Turkish Cinema: Going Beyond Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Yılmaz Güney

in 40th International Istanbul Film Festival

by Nikolaos Aletras

This is not the first time I have attended the Istanbul International Film Festival. It was, however, the first time that I have had the honor of actively participating in its events as a member of the FIPRESCI jury, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary.

The experience I derived through this active participation confirms what I had already known: that Istanbul Film Festival is one of the greatest film festivals in our wider region. Let us not forget that the festival is approved by FIAPF, the International Federation of Film Producers Associations!

The general conclusion I drew from my institutional participation this year in the evaluation of the National Competition films is that, in the end, Turkish cinema is not just about Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Yılmaz Güney. All of the Turkish films I watched this year were very interesting (to say the least!), with most of them characterized by a high level of film production and artistic quality. The modern yet poetic way in which Turkish cinema discusses issues that deeply affect viewers from neighboring countries is remarkable. It is a cinema with strong ethnic/ethnographic features, which touches upon key issues for its audience.

The films which constituted this year’s National Competition section left nothing undiscussed, from patriarchy and the treatment of women in Turkey today to harsh criticism of the unlawful operations of hedge funds in dealing with borrowers. In addition, the use of film genre in expressing ethnographic elements was extremely creative, original and functional. Overall, the Turkish films of the 40th Istanbul International Film Festival present innovation, high-level aesthetics and inspiring directorial approaches, giving emphasis to the main rules of dramaturgy and narration. They are characterized by high production values, while reflecting the features of Turkish ethnography.

Nikolaos Aletras
Edited by Lesley Chow