Fanack Home / Turkey / Society, Media & Culture / Culture / Theatre and film

Theatre and film

There are many public (currently being privatized) and private theatre groups that are sometimes politically engaged, especially in Istanbul. The Turkish ‘sixth art’ has among its historical actors of the Ottoman Empire, such as Güllü Agop (1840-1902) and modern actors, including Genco Erkal (born 1938), Haldun Dormen (born 1928), Toto Karaca (1912-1992), Levent Kırca (born 1948), Müşfik Kenter (born 1932), Adile Naşit (1930-1987), Ali Poyrazoğlu (born 1943), and Gülriz Sururi (born 1929).

Turkey is well known for its films. The emergence of Yeşilçam (the local Cinecittà) in the 1960s popularized Turkish cinema, which became, with the help of Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984), director of films such as Hope, Friend, The Herd, and Yol (Palme d’Or, Cannes, 1982), a real political weapon.

Güney’s style dominated Turkish cinema long after its disappearance, but in the early 21st century, new artistic creations influenced by the New Wave and filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky, appeared, as in Uzak by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (born 1959). The political aspect is not as clearly expressed in these films, but they look critically at the past and the ‘sensitive issues’ of contemporary Turkey, as in the Journey to the Sun by Yeşim Ustaoğlu (born 1960) and Future Lasts Forever by Özcan Alper (born 1975). Also noteworthy is the emergence of the Turkish-German cinema, especially Head On by Fatih Akin (born 1973) and Kurdish diaspora films (A Song for Beko by Nizamettin Ariç, born 1956).

Scene from the movie Yol by Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984)
Scene from the movie Yol by Yılmaz Güney (1937-1984)
Yılmaz Güney receives the Palme d'Or in Cannes, 1982
Yılmaz Güney receives the Palme d’Or in Cannes, 1982