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Cinema in Turkey

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A few years after the first cinematographic displays in Paris towards the end of the 19th century, the cinema also reached Turkey. Fuat Uzkınay's 1914 documentary work 'The Destruction of the Russian Munument at Ayastefonas' is generally agreed to have been the first Turkish film. 'Master Himmet's Marriage' begun in 1914 and finally completed in 1919 is another of these early works. During this time, news footage and other films about the First World War were shot. With the establishment of the first film company in 1922, the theatrical artist Muhsin Ertuğrul began directing, and his production up until the 1950s makes him the most important name in Turkish cinema. He directed some 30 films during the course of his artistic life, of which 'The Shirt of Flame' (1923) set in the War of Independence, 'The Streets of Istanbul' (1931) which is the first Turkish sound film, and 'A Nation Is Awaking' (1932) are the most important. The theatre was a strong influence in his films.

The making of films in the true language of the cinema, free from the influence of the theatre, began towards the 1950s. One of the first of these directors was Ömer Lütfi Akad. Towards the 1960s, some 60 films a year were being made. Starting from that time, directors such as Metin Erksan, Halit Refiğ, Ertem Göreç, Duygu Sağıroğlu, Nevzat Pesen and Memduh Ün produced successful films taking social problems as their subject matter. The period that began in the late 1960s, when television was having an adverse effect on the cinema, saw such prominent directors as Yılmaz Güney, Atıf Yılmaz, Süreyya Duru, Zeki Ökten, Şerif Gören, Fevzi Tuna, Ömer Kavur and Ali Özgentürk. The cinema during this time was mainly concerned with social and economic themes. Relations between the state and the cinema began to develop in the 1980s, and Turkish cinema began to be talked about on international platforms. As this process continued, films dealing with social and psychological matters and women's rights came to the fore. The 1990s saw fewer films, but of a more advanced quality. Among the reasons for this progress were the arrival of cinema studies in universities, the training of knowledgeable directors and actors and state support for the cinema. Yet another reason was international success.

Together with the spread of the cinema, movie theatres increased in number, and large cinemas began to emerge in which great importance was attached to visual aesthetics. Summer theatres in particular spread widely. There was a later fall in the number of cinemas under the influence of television and video. The gap that resulted from the small number of Turkish films being made was filled, as just about everywhere else in the world, by films made in Europe, and more especially Hollywood. In the present day, Turkish state support for the European Cinema Union (Eurimages) and the rise in the number of Turkish-foreign joint ventures has led to a rise in the number of movie theatres, as well as changes and developments in Turkish theatre itself.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Fatih Akın, Ferzan Özpetek, Abdullah Oğuz and Semih Kaplanoğlu are succesful directors of Turkish cinema in todays. Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film, 'Uzak' won Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 2003. 'The Edge Of Heaven/Yaşamın Kıyısında' which directed by Fatih Akın (2006), won the Award for Best Screenplay (Prix De Scénario) at Cannes 2007. The record holder of Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival 'Egg/Yumurta' (Semih Kaplanoğlu, 2007) was awarded  with Best 2nd Film in Estoril European Film Festival which took place in Portugal and honored with Eurimages Award by the jury of Sevilla Film Festival in Spain. Semih Kaplanoğlu was honored as the Best Director with Egg that was in the World Cinema section in Bangkok International Film Festival. Another Turkish Movie 'Bliss' (Abdullah Oğuz, 2007) has been rewarded with European Council's 'Human Rights Award'.

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