions, Hason strives to introduce foreign talent to American audiences as well as introduce American actors to working abroad.

New Films is currently headquartered in Beverly Hills and also has distribution offices throughout Eastern Europe.

NFI acquires 8 - 10 titles per year through attendance at major domestic and international festivals and markets. Since 2002, the company has acquired 29 feature films for its international library, including “Game 6”, starring Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr.; “The Thing About My Folks”, starring Peter Falk and Paul Reiser; and “Missing In America”. With Academy Award-nominated David Strathairn, Danny Glover and Ron Perlman.

Following the similar successful plan Hason implemented in foreign markets in the mid-90’s, New Films has strengthen its strategic distribution partnerships by recently signing an All TV rights output deal with MGM for Latin America and 40-title Pay TV deal for Latin America, along with a US video deal with HBO. The company plans to continue to leverage these strong relationships to further their exposure and outlets in North America as well.

NFI’s 2-picture co-production deal with Holedigger Studios has added the highly acclaimed festival favorites ”Off The Map”, starring Joan Allen and Sam Elliott; and “Marie & Bruce” starring Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick. Adding to these great films is “The Dying Gaul” starring Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson and Campbell Scott; which NFI aquired through a distribution deal from Holedigger.


"New Films first entered Eastern Europe in 1993 and now offers 50,000 hours of TV programs in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and other nations commonly bypassed by companies on the path to global expansion. Last month Hason opened an office in Kazakhstan. That country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is dropping at an average annual rate of 7.9 percent, but New Films expects to show a profit this year. Hason also envisions offices in India and China, which he describes as "big, undeveloped markets, where it is very hard to do business but where there are fewer restrictions [on content and program timing] and more products can be sold."

Romania, Hason says, is the most difficult business environment he has experienced, primarily because of the high levels of political instability and runaway inflation. "It makes me nervous," he admits, "but then I grew up in Turkey, so I may be more risk tolerant than most." Hason advises executives at U.S. companies considering expansion into less-developed markets to partner with other U.S. businesses in the emerging country and to start with a small project. "We go in with one manageable project and offer partnerships or sole-supplier agreements to local television stations. We have a price advantage because there are fewer competitors and fewer restrictions on what we can sell. We’ve never lost money on a deal."

Originally printed in the April 2000 issue of Business Finance

Living & Dying

Living & Dying is a 2006 film starring Edward Furlong and Michael Madsen. The film was shot on location in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. A release date is anticipated for later in the year.

Plot summary

Living & Dying tells the story of two killers who turn the tables on a group of bank robbers after a botched heist. Under siege from the police and with hostages lives at risk, the robbers must play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse before the killers execute the hostages.

US tagline: 4 Robbers, 2 Killers, a Cellphone, and Way Too Many Guns.


* Edward Furlong .... Sam
* Michael Madsen .... Lind
* Arnold Vosloo .... Detective Rick Devlin
* Bai Ling .... Nadia
* Jordana Spiro .... Mary Jane
* Tamer Karadağlı .... Duca
* Brandy Little .... Alice
* Yelda Reynaud .... Detective Catherine Pulliam
* Deniz Akkaya .... Anne Noble
* Trent Haaga .... Max
* Maurice Ripke .... Bud
* John F. Beach .... Hodges
* Curtis Wayne .... Karl
* Libby Villari .... Miriam
* Hayden Tweedie .... Jenny
* Monica Dean .... Det. Lascar
* Matthew Tompkins .... Sgt.McCrea
* Brady Coleman .... Harold
* Matthew Posey .... Captain Burleson
* Ken Thomas .... Officer Bishop
* Tom Zembrod .... Bill
* Robin McGee .... Mr.Gris
* Malgorzata Kozuchowska .... Paulina
* Jason Hammond .... Fred
* Marvin Frank Stone III .... Uniformed command center cop
* Brandon Baker .... 21 Jump Baker
* Glenn Bradley .... Officer Walker
* Mark Andrew Clark .... Miami "Serpico" Clark
* Nicole Holt .... Onlooker
* Todd Jenkins .... Police Officer Smith
* Natalie Jones .... Bank Teller
* Steve Krieger .... Sharpshooter
* Yvonna Lynn .... Officer Hardin
* Michael Magnus .... News Camera Man
* Robert N. McLain .... Officer Dalton
* Reece Rios .... Postman
* Martha Twombly .... Officer Bonny

Produced by

* Brandon Baker .... producer
* Laszlo Bene .... line producer
* Mark Andrew Clark .... associate producer
* Elif Dağdeviren .... executive producer
* Ron Gell .... producer
* Nesim Hason .... producer
* Sezin Hason .... executive producer
* Bülent Helvacı .... executive producer
* Jon Keeyes .... producer

Pinar Toprak | Composer

Pinar Toprak

Pinar Toprak is a Turkish composer, best known for composing the film score for Behind Enemy Lines 2: Axis of Evil and the Xbox 360 video game Ninety-Nine Nights. Toprak completed her Bachelor's degree in Film Scoring at the Berklee College of Music in two years and received a Master of Music degree in composition from the California State University at the age of 22. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Prominent works

External links

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fog and Night (2007) by Turgut Yasalar

Sis ve Gece/Fog and Night (Official Site)
Written and Directed by: Turgut Yasalar based on the novel
'Sis ve Gece" by Ahmet Ümit
Cast: Uğur Polat (Member of Secret Service), Selma Ergeç (Mine), Ayten Uncuoğlu (Madam Eleni), Sara Meriç Cinbarcı (Maria), Ümit Çırak (Şeref), Tardu Flordun (Piç Neco), İlyas Salman (Cuma), Devrim Nas (Sinan), Yetkin Dikinciler (Fahri)
Released in Turkey on February 23, 2007

What happens to someone lost in İstanbul?
“Sis ve Gece” (Fog and Night) was written by Ahmet Ümit in 1996 and is now on the silver screen directed by Turgut Yasalar.

Turgut Yasalar (b. bursa 1956- ) Filmography (as director)
Sis ve Gece 2006
Nisan Yağmuru 2001
Koltuk Sevdası 2001
Can Dostum 1999
Leoparın Kuyruğu 1998
Çılgın Bediş 1996

The work targets the subconscious mind rather than consciousness. It is about secret agent Sedat’s complicated state of mind indeed. Sedat’s co-worker and close friend Yıldırım, after years of going nowhere, was killed on the job. Sedat believed it was the department that did it. Sedat was like that too; “operation warden” he calls himself. He observed while his friends risked their lives, and apart from that, he did some paper work and that was all. Neither his marriage nor his two lovely daughters can ease his pain because he is unable to do his job as required. Well, the young painter Mine maybe? Yes, for a while. But her sudden disappearance one day will undoubtedly push him deeper into depression.

Sedat takes many detours during his search for Mine. These stopovers vary from being betrayed by his own department to traps by foreign secret services, from Mine’s young lover to the organization’s infighting. Every door he knocked on would first open wide and then slam shut in his face. With Sedat, we seek answers to the question, “What can happen if someone gets lost in İstanbul?”
In her absence, Mine remains alive in Sedat’s dreams. In his dreams, Sedat consults his dead friend Yıldırım about everything, consuming his thoughts during the day. These devices direct the viewer to come and go between the conscious and subconscious. Meanwhile, we start to think that maybe the sleep state is more real than the awake state. It is also the state of mind of a whole community that is personified in Sedat: memory fluctuating between emotions and logic while the loss and sorrow are still fresh, being unable to see the remedy that is maybe just nearby, directing itself to the answers that it wants to believe.

Turgut Yasalar successfully managed to handle this well established, zigzag, and - with the weight of Ahmet Ümit - scary job. The director makes the viewers feel like strangers by avoiding the adaptation of the story to date and elicits great performances from a cast of various generations. Secret agent Sedat (Uğur Polat), his young painter lover Mine (Selma Ergeç), Mine’s neighbour Madame Eleni (Ayten Uncuoğlu) and her mentally disabled daughter Maria (Sara Meriç Cinbarcı), sharp lad Şeref (Ümit Çırak) trying to rob Madame, child traficker Piç Neco (Tardu Flordun), murderer of his father and wife Cuma (İlyas Salman), leftist second hand book-seller Sinan (Devrim Nas), leftist poet Fahri (Yetkin Dikinciler), hero of the intelligence service Yıldırım (Mehmet Güleryüz), Yıldırım’s wife Gülseren (Sema Çeyrekbaşı) who keeps questioning his death, Naci (Oktay Kaynarca) facing accusations of extrajudicial killings, Sedat’s wife Melike (Tülay Günal) waiting patiently although she is aware of everything, Mine’s mother Selma (Itır Esen) and alcoholic Metin (Savaş Akova) working as a private security guard in Germany’s coal mines, İsmet (Kemal Bekir) representing the pro-status quo in the secret service, Orhan (Levent Yılmaz) man of every era within the secret service and Sedat’s assistant Mustafa (Sinan Albayrak) who applied for the position after a newspaper ad altogether perform a parade of actors and actresses. Moreover, the roles of each of them - except for Polat - are really short! Especially the roles of Tardu Flordun ve Yetkin Dikinciler!
If you are excited to walk through the labyrinths of your mind and of Istanbul, you must see Sis ve Gece…

‘Sis ve Gece’ debuts

The Turkish film “Sis ve Gece” (Fog and Night), directed by Turgut Yasalar, who also adapted the novel to the screen, premiered Tuesday night at the Emek Cinema in Beyoğlu, the Anatolia news agency reported. Speaking to reporters at the debut, Yasalar said: “Although ‘Sis ve Gece’ is the first of Ahmet Ümit’s novels, it was a best-seller. I decided to adapt it for the screen because it contains absolutely everything that a detective story should. I fell in love with the novel.”
Author Ümit said at the premiere: “Making this film became a pleasant memory in my life. I was thrilled. Previously, some of my novels were adapted to the small screen, but this is the first time one of them has been adapted for film.” Uğur Polat, one of the protagonists in the film, stated that the actors gave their all during the shoot, adding: “I bet people who have read the novel will be satisfied by the film. I had the opportunity to work with the best actors and actresses in Turkey on this film; I’m very lucky.” The debut was attended by the stars of the film along with a multitude of invitees. “Sis ve Gece” will debut in cinemas across Turkey on Feb 23.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Özpetek’s "Saturno Contro" to start Istanbul Fest

İstanbul Int'l Film Festival to open with Özpetek’s movie

Turkish director Ferzan Özpetek's latest work, "Saturno Contro," will be shown at the opening ceremony of the 2007 İstanbul International Film Festival on March 30.

The festival, sponsored by Akbank, is due to take place between March 31-April 15. It will also be the first-ever screening of the movie and the first time in the festival's 26-year history that it will open with a film directed by a Turk.

"Saturno Contro" is currently in the post-production process and its premiere is scheduled for March in Italy. Özpetek's debut feature "Hamam" previously had international success, followed by "Harem" and "Le Fate Ignoranti."

The director won the "Best Director" and "Best Film" awards at the 38th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival with 2003's "La Finestra di Fronte," or "Facing Window."
"Saturno Contro" was filmed on location in Ostiense, Italy. It features references to astrology and collectively shows friendship, sexuality and love.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Polis (2007) by Onur Ünlü

Written and Directed by: Onur Ünlü; Cinematography by: Aras Demiray; Music by:Mehmet Erdem & Özgür Akgül, Alpuşka Alp Erkin Çakmak and Ceza Soniq; Art Direction by: Alper Yanar

Principal Cast: Haluk Bilginer (Musa Rami), Özgü Namal (Funda),Ragıp Savaş (Komiser Yılmaz), Sermiyan Midyat (Nihat),Settar Tanrıöğen (Hayri),Kaan Çakır (Tayfun Selanikli), Aylin Çalap (Sevgi),Sinan Çalışkanoğlu (Haluk), Yeşim Ceren Bozoğlu (Derya),Emel Pala (Perihan),Neşe Şayler (Yo yo ma),Engin Benli (Volkan Selanikli),Murat Cemcir (Komiser Hüseyin),Gözde Akyıldız (Ece); Produced by: Onur Ünlü, Funda Alp, A.Taner Elhan Eflatun Film Production
Turkish Release date: February 16, 2007 Official Web Site


Musa Rami, who has become a legend with his struggle against the mafia, is a police officer at homicide division. One day prior to celebrating his 63rd birthday, with a surprise party arranged by his family, he finds out that he has cancer and two months left before his death.

In these two months, will he be able to fight against the mafia that has intensified its threats against his family and simultaneously reveal his deep love to Funda, who is a university student 40 years younger than him?...

Review | Polis

Watch ‘Polis’ for entertainment

Haluk Bilginer, the protagonist of the new Turkish film "Police," said at a press conference that the film would defy clichés even before it was shot.

It is certain that "Police," the first film produced by Onur Ünlü's production company, will deviate from the norm. This is the first film in Ünlü's "National Murders Collection." One can guess from the debates that begun over the film even before it was featured that everybody interprets and enjoys clichés differently.
Let's first sum up the film's plot: Musa Rami (Bilginer) is an experienced police officer who has won many awards and medals in the homicide division of a police department and likes to do things his way. His manner of handling his job contains many clichés and the director does not hesitate to use them against him.

Rami kills one of the two sons of a family notorious for drug trafficking, which instigates a spiral of events. The other son goes after Rami to avenge his brother. Rami doesn't care, but soon his family is threatened. Threats against his freaky daughters, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren and the suicide of his daughter (though Rami believes it was a planned murder, not a suicide) puts Rami's back to the wall. His sole connection to life is with university student Funda (Özgü Namal). Funda gets help from Rami on her thesis, whose content we know nothing about, and Rami is completely blind to the outside world when he is with Funda. However, police chief Yılmaz (Ragıp Savaş), who has been trained by Rami, is displeased by Rami's happiness. Rami faces hardship after hardship. Shortly after his 63rd birthday, the doctor tells him he will die in two months. Amidst these shocks, Rami sometimes attempts to commit suicide, sometimes pursue hope in his young love and peace in prayer.

Doesn't the story sound familiar? This is the starting point from director Ünlü. He looks at this well-known story from his own ironic viewpoint and turns it upside down. However, this contorted story has won praise from certain people for its innovation, while others find it meaningless. Those who look for a straight flow of story in the film will be disappointed. They might wonder what the film's point was, or why they even watched it in the first place.

Furthermore, they will probably remember last year's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which had a similar objective and plot to "Police." On the other hand, you might greatly enjoy the film if you are fed up with the standard "intro-body-conclusion" films.
Because the film is based on irony, which has scarcely been used in Turkish films, it is quite successful in creating atmosphere. The director has paid the utmost attention to style. If Ünlü continues to shoot films, he will be able to express his intentions more successfully and present audiences with enjoyable films. All we can do is wait for his new films or watch "Police" purely for entertainment value as the director suggested.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Takva | Hit found funds in German ties

Hit found funds in German ties
Faith-based film a watershed for local biz
How do you sell a film about religion in a country that is defined by its secular constitution? That was the central challenge facing the makers of Turkish pic "Takva" (A Man's Fear of God).

Pic, bowing in Berlin's Panorama section, tells the story of Muharrem, a devout Muslim who has lived quietly in the same Istanbul neighborhood all his life. His devotion to his faith attracts the attentions of a religious group's members who, trusting his piety, offer him a job as their rent collector. The ensuing temptations of the modern world prove too much for Muharrem, and he soon begins to question himself and his relationship with God.

Although it doesn't sound much like easy viewing, the film has proved a smash in Turkey, winning nine awards at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Fest, including best actor for Erkan Can. It even outgrossed "Borat" and "Casino Royale" in its first week of release.

"We thought it would be very provocative in Turkey, especially because it shows the difference between the modern, worldly Turkey and the strong rituals of conservative Muslims. We're very surprised, and happy, that the audience and critics have responded to the film the way they have," says producer Klaus Maeck of Corazon Intl., the German shingle that co-funded the pic along with Turkish shingle Yeni Sinemacilar.

In fact, Corazon's involvement with the project was crucial to it getting made. With a modest budget of E1.2 million ($1.6 million), the Turkish side had managed to raise 80% of finance. It was the friendship between Onder Cakar, who penned the screenplay, and Corazon's Fatih Akin, who helmed 2004 Golden Bear winner "Head-On," that saw the German shingle come onboard after Akin loved his pal's script. Corazon brought with it the crucial final coin from funding body Eurimages as well as the Hamburg Film Fund.

Pic is proving something of a watershed for Turkish cinema, with its complex depiction of religion's role in Turkish society.

The modern Turkish state was founded in 1923 by Kemal Ataturk, who abolished religious laws and replaced them with secular civil institutions.

Current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially was banned from taking office in 2002 due to a criminal record after he was arrested in 1998 for reading an Islamic poem in public.

Erdogan has since distanced himself from his previous, more hardline Islamic views, but the episode, along with the ongoing debate over Turkey's accession to the EU, once more underlined the strength of the debate over whether the country should look East or West.

"It's a very delicate subject for Turkey. It takes a lot of courage to make a film like 'Takva' in Turkey. Its success has exceeded expectations," says Antalys' international relations director, Esra Even.

This makes its bow in Berlin all the more eagerly anticipated, particularly for its producers.

"If Berlin is showing an interest in new Turkish cinema like 'Takva,' it will help to spread Turkish films in Germany and internationally," says Corazon's Maeck.
Date in print: Mon., Feb. 5, 2007,

FilmSharks gets Distribution for Altioklar Film

Guido Rud's Buenos Aires-based sales company FilmSharks Intl. is showing its teeth, gobbling intl. distribution rights on Turkish psychothriller "Shattered Soul"

"Our aim is to acquire high-profile independent films, especially at early stages of production, from Argentina and anywhere else in the world," Rud told Daily Variety.

Helmed by Mustafa Altioklar and produced by Mehmet Altioklar, "Shattered Soul" signals an attempt by younger Turkish filmmakers to move into U.S.-style genre and f/x, boasting gruesome procedurals, a serial killer plot and multiple-personality plotting.

Shattered Soul/Beyza'nin Kadinlari

120 min Color/2006/Psycho Thriller/Turkish/16.9

Directed by: Mustafa Altıoklar; Written by:
Nuket Bicakci, Ebru Hacioglu
Cast: Tamer Karadagli (Fatih),Demet Evgar (Beyza),Levent Üzümcü (Doruk), Arda Kural (Naim), Engin Hepileri (Huseyin), Berrak Tüzünataç (Figen), Asli Bayram (Teacher
A number of mutilated legs found around Istanbul push the city into the terror of a serial murderer. Doruk, The Police Lieutenant Faith investigates the gruesome murders with his new expert partner. As the police follows the trail of the murderer, Beyza, a muslin woman thrown of balance with strange, occasional memory blackouts faces the truth about herself and the victims.


Berlinale | Award for Takva

In the Panorama section, Ozer Kiziltan's Turkish drama "Takva -- A Man's Fear of God," about a man whose faith is challenged by his social status, took the international critics' award.

Prizes of the FIPRESCI Juries
The juries of the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique (FIPRESCI), the international film critics association, view films from the Competition programme and the Panorama and Forum sections. They award a prize for the best film in each of these sections. The three FIPRESCI juries at the Berlinale 2007 are as follows: Phillip Bergson, Heike Hurst, Jerzy Plazewski (Competition); José Carlos Avellar [1], Jürgen Kiontke [2], Dinko Tucakovic[3](Panorama); Salome Kikaleishvili, Dana Linssen, Rüdiger Suchsland (Forum).

Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I Served The King Of England)
by Jirí Menzel

Takva (Takva - A Man's Fear Of God)
by Özer Kiziltan

Jagdhunde (Hounds)
by Ann-Kristin Reyels

[1]José Carlos Avellar, a journalist and film critic, has written for newspapers and film magazines including Jornal do Brasil (1962-1985) and Cinemais. He also contributes to online publications including, an online magazine published by UERJ, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and, an online magazine published by Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico.Mr. Avellar was cultural director of Embrafilme (1985-1987); director of Rio de Janeiro's municipal film agency, Riofilme (1994-2000); and adviser for the International Film Festival in Berlin for Brazilian cinema since 1980.
[2]Jürgen Kiontke, co-editor of the weekly journal Jungle World, author and film critic, Berlin.
[3]Dinko Tucakovic from the Yugoslav Film Archives/Jugoslovenska Kinoteka

Mennan Yapo |Premonition

"Union rules and hierarchies definitely take some time getting used to," adds Turkish-German helmer Mennan Yapo, who's completing Sony thriller "Premonition," [1] a March release starring Sandra Bullock. "I'm used to working with a much leaner machine where everybody does everything and overtime is not so much an issue."

Yapo, whose feature debut "Soundless"[2] wasn't very popular in Germany but was well received in Hollywood, took a long time to commit to a U.S. project. "It was ridiculous. I was sitting in my Berlin apartment with $5 to my name and kept turning down directing jobs in the U.S."

Eventually he chose a project where the talent understood his Teutonic idiosyncrasies (Bullock's family has German roots and she speaks the language) and thus got himself the best insurance policy any helmer can have in the business: an excellent relationship with his star.

A housewife is shocked when her husband dies in a car crash and reappears the next day. She realizes it was a premonition and tries to avoid the tragedy.

[2]The hit-man Viktor makes the biggest mistake possible in his line of work: he falls in love. The silent angel of death, who has always carried out his jobs with ice-cold precision, saves the life of the mysterious Nina.

Yapo BioFilmography
Mennan Yapo was born in 1966 the son of Turkish parents in Munich. He started his film career in 1988, working with various German distributors in marketing. In 1995, he began writing scripts in English and German, produced several shorts and appeared in Peter Greenaway’s "The Pillow Book" (1996) and in Wolfgang Becker’s "Good Bye, Lenin!" (2003). Also active as a writer, producer and director

Premonition (2007)
Lautlos (2004) ... aka Soundless (USA: DVD title)
Framed (1999)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

SPIEGEL Interview | Tavianis and "The Lark Farm"

"Why Conceal the Armenian Tragedy?"

The film "The Lark Farm" promises to be among the more controversial at this year's Berlin Film Festival. SPIEGEL spoke with the film's directors about the Armenian tragedy and how slaughtering the innocent is part of human history.

SPIEGEL: You don't hold back in showing the atrocities committed on the Armenians. Aren't you concerned about shocking your audience?

Vittorio Taviani: Each scene was historically verified, even the most gruesome. We didn't want to hide anything. The slaughtering of the innocent is part of human history and, since the Greek tragedies, part of art. On Sundays our priests deliver sermons about infanticide in Bethlehem. It remains nothing but a word when it is said in church. It is the cinema's job to show it -- not just to emphasize dramatic camera angles, but to quietly show it.

Paolo Taviani: The film isn't just about Turkey in 1915, but also about the present. There have been similar scenes in the Balkans, in Rwanda and in Sudan. We Italians murdered, and the Germans murdered. The horror can happen any time and any place. Why conceal the Armenian tragedy?

SPIEGEL: The Armenian genocide remains a blind spot in Turkey's national identity. Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist, was murdered only recently. Isn't there a concern that the film could trigger violent reactions among Turkish nationalists, similar to the reactions to the Danish cartoons?

Vittorio Taviani: We didn't think about that when we made the film.

Paolo Taviani: We aren't calling it genocide. Whether it was genocide or not is for the historians to decide. We call it a tragedy. This is not a documentary film. We have no intention of supporting any theories with our films. We relate one page from the history books through the fates of our characters. The truth is always only its own truth. At this point in our lives, we wanted to recount a collective experience through a series of personal fates, each of them unique and distressing in its own right. After all, we tell the story of the impossible love between a young Turk and an Armenian woman. The film ends with a trial in which Youssuf, the Turkish soldier, testifies about the crimes. It is not a film against Turkey. On the contrary, it is a film for everyone in Turkey who confronts history. After all, 100,000 people demonstrated in Istanbul against the murder of Hrant Dink. I am convinced that the film will be shown in Turkish schools within a few years.

SPIEGEL: Why did you cast a German actor Moritz Bleibtreu in the role of the good Turk?

Vittorio Taviani: The director is entitled to select the faces to go with his fantasies irrespective of nationality. Bleibtreu is remarkable. The cinema is always illusion. Even (Italian director Luchino) Visconti cast an American, Burt Lancaster, in his film "Gattopardo."

Paolo Taviani: Besides, we have cast a well-known actor of Turkish heritage, Tchéky Karyo, in the film. Karyo told us that after this film, he knew that he hadn't become an actor for nothing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Review | "Barda' And justice for all

(Serdar Akar)

And justice for all
Friday, February 2, 2007

Though it does not quite quench the thirst of a violence-seeking audience, Akar’s ‘Barda’ adequately raises the question of just how well the Turkish judiciary system works and where one can look for justice


Serdar Akar's latest film, 'Barda' (In the Bar) which opens today in Turkish movie theaters, claims to be the most violent Turkish film ever made.

The young director's previous feature film was 'Kurtlar Vadisi Irak' (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq), which attracted a lot of attention, especially in the U.S. media, with its portrayal of Americans in Iraq as a corrupt, kidney-trafficking, Muslim-torturing, sadistic lot. It was a Rambo rip-off that created a lot of stir among young people, including Americans, who took seriously the Polat Alemdar character (the leading character in the film's famous TV series.) In fact, the film was far from serious or convincing with its childish portrayal of good and evil.

Childish portrayal:

The same childish portrayal of good and evil is again at work in Barda. The good 'kids' are a bit too good. The young girl, Nil, is still a virgin, and her boyfriend is, too. Not only that, but he is a very skilled soccer player, something to carry a young man his age to a hero status, in a country where soccer is everyone's beloved sport, almost a national obsession. Among their group of friends, one couple has 'sinned' - she is pregnant out of wedlock. Well, they are still 'good kids' after all, so they decide to get married, which again places them squarely in the '�good kids' camp. It is only the character TGG (short for 'tekrar gözden geçirme' or 're-evaluation') who is skeptical and bitter about everything. He pays dearly for his skepticism and questioning - the group gets into trouble because of him and in the end he is punished for his 'sins.' The lesson here? "Be good and stay good, do not question too much!

Attempt at Turkish Tarantino:

The same stereotypical portrayal applies to the �bad� characters also. They are a sadistic, alcohol-drinking, ecstasy-popping, ugly, raping lot with leading 'baddie' Selim wearing a black 'wife beater,' sleeveless undershirt. They have nothing human about them, they are just 'bad.' Even though the film attempts to be a 'Turkish Tarantino movie,' this portrayal of characters prevents it. While Tarantino's evil characters have a comic, 'cool,' almost likable personalities, which make possible for the audience to identify with them, Barda's baddies are so cliché that it is impossible to like them. The same goes for the 'good kids' also - their personalities are rigidly good, so the viewer cannot identify with them either. At the end of the day, the audience is left not being able to identify with either the good or evil sides, unable to see the events in the film from any point of view, and this in return alienates them, making the film less credible.

Not violent enough:

'The film is far from imbuing the viewer with the fear of a truly violent movie. A feeling of disgust? Yes. There are so many scenes of blood and rape that at the end of the film, the viewer almost becomes accustomed to them. Actually, one leaves the theater feeling the movie was not violent enough. But that is the effect of seeing too much blood: if some of the violence was withheld and not shown, then the audience would have the opportunity to use its imagination and fill in the blanks with much more violent scenes than a camera can show. The only scene where this is achieved is where the 'Patlak' character is literally slicing Pelin, the pregnant girl, into pieces with a razor blade. All the while, we only see his arm moving and the sadistic satisfaction on his face as we hear Pelin's screams. It achieves its blood-curdling aim, just like the ear-cutting scene in Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs.'

Failure of penal system:

But besides the aimless blood and gore, the movie also wants to highlight the failure of the Turkish penal system. The casualties at the end of the night are as follows: two are killed, another crippled, all the women raped, and all of the 'good kids' very badly beaten up. They are no longer who they used to be - they are robbed of their normal lives. During the court scenes and the conversations between the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense lawyer, we learn that the judicial system does not depend on the people's conscience and it will not serve to satisfy it. The judge insists that the laws will decide the sentences. And it does - the outcome is not only unjust and insufficient but also comical in the sense that it punishes the innocent as much as the guilty. Not being able to put his conscience to rest and having sworn to become Selim's 'darkest nightmare,' the prosecutor takes things into his own hands.

Well, justice has a strange way of finding its own path in Turkey. ... The much-discussed honor killings do not only apply to women but also to men. The worst crime to go to jail for is rape. It is a known fact that the inmates do not like rapists and that they take the justice process into their own hands to punish the felon. It is sort of an honor killing, where the dishonoring party (the rapist) gets killed. This is exactly what happens in the movie, with a little help from the prosecutor. So, it is justice for all, in a country where the court justice has failed.

Barda, currently available only in Turkish without subtitles, premiers in ­movie theaters around Turkey today.

Barda (2007)| Sedar Akar

Written and Directed by Serdar Akar; Produced by Serdar Akar,Alev Gezer, Güner Korali, Serdar Temizkan(co-executive producer);Original Music by Selim Demirdelen; Cinematography by Mehmet Aksin; Film Editing by Aziz Imamoglu; Art Direction by Yavuz Fazlioglu; Cast (in credits order)Nejat Isler; Hakan Boyav; Serdar Orcin; Erdal Besikçioglu; Volga Sorgu; Dogu Alpan; Burak Altay; Melis Birkan; Nergis Ozturk; Sezen Aray; Meltem Parlak; Samil Kafkas; Salih Bademci;Sarp Aydinoglu.

Barda Web Site
/ About the Film
Violence, comes from within with no reason!
Barda is the next attempt of director Serdar Akar. He has made some remarkable films like "Gemide" (On Board) and "Dar Alanda Kisa Paslasmalar". With his new step, he tries to bring forth the violence in the Turkish society.

A group of young and gonna-be part of high society friends, gather at a bar they frequently visit. One night, some guys looking awfully scary and dangerous enters and these two classes known to live together on the streets are left to fight trapped in a bar...

The violence is everywhere in Turkey as well as the world, in the streets, in the metro, at the schools etc. but this somehow seems to be unseen by the Turkish cinema. Because, people would love to sleep and think that everything's going fine as long as the tragedy doesn't touch them. But that's not true at all. The truth is out there, in this film. Although it has some major negative sides, it's a brave step trying to show the reality...

Based upon a true story, what's happening is horrible, unbelievable and unacceptable. But you gotta see it to get to do something about it...

Mail : |
T: +90 216 537 14 96 F: +90 216 537 14 95
Address:Pasabahce Yolu, Hayal Kahvesi Antrepo D, Cubuklu/İstanbul, Turkey

Turkey gets commercial breaks

Turkey gets commercial breaks |Local biz ups quality and quantity of films
By Ali Jaafar/ Variety

LONDON -- As Turkey makes more moves toward joining the European Union, trying to reconcile its position as the bridge between East and West, its filmmakers also have crossed an artistic bridge and captured worldwide attention -- plus the attention of local auds.

Auteur helmers like Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the 2003 Palme d'Or for "Uzak," have increasingly become darlings of the international fest circuit. This year's Berlinale sees acclaimed drama "Takva" unspool in the Panorama section.

As important, however, has been the rise of mainstream, commercial Turkish cinema.

Last year saw the first time that more Turkish pics were distributed in domestic theaters than Hollywood and foreign features. What's more, Turkish auds are flocking to see local movies like never before, and production is up in the country from 17 films in 2005 to nearly 50 projects in production this year.

"There are better stories now, better directors and better distribution," says Anil Sahin of distrib Maxximum Films, which repped 2006's "Valley of the Wolves." Turkey's most costly feature ever, at $10 million, was also its biggest-grossing, with more than 4.5 million admissions and $22 million at the box office.

A number of factors have played roles in this resurgence. A watershed moment was the success of 1996 feature "Bandit," an action romp about the legendary exploits of Turkish folk hero Baran the Bandit.

" 'Bandit' showed Turkish producers that with good, modern stories, they could have huge commercial success in their country. It was also the first Turkish film to be commercially released in Europe," Sahin says.

Since then, pics such as "Vizontele," "Vizontele Tuuba" and "G.O.R.A." have traded places as Turkey's all-time B.O. champ.

Key to success of those pics has been the emergence of a private TV sector in the country, thanks largely to the deregulation of the previously state-controlled TV biz in the mid-1990s. There are now some 40 free-to-air channels in Turkey.

Popular TV personalities such as Yilmaz Erdogan, who helmed and starred in both "Vizonteli" pics, and "G.O.R.A.'s" Cem Yilmaz first came to fame and fortune on the back of successful skeins, and have been able to translate their small-screen success into big B.O. "Valley of the Wolves" initially began life as a TV series.

Casting TV stars in films also has been key to convincing TV execs to invest coin in features. "Many of the producers also fund successful primetime TV series. They are able to invest their profits into filmmaking. The popularity of the actors on these shows helps guarantee there will be good box office," says Esra Even, international relations director at Antalya Film Fest, the most prestigious in the country along with Istanbul's international annual showcase.

Increased government support for the film biz as well as greater links with Europe, especially Germany, which has a large Turkish immigrant population, also have helped the boom in production.

European film funding body Eurimages has become a major player on the Turkish film scene, providing coin for several Turkish productions, including Ceylan's "Climates," which won the Fipresci prize at last year's Cannes.

"This is very important for us. Five years ago, without this support we wouldn't have been able to finish the film," says pic's producer Zeynep Ozbatur. "Germany is a very important and interesting territory for us."

The close ties between Turkey and Germany can be seen most clearly with Fatih Akin. The German helmer of Turkish origin won the Golden Bear for his 2004 pic "Head-On," a blood-stained love story that looked at German-Turkish relations.

Akin's shingle, Corazon, subsequently co-produced "Takva."

Others in the Turkish film biz also have been keen to push industry links between the two countries, such as Maxximum Films, which has been distribbing Turkish fare in Germany for the past five years.

"We have been able to put E30 million ($39 million) back into the Turkish film industry thanks to the box office in Germany and, since 2004, other European countries such as Austria, Belgium and Switzerland," Sahin says.

"The success of 'Head-On' was a huge stepping-stone. It sold over a million tickets in Germany. Now if Turkish films play in Berlin, like 'Takva,' it multiplies its market salability by 10, maybe even 100 times. Its importance is immeasurable."

Turkish film depicts problems of modern piety

Turkish film depicts problems of modern piety By Alexandra Hudson

Reuters / Monday, February 12, 2007

BERLIN, Feb 12 (Reuters Life!) - An Istanbul clerk finds his simple, devout life turned upside down when an Islamic group employs him as its debt collector in a Turkish film which aims to show how religious devotion can be tainted by hypocrisy.

"Takva: A Man's Fear of God" is on show at the Berlin film festival and has already won prizes at home and at the Toronto International Film Festival for its stark portrayal of a man's spiritual collapse, as he finds his cherished religious principles leave him hopelessly adrift in a modern world.

"We wanted to show that if you are really determined to live your life today by an ancient ideology, you'll find out you can't. If you insist, you'll lose your mind," said the film's screenwriter Onder Cakar.

Muharrem, the main character, is at first thankful for what he is told is the chance to serve God more directly, but once given a mobile phone and fancy clothes to assist him in his work he feels ill at ease as he ventures out from his impoverished part of old Istanbul.

He enters a glitzy shopping mall for the first time and is confronted by advertising images of semi-naked women -- terrifying to an unmarried man who lives in a male-dominated society and who sees women only in his erotic nightmares.

Despite their high-blown religious rhetoric, his religious masters are corrupt and focused on making money. They feel little inclined to help out their poorest tenants, preferring to leave charity to others.

Finally Muharrem becomes so tainted he finds himself automatically lying and cheating himself.

"People in Turkey have responded to this film according to their own beliefs," atheist director Ozer Kiziltan told a press conference at the Berlin film festival. "Those in secular circles found it good and believe it shows the truth."

Set in a dreary, wintry Istanbul, a world away from the familiar tourist images of sunsets and minarets, the film's producers hope "Takva" can show people another side of Turkey and the complexities of Turkish society.

"This film may present for Western viewers the chance to understand Muslims also have their own values. For Muslim viewers the film could present some criticism or self-criticism to allow the chance to re-evaluate their own system of values," said Cakar.

Kiziltan believes the film also shows how Islam has not been subject to reforms or a process of enlightenment, and can subject those who observe it unquestioningly to a life of torment.

"If the Koran continues to be interpreted as it is interpreted today by people like the character of Muharrem, then they too are living bombs of madness," he said.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Review | Climates (Iklimler) by Philip French

Sunday February 11, 2007
The Observer

Climates (Iklimler)
(101 mins, 15)
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan; starring Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Nazan Kesal

Four years ago, Turkish writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes for his movie Uzak, and its main actors (both non-professional) shared the best actor award. That remarkable film centres on the difficult relationship between a divorced commercial photographer and his young, unemployed nephew from the countryside who moves into his Istanbul flat while searching for work.

It's a bleak, minimalist work about desolation and loss, though it did have one brilliantly funny sequence in which the photographer attempts to establish his superiority over his peasant nephew by watching a video of Tarkovsky's Stalker. When this highbrow film drives the bored boy to bed, he puts on a lesbian porn movie. Suddenly, the lad returns and his uncle switches to a TV channel showing a crude Turkish comedy which bores both of them to distraction.

There's a little parable in that scene about taste, honesty and posturing and in an odd way, it anticipates Ceylan's masterly, totally convincing new picture. It's clearly influenced by Tarkovsky (as well as Bergman, Antonioni, Angelopoulos and the European high-art cinema of a couple of decades ago); it features an erotic scene that one suspects is unusually strong for a Turkish movie and it ends on the location set of what appears to be a dire melodrama being made for Turkish television.

The movie is called Climates, though it might well have been called 'Seasons', because it unfolds in three parts - a sweltering summer beside the sea, an autumn accompanied by torrential rain in Istanbul and winter in the snowy mountains in eastern Turkey. The weather reflects the moods of its hero, Isa, and his relationship with his partner, Bahar, and they're played by Ceylan and his real-life wife, while the hero's parents are played by Ceylan's elderly parents.

Isa, a university teacher in his forties, is first seen in a pre-credit sequence taking photographs in a ruined temple in Kas, the holiday resort on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. He and Bahar are alone in the baking heat and seem separate from each other. She climbs a hill to look down on the site and sees him stumble without actually falling and a tear runs down her cheek. There's no music, just natural sound. The only music we hear later is a Scarlatti sonata and the tinny tinkling of a minute music box.

It's a curiously haunting opening and is followed after the credits by several more holiday scenes. In a single seven-minute take at an alfresco dinner with another couple, conversation dries up and while Bahar and Isa are at each other's throats, they never raise their voices. A break-up seems imminent. The following day on the beach, Bahar has a dream of being buried alive by Isa and he rehearses and then delivers a speech about going their own ways while remaining friends. She next tries to kill them both while on a motor scooter negotiating a road that drops precipitately into the sea. This scene ends with a long-held shot of a boat out at sea which is echoed in the final shot: life goes on oblivious to their troubled lives.

We're never told if the couple are married or just living together when they break up and, indeed, most things are left for us to infer from what we see or from hints dropped in conversation. It is never revealed what Isa teaches (archaeology? architecture? photography?), but we gather that his career has stalled, that he has an edgy relationship with a fellow teacher, rarely visits his parents and has a casual attitude towards the truth.

Bahar, an art director working in television, is a gentle, sensitive, vulnerable creature. By contrast, Isa's former girlfriend Serap is tough, mocking and married to a close friend of his. This relationship doesn't prevent him pursuing her and on their first reunion, they move on from coffee to wine and then to sex. Again with only one edit and no camera movement, Isa and Serap start making love on a sofa, fall off on to the floor and thrash around, tearing off each other's clothes in a manner even more brutal (and more convincing) than the sex between Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche in Damage

Isa, who has something of the weakness, self-deception and spiritual emptiness of the heroes of Antonioni's L'Avventura and La Notte, soon rejects Serap and, seeking a change, he considers a holiday in the sun. But a photograph in a brochure of an idyllic beach makes him think of the previous summer and Bahar, whose name apparently means spring in Turkish. So instead of heading for warmer climes, he takes a plane to the snow-covered country town in the east where Bahar is on location, shooting a peasant revenge melodrama.

He stalks her and tries to win her back, declaring that he's a changed man, that he'll go anywhere, do anything for her. She asks him to give her a truthful answer to one question. He lies. The main scene of their reunion takes place in a minibus in a seemingly endless single take that is constantly interrupted by members of the crew opening the doors to deposit film equipment. It is absolutely riveting and painfully honest. This movie is art house angst in its purest form, but I cannot imagine anyone, anywhere over the age of 30 failing to find Climates deeply affecting.

· Climates: Turkey Cinemascope, an exhibition of photographs by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is showing at the National Theatre, London SE1, until 3 March

Friday, February 09, 2007


DAS HAUS DER LERCHEN Die Avakians sind eine reiche armenische Familie. Zu ihr gehören Aram, ein Großgrundbesitzer, der in einer türkischen Kleinstadt lebt, und Assadour, ein erfolgreicher Arzt aus Venedig. Die Brüder haben sich lange nicht ge - sehen, und so vereinbaren sie ein Wiedersehen in Armenien. Während Assa dour sich auf den Besuch in der Heimat vorbereitet, beginnt der armenische Teil der Familie, den alten Herrensitz für den Besuch aus dem Aus land herzurichten. Es wird getischlert, gestrichen, repariert und auch an einen Tennisplatz wird gedacht, den es für die Italiener anzulegen gilt. Inzwischen hat sich die politische Lage dramatisch zugespitzt.

Während die Jungtürken seit ihrer Machtübernahme 1913 vom Großtürkischen Reich träumten, gehen Italien und Frankreich 1915 eine Allianz gegen die Türkei und Österreich ein. Assadour hofft vergebens, noch von Italien aus in sein Heimatland reisen zu können, denn in Armenien bricht die Hölle los. Die Jungtürken ordnen ein Massaker an der armenischen Bevölkerung an. Auch Aram und seine Familie werden in ihrem Versteck entdeckt. Die Männer werden umge bracht und die Frauen deportiert. Es ist ein Marsch in den sicheren Tod, doch die Frauen der Avakians haben einen Beschützer. Nunik, Arams Tochter, verliebt sich in einen der türkischen Offiziere. Der sorgt dafür, dass seiner Geliebten und ihrer Mutter nicht noch mehr Leid angetan wird. Doch damit sind die Frauen noch lange nicht in Sicherheit.

(+ click to enlarge)

IL ETAIT UNE FOIS EN ARMENIE Les Avakian sont une riche famille arménienne dont font partie Aram, un gros propriétaire terrien qui vit dans une bourgade turque, et Assadour, un médecin renommé de Venise. Les frères ne se sont pas vus depuis longtemps et conviennent de se retrouver en Arménie. Tandis qu’Assadour s’occupedes préparatifs pour le voyage, les membres de la famille qui vivent en Arménie remettent la vieille propriété en état pour accueillir les visiteurs de l’étranger. Des menuisiers, des peintres et d’autres artisans s’activent pour tout réparer et l’on songe même à aménager un court de tennis pour les Italiens. Entre-temps, la situation politique s’est aggravée de façon dramatique.

Tandis que les Jeunes Turcs, qui ont pris le pouvoir en 1913, rêvent désormais d’un grand empire turc, l’Italie et la France constituent en 1915 une alliance contre la Turquie et l’Autriche. Assadour espère vainement pouvoir encore retourner dans son pays natal lorsque l’enfer se déchaîne en Arménie. Les Jeunes Turcs ordonnent le massacre de la population arménienne. Aram et sa famille sont eux aussi découverts dans leur cachette. Les hommes sont exécutés et les femmes contraintes à la déportation. C’est une marche vers une mort certaine, mais les femmes de la famille Avakian ont un protecteur. Nunik, la fille d’Aram, est tombée amoureuse d’un officier turc. Il veille à ce que sa bien-aimée et le reste de la famille n’aient pas à endurer encore davantage de souffrances. Pourtant, les femmes sont encore loin d’être en sécurité.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

German Film and Migration - A History of Perception

At Home Abroad
German Film and Migration - A History of Perception

Georg Seesslen [1]
Source: German Films | Full Text From Mavi Boncuk Archives

"Angst fressen Seele auf" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek) "Katzelmacher" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek) "Erkan & Stefan" (photo courtesy of Hofmann & Voges Filmproduktion) "dealer" (photo courtesy of Trans-Film)

In the objective language of the encyclopedia, the word "migration" means "the itinerant motion of human individuals or groups resulting in a change of residence that is more than short-term." In addition, a division is made into "emigration" (leaving a country), "immigration" (entering a country) and the rarer form "permigration" (passing through a country); finally, political law distinguishes between legal and illegal migration. Seen from this point of view, migration is a movement in history expressed by figures and laws, and illustrated by brightly-colored arrows on maps. But for the individual, migration means no less than destiny; a life between fear and hope, between alienation and integration. These are stories that must be told, to aid understanding and the understanding of self, or because migration is mankind's story per se, with all its perceptions and feelings, with all its dramas and grotesques. And there are few media as capable of describing migration and its consequences in such a precise, sensual way as the cinema.


Like cinema beure in France and films by Hanif Kureishi in England, third generation cinema - with a delay of one decade - experienced a heyday in Germany during the nineties. The filmmakers formed networks and a number of films also succeeded in gaining acknowledgement at the center of (cinema) culture. Even the cinema of foreignness was developed into a kind of mainstream variation during the nineties; as in Eine unmoegliche Hochzeit (1996, Horst Johann Sczerba), it combined elements of situation comedy with issues of asylum, or as in amusing comedies such as Lupo und der Muezzin, it described minor cultural clashes in the German provinces. Despite the comic tone of such films, they are far from any illusions of trouble-free integration.


"Lola + Bilidikid" (photo © courtesy of zerofilm/Boje-Buck) "Geschwister" (photo courtesy of Trans-Film) "der schoene Tag" (photo courtesy of zerofilm/Pickpocket Film) "Auslandstournee" (photo courtesy of Mira Film)

"Ghetto Kids" (photo © BR) "Elefantenherz" (photo courtesy of Cameo Film) "Urban Guerillas" (photo © 36Pictures) "Kebab Connection" (photo © Georges Pauly)

"Kurz und schmerzlos" (photo © Wueste Film) "Was lebst Du?" (photo © ICON Film/Bettina Braun) "Gegen die Wand" (photo © Wueste Film/Kerstin Stelter)

[1] Film critic and author George Seesslen (* 1948 in Munich) studied painting, history of art and Semiologie in Munich. He lectured at different universities at home and abroad and works as a freelance writer for epd Film, Frankfurter Rundschau, Freitag, Jungle world, konkret, Der Tagesspiegel, taz and DIE ZEIT.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Brief History of a Century of Turkish Cinema

July 13, 2004 - feature
A Brief History of a Century of Turkish Cinema by Emrah Guler | Ankara- Turkish Daily News

See Also: Turkish Cinema

Scenes from Turkish Cinema The first Turkish movie was a documentary produced by Fuat Uzkinay in 1914, depicting the public's destruction of the Russian monument in Ayastefanos

From 1923 to 1939, Muhsin Ertugrul was the only film director in the country. He directed 29 films during this period, generally incorporating adaptions of plays, operettas, novels and foreign films. It could be said that Ertugrul established a monopoly over cinema which lasted for two decades, and also that it was he who introduced cinema to the Turkish people

After 1970, a new and young generation of directors emerged, but they had to cope with an increased demand for films on videocassette after 1980. 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, and the quality of films improved

Cinema, like any other form of entertainment, paints a clear picture of the social and cultural structure of a specific society. A detailed look at the history of cinema would reveal much about the social life and cultural inclinations of the specific period in question. And as with the history of cinema in general, Turkish cinema goes back a century, at about the same time that film emerged as a new technology and a form of art and entertainment in the West.

The first film screening in Turkey goes back to the 19th century, specifically in 1896, and it took place at the Yildiz Palace in Istanbul. Public shows by Sigmund Weinberger in the Beyoglu and Sehzadebasi districts of Istanbul followed the next year. Naturally, the films shown were foreign ones.

The first native Turkish movie was a documentary produced by Fuat Uzkinay in 1914 depicting the public's destruction of the Russian monument in Ayastefanos. The first thematic Turkish films were "Himmet Aga'nin Evliligi" (The Marriage of Himmet Aga), which was made from 1916-18, which was started by Weinberger and completed by Uzkinay; "Pence" (The Paw) in 1917; and "Casus" (The Spy) in 1917, the latter two by Sedat Simavi. The army-affiliated Central Cinema Directorate, a semi-military national defense society, and the Disabled Veterans Society were the film-producing organizations of that period.
The reign of Muhsin Ertugrul

In 1922 a major documentary film, "Kurtulus, Izmir Zaferi" (Independence, the Izmir Victory), was made about the First War of Independence, prior to the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The same year, the first private studio, Kemal Film (inspired most probably by Turkish commander and hero Mustafa Ataturk's middle name), commenced operations.

From 1923 to 1939, Muhsin Ertugrul was the only film director in Turkey. He directed 29 films during this period, generally incorporating adaptions of plays, operettas, novels and foreign films. The influence of the theater dating back to Uzkinay, Simavi, Ahmet Fehim and Karagozoglu was very influential in Ertugrul's work.

It could be said that Ertugrul established a monopoly over cinema which lasted for two decades, and also that it was he who introduced film to the Turkish people.

The years from 1939 to 1950 were a period of transition for Turkish cinema, during which time it was greatly influenced by the stage as well as the earthshaking developments of World War II. While there were only two film companies in 1939, the number increased to four from 1946 to 1950. After 1949, Turkish cinema was able to develop as a separate art, with a more professional caliber of talents.
Social changes from the '50s to the '70s

The equality of income distribution and the existence of the middle class achieved after the establishment of the Turkish Republic was replaced in the 1950s by an orientation towards capitalism, inequalities between higher and lower socioeconomic classes, political conservatism, migration from rural areas to cities, and an increasing consumerist culture within society.

The 1960 military coup and the 1961 Constitution which followed were interpreted by some as being valuable and revolutionary for intellectual life, bringing an air of hope and freedom to social and political life. But after some time, the progressive trends within cultural and social life unfortunately came to an end, eventually making a negative transformation into movements towards Westernization due to increasing restrictions within Turkey.

Turkish society was caught between the duality of East and West. While the West seemed to offer improvement on a material and intellectual level, the East seemed to convey spiritual, social, and cultural values; various Islamic practices; and the influential Anatolian tradition of folk culture as well.

People's everyday social life was politicized by the implementation of a variety of daily Westernized practices and the appropriation of popular Western culture as embodied in clothing, lifestyles, food, movies, and music.

The year 1965 saw a change in government. This change was the starting point of a restoration period which saw both severe inspections and tension between opposing ideologies. The beginning of the '70s were chaotic years in Turkish political life due to the rapid polarization of political groups.

These conditions caused new paths of individualization to develop, and these various paths can be grouped under the umbrella term "arabesk" (the name comes from the word "Arab," but in fact it's a Turkish cultural production and phenomenon which emphasizes the low-quality sector of art and lifestyles). The polarization of social life became more evident in mid-'70s. Interestingly, Turkish cinema flourished between the years 1965 and 1975, also known as the golden years.
A 'Golden Bear' for Turkish cinema

Between 1950 and 1966, more than 50 directors practiced the art of filmmaking in Turkey. Omer Lutfi Akad had a strong influence on the period, but in fact Osman F. Seden, Atif Yilmaz and Memduh Un made more films. Metin Erksan's film "Susuz Yaz" (Dry Summer) won the Golden Bear Award at the 1964 Berlin Film Festival. The numbers of Turkish cinema-goers and films show a constant upward trend, especially after 1958.

In the 1960s, cinema courses were included in theater department programs in the language, history and geography faculties of Ankara and Istanbul Universities and at the Ankara University Press and Publications High School. 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 during that era. The State Film Archives became the Turkish Film Archives in 1969. During the same period, the Cinema-TV Institute was established and subsequently 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 at Mimar Sinan University.
The golden years of Turkish cinema

When the decade of 1965-75 is examined, it is evident that the postwar unproductive era was over. The social movements of the '60s and society's addiction to cheap and collective entertainment was another reason for the rapid growth in filmmaking during those years. The 1960s witnessed two types of films being made in Turkey: films about the realities of society and "Yesilcam" movies that answered the needs of the newly-emerging consumerist culture.

But when the '70s finally drew to a close, the growing popularity of television, continuing economic crises, political instability, and an increase in migration led to the close of a number of film houses. At the same time, family melodramas were replaced with arabesk melodramas -- i.e., melodramas with singers, action and sex. These movies were far cheaper to produce.

Among the well-known directors of the 1960-70 period are Metin Erksan, Atif Yilmaz, Memduh Un, Halit Refig, Duygu Sagiroglu and Nevat Pesen. In 1970, the numbers of theatres and cinema-goers rose spectacularly. A record 246 million viewers could go to see their favorite movies at over 2,000 cinemas.

In 1970, approximately 220 films were made and this figure reached 300 in 1972. After this period, movies began to lose their audience to the newly nationwide TV broadcasts. After 1970, a new, young generation of directors emerged, but they had to cope with an increased demand for films on video cassette in the years after 1980. 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, and the quality of films improved.

In January 1986, a new cinema law established support for those working in cinema and music. A reorganization of the film industry began in 1987 in order to address certain problems and ensure its development. The Ministry of Culture established the "Professional Union of Owners of Turkish Works of Cinema" in the same year. The Copyrights and General Directorate of Cinema was founded in 1989, as was a Support Fund for the Cinema and Musical Arts. This fund is used to provide financial support to the film sector.
What happened after the '70s?

In the 1970s film production increased and the era of black and white films came to an end. The film industry, affected negatively by the sweeping popularity of television and economic and political developments, had to fight to regain its popularity for many years.

Yet at the same time, the '70s was a productive period in which much was achieved for the development of Turkish cinema. In fact, producers like Yilmaz Guney, Lutfi Akad, Tunc Okan, Zeki Okten, Erden Kral and Yavuz Ozkan gained considerable international recognition for their valuable work.

New names were added to this list of directors in the 1980s, including leading directors such as Ali Ozgenturk, Omer Kavur, Sinan Cetin, Serif Goren, Yavuz Turgul, and Zulfu Livaneli. Directors of the old school such as Atif Yilmaz and Tunc Basaran also made some fine films. During that time, apart from films focusing on social problems, a trend emerged which stressed individuality, especially women's search for identity. Comedy films also enjoyed a surge in popularity. And the last couple of years have seen a revival of the Turkish movie industry. Many recent Turkish films share a place alongside Hollywood films at movie houses and some have been screened at major international film festivals and competitions.

Selected Turkish Cinema Bibliography


Armes, Roy. "Yilmaz Guney." Third World Filmmaking and the West. Ed. John Downing. New York: Praeger, 1987. 119-129.

Buker, Secil. "This Film Does not End with an Ecstatic Kiss." Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey. Eds. Deniz Kandiyoti and Ayse Saktanber. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2002. 147-170.

Donmez-Colin. "New Turkish Cinema: Individual Tales of Common Concerns."Asian Cinema. 14:1. Spring 2003. 138-45.

Dorsay, Atilla. "Turkey on its own Terms." Being and Becoming: The Cinemas of Asia. Eds. Aruna Vasudev, Latkia Padgaonkar, and Rashmi Doraiswamy. New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2002. 462-483.

Dorsay, Atilla. "Turkish Cinema: Journey to the Future." Cinemaya: The Asian Film Quarterly. 47-48. Spring 2000. 92-94.

Ebiri, Bilge. "Yilmaz Guney." Senses of Cinema. ( 15 November 2006.

Erdogan, Nezih. "Mute Bodies, Disembodied Voices: Notes on Sound in Turkish Popular Cinema." Screen. 43:3. 2002. 233-249.

Erdogan, Nezih. "Narratives of Resistance: National Identity and Ambivalence in the Turkish Melodrama Between 1965 and 1975." Screen. 39:3. 1998. 259-271.

Gokturk, Deniz. "Turkish Women on German Streets: Closure and Exposure in Turkish Transnational Cinema." Spaces in European Cinema. Ed. Myrto Konstantarakos. Exeter and Portland: Intellect, 2000.

Ilal, Ersan. "Turkish Cinema." Film and Politics in the Third World. Ed. John Downing. New York: Praeger, 1987. 119-129.

Kilicbay, Baris and Emine Onaran Incirlioglu. "Interrupted Happiness: Class Boundaries and the 'Impossible Love' in Turkish Melodrama." Ephemera: Critical Dialogues on Organization. 3:3. 2003. 236-249.

Monceau, Nicolas. "Confronting Turkey's Social Realities: An Interview with Yesim Ustaoglu." Cineaste. 26:3. 2001. 28-30.

Robins, Kevin and Asu Aksoy. "Deep Nation: The National Question and Turkish Cinema Culture." Cinema and Nation. Eds. Mette Hjort and Scott Mckenzie. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. 203-221.

Simpson, Catherine. "Turkish Cinema's Resurgence: The 'Deep Nation' Unravels."Senses of Cinema. ( 15 November 2006.

Sippl, Diane. "Ceylan and Company: Autobiographical Trajectories of Cinema."Cineaction. 67. 2005. 44-57.

Suner, Asuman. "Dark Passion." Sight and Sound. 15:3. March 2005. 18-21.

Suner, Asuman. "Horror of a Different Kind: Dissonant Voices of the New Turkish Cinema." Screen: The Journal of the Society for Education in Film and Television. 45:4. 2004. 305-23.

Suner, Asuman. "Nostalgia for an Imaginary Home: Memory, Space, and Identity in the New Turkish Cinema." New Perspectives on Turkey. 27. 2002. 61-76.

Woodhead, Christine, ed. Turkish Cinema: An Introduction. London: SOAS, 1989.

Ministry-supported films take awards

Turkish films made with the support of the Ministry of Culture are garnering international acclaim and awards.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is pleased with the support being given to the rejuvenated Turkish film sector both internationally and by filmgoers in Turkey. According to a 2006 survey, the percentage of those attending domestic films in theatres rose to 52 percent from a mere 8 percent.

Among the award-winning movies supported by the Ministry are: “Uzak” (”Distant”), “İklimer” (”Climates”), “Takva”(”A man’s fear of God”), “Beş Vakit” (”Times and Winds”), “Babam ve Oğlum” (”My father and son”), “Dondurmam Gaymak” (”I scream for ice cream”), “Eve Dönüş” (”The return home”), “Eve giden yol” (”The road that leads home”), “Hacivat ve Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü?” (”Why were Hacivat and Karagöz killed?”) “Son Osmanlı-Yandım Ali” (”The Last Ottoman- I’m in trouble Ali”). The Ministry of Culture’s cinema manager, Selahattin Ertaş, indicated that the ministry is successful at supporting the right projects.

In 2005 the ministry supported “Babam ve Oğlum” with over YTL 2 million in financing. In 2006, 33 movies including “Takva” and “İklimler” were supported with YTL 6 million in funding. In the event a movie wins awards at international festivals or if they are simply unable to make a profit, the ministry will void the repayment of financing. While many of the films supported by the ministry have won awards from international festivals, none to date have been unable to make a profit. Their producers, thanks to renewed support at domestic cinemas, have been able to pay back the loans.
Ertaş noted the importance of the increasing the volume of Turkish movie viewers, adding the amount of Turks watching Turkish films has exceeded the amount that prefer Hollywood films. Ertaş said: “A sizeable community that usually never go to movie theatres started doing so with the revival of Turkish cinema.” Ertaş noted they would continue to support independent films, and were doing so with many important projects slated for release in 2007. Ertaş said that movies such as “Azul” (”Immigrant”), “Mavi Gözlü Dev” (”Blue eyed giant”), “Sis ve Gece” (”Fog and night”),”Ademin Trenleri” (”Adam’s Trains”), “Şanjan” (”Iridescence”) and “Sevgilim İstanbul” (”My love İstanbul”) will be premiere in 2007 and they expect each one of them to be a success. Ertaş said that although they were criticized for some of their choices in movies, the movies in question ultimately became huge success stories.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Berlinale Special | THE LARK FARM

Release dates for Masseria delle allodole, La (2007)
Germany 14 February 2007(Berlin International Film Festival)
Italy 4 May 2007
Berlinale Special
Wed Feb 14 21:30 Filmpalast Berlin
Thu Feb 15 17:45 Cubix 8


Directed by: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
Italy/ Bulgaria/Spain/France 2007 |122 Min. | Format 35 mm, 1:1.85 | Color
Written by: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani, Based on Antonia Arslan book; Cinematography: Giuseppe Lanci; Editing: Roberto Perpignani; Sound: Daniel Fontrodona; Music: Giuliani Taviani; Art direction: Andrea Crisanti; Set Design Laura Casalini; Visual Effects: Enrico Pieraccianni; Costumes: Lina Nerli Taviani; Make up: Massimiliano Duranti, Mauro Tamagnini; Asst. Direstor: Mimmola Girosi, Victor Bojinov; Exec. Producer: Guido Simonetti; Oriol Maymó; Producer: Gracia Volpi; Co-Producer: Gianfranco Pierantoni; Foreign Production: Steffano Dammicco; Cast: Paz Vega, Moritz Bleibtreu, Alessandro Preziosi, Ángela Molina, Arsinée Khanjian, Mohammed Bakri, Tchéky Karyo, Marianno Rigillo, Hristo Shopov, Christo Jivkov,Stefan Danailov, Linda Batista, Assen Blatechki, Marius Donkin, André Dussollier, Itzhak Finzi, Ubaldo Lo Presti, Hristo Mitzkov, Enrica Maria, Modugno, Elena Rainova, Yvonne Sciò,Maria Statoulova.

Ager 3, supported by MiBAC, in collaboration with: Rai Cinema & Eagle Pictures; in coproduction with: Nimar Studios (Sofia); Sagrera Tv, TVE (Madrid); Flach Film, France 2 Cinéma, Canal+, 27 Films Production, Ard Degeto (Paris); supported by EuroimagesCo-Production
Ager 3 / Via della Lungara, 3 I-00165 Roma |Tl.: 6-588 40 03 |F: 6-588 42 06 | E:

Synopsis: THE LARK FARM / The Avakians are a rich Armenian family. Two family members are Aram, a land-owner living in a small town in Turkey, and Assadour, a successful doctor from Venice. The brothers have not seen each other for a long time and decide to meet in Armenia. While Assadour prepares himself for his trip to his native land, the Armenian part of the family starts preparing the old family seat for their visitors from abroad. They set to work painting, joining and repairing, and even construct a tennis court for the Italians. Meanwhile, the political situation has grown more acute.

Since coming to power in 1913, the government of Young Turks has made it their goal to create one vast Turkish empire; in 1915, Italy and France enter into an alliance against Turkey and Austria. Assadour is still hoping in vain to be able to travel from Italy to his homeland when all hell breaks loose in Armenia. The Young Turks order the massacre of the Armenian people. Aram and his family are discovered in their hiding place. The men are murdered and the women are forcibly deported. Their march will surely mean their death. However, the Avakian women have a protector – Aram’s daughter, Nunik, falls in love with one of the Turkish officers, who sees to it that Nunik and her family are not subjected to any more suffering. But the women are by no means in safety yet.

Biographies: Vittorio Taviani and his brother Paolo were both born in San Miniato, Italy – Vittorio on 20.9.1929 and Paolo on 8.11.1931. Vittorio studied law in Pisa and his brother, art. Developing an interest in film, in 1954, the brothers made their first short film, SAN MINIATO, LUGLIO ’44, about their own village. They made names for themselves abroad with the 1977 work, PADRE PADRONE.

Selected Filmography:
1954 SAN MINIATO, LUGLIO ’44 short
1998 TU RIDI

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cinéma turc fin de siècle : le primat de l'identité nationale et de l'Histoire contemporaine


Cinéma turc fin de siècle : le primat de l'identité nationale et de l'Histoire contemporaine


Bien que traversant une grave crise économique, la production cinématographique turque n'en demeure pas moins une cinématographie profondément riche et diversifiée, tant par sa thématique que par son expression. Face à l'hégémonie des productions hollywoodiennes, le cinéma turc tente de survivre notamment par l'intermédiaire du fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l'Europe, dont les coproductions à dimension européenne constituent le fer de lance. Le cinéma d'auteur, soutenu par une cinéphilie toujours vaillante et par une vitalité critique, se retrouve chaque année avec les plus grands succès populaires au sein du festival international du film d'Istanbul. Si le marché cinématographique est marqué par des événements, comme la sortie de Yol en Turquie après plus de quinze ans d'interdiction, l'avènement d'une jeune génération de réalisateurs témoigne d'une maturité nouvelle du cinéma turc. En enregistrant les défis et les enjeux auxquels la Turquie est confrontée à l'aube du siècle nouveau, et en premier la question kurde, dans un contexte de rapprochement avec l'Europe, le cinéma turc plonge au cœur de l'identité nationale et de l'histoire contemporaine.

Pour citer cette recension

Nicolas MONCEAU, «Cinéma turc fin de siècle : le primat de l'identité nationale et de l'Histoire contemporaine», in Cemoti, n° 28 - Turquie-Israël : un siècle d'histoire partagée, [En ligne], mis en ligne le . URL : Consulté le 4 février 2007.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Panel Cinematic Islam - Muslims in Cinema

29. German Orientalists Day
Panel Cinematic Islam - Muslims in Cinema

Ala Al-Hamarneh and Ruth Roded

From the advent of cinema at the turn of the nineteenth century, Islamic themes were represented in European films (often spuriously) and in indigenous Middle Eastern newsreels, documentaries and dramatic films. Middle Eastern cinematic portrayals of Islam were, however, initially hampered by a tradition in large parts of the region that prohibited visual depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and other major Islamic figures (with the notable exceptions of Turkey, Iran and further eastern areas which had a history of visual presentation of Islamic themes, mainly in the fine arts). After sporadic attempts to depict Islamic religion and history in Middle Eastern cinema during the 1920s through the 1940s, a series of Arab films focusing on classical Islam were produced from the 1950s as religious authorities and political and cultural elites gradually began to recognize the impact of this audio-visual medium. Some of these cinematic presentations are popular to this day, disseminated through the media of television and video. At the same time, Middle Eastern films may have addressed contemporary Islamic practices on the margins of major plot lines.

In the wake of the rise of political Islam in the last decades, Middle Eastern governments as well as intellectual elites have harnessed television and film to offset the popularity of Islamist movements among the broad public. Religious and historical television series and critical movies were produced by Egyptian, Iranian, Lebanese, Tunisian and Algerian filmmakers. At the same time, Muslim filmmakers in the west have carried out a double dialogue with “Islamic” societies and characters, as well as with European and American culture. Their films often stereotype the self and the other in a phenomenon dubbed by Edward Said “Orientalistic Orientalism”.

The film production of Hollywood and various European countries have in general been informed by Western stereotypes and images of “the Orient” and “Islam.” The re-production and the re-presentation of such clichés by a cinematic “Eurocentric Orientalism”, as it is called by Ella Shohat, dominate the cinematic scene, although they may be nuanced by political developments.

In this panel we aim to explore theoretical aspects of cinematic presentations of alterity and of self-presentation in an age of on-going aggressive cultural globalization and in a media that was globalized from its onset. We would like to focus on various aspects of Islam and Muslims projected on the screen, such as religious practices, alternate interpretations, gender, spatial etc. Case studies of films and filmmakers are highly encouraged.

Moderated panel

Claudia Preckel: The portrayal of Kashmir mujahidun in Bollywood cinema

Abstract: The Indian Muslim community watches every film, in which Muslim life in India is portrayed with great suspicion. Several films, e.g. Gadar ("Rebellion", A. Sharma 2001) even caused communal riots. A common reproach of the Muslim community against Bollywood cinema is that it "has gone saffron," which means completely overtaken by the Hindu majority. Muslims claim that they are portrayed as the only minority, which has not become part of the Indian nation. Indeed, the portrayal of Islam in Bollywood seems to be marked my stereotypes and even misconceptions about this religion. This is further underlined the fact that Bollywood discovered its national trauma as a subject of popular films, namely the Kashmir conflict. This paper examines three films, which depict the fight of the Muslim Kashmir mujahidun, namely K. Mohammed`s Fiza (1999), V.V. Chopra`s Mission Kashmir (2000) and M. Rathnam`s Roja (1992, re-released in Hindi 2002). The paper will focus on the question as to how Islam and Islamic justification of jihad is portrayed. Further, it will address the notions of violence and the (over-) emphasis on masculinity and the idealisation of the male hero. This will be contrasted to the depiction of female every-day life in India. Thirdly, a short analysis of icons and symbols used to stress and Islamic identity will be given.

Ruth Roded: Gender and Religious Visual Messages: Disseminating the Life of the Prophet Muhammad on Film and Video

Ala Al-Hamarneh: Stereotyping the Other: Cinematic Migrations to the "West" in Egyptian Film

Ingy Al-Sayed: Portraying Muslim Activists in Egyptian Film

Eldad J. Pardo: Trauma and Gender in the Cinema of the Islamic Republic of Iran