The recent news that Yilmaz Erdogan and Cem Yilmaz (both living national treasures in Turkey) have signed up for The Water Diviner might have tweaked your curiosity about the Turkish Film Industry. I’m a huge fan and confess to having been a complete Turkophile for the last twenty years.
This recent article from Variety on the health of Turkish Film, and this one from Today’s Zaman, might help put things in perspective. The Turkish economy is hotter than a bathhouse steam room in summer, and the Turkish TV and film industries are stronger than ever. Turkey’s most popular film last year, the historical epic ‘Fetih 1453’, grossed over $30 million. The impressive thing about the Turkish film market is how much Turks enjoy locally produced movies, and how they support them. Nor does it hurt the international profile of the industry when movies like Taken 2, Skyfall and The International showcase Istanbul as they have.
Venus holding the ‘golden orange’ awards (Source: yenisafak.com.tr)
The Turkish industry celebrates its achievements every year at the Golden Orange Film Festival (Altin Portakal), in Antalya (not Istanbul which has its own International Film Festival). Dubbed the “Turkish Oscars”, the Golden Orange has been around since the early sixties and is the oldest in the country. I haven’t been to the event yet but hope to get there one day soon. I’m happy to say that some of the notable award winners in recent years have also been favourite films of mine. For the uninitiated, Bal (Honey), Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Nest, Edge of Heaven, Hamam (Steam), Head On, The Magician, Hunting Season, Rhino Season and The Butterfly’s Dreaming are all great places to start your Turkish film journey if you even the slightest Turk-curious.