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BLOG Turkey’s Film Industry is Looking to Go Global

16 September 2017 / Lifestyle

Turkish films and series are the new hit

Ask any foreigner what they know about the Turkish film industry, and they may give you a bewildered look. Most can quote scenes from James Bond films shot in Turkey, or a hair-raising trail through Istanbul by Liam Nelson in the movie Taken. However, that is usually as far as it goes.

All that is set to change though, because key players in the industry are looking to take the Turkish cinema and film industry, global with long terms plan to match the esteemed status of Hollywood. While some may be sceptical about this goal, Turkey has done it before.

The Yesilcam Days

Named after the street of the same name in Istanbul, where leading Turkish film studios were based, its name translates to “green pine.” Its prime moments were 20 years from the 50s to the 70s, when directors produced a series of hit films that influenced the culture throughout the country.

In 1964, the roaring success was cemented when the Berlin film festival awarded an Oscar for the Turkish film “Dry Summer.” It was a thriving industry, and prominent universities across the country even offered filmmaking courses as part of their curriculum. Thousands of cinemas across the country reported record viewing figures.

Then it just went downhill. Many cite television as the reason for the standstill, as well as political violence, but after the coup in 1980, the industry died out. In 2002, it tried a revival and had a certain degree of success with some films featured at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

They have also kept up with advances in technology and viewer preferences having made features soap operas like Magnificent Century, a phenomenon throughout the Middle East. However, Turkey wants more so how will it propel its film industry to global audiences?


The Turkish Film Industry, Hollywood and Bollywood

For the first time in cinema history, Hollywood is pairing up with the Turkish film industry for a festival in October 2017. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has thrown their full support behind the festival, and actors, directors, studios, and scriptwriters from both Turkey and Hollywood will attend the event. Jurors from the Oscar and the Golden Globe awards will also be there.

Paramount studios will host the three-day event that will feature short and long lengths films as well as documentaries. However, star of the show will be the 2017 Turkish film, “Ayla” that tells the real-life story of a Turkish soldier, finding a young Orphan during the Korean War. Realising there is no-one to look after her, he assumes the role, but his forced return to Turkey separates them because of bureaucracy and red tape.

Turkey is not just stopping there, but also reaching out to the Indian equivalent of Hollywood that is Bollywood. Looking to attract influential directors and film companies, they are offering various financial incentives for them to shoot on location in Turkey.

Some Bollywood directors, along with leading actors, have already travelled to Turkey and shot their blockbusters. Likewise, Turkish soap operas with Hindi subtitles are a hit with Indian viewers, who cite many cultural similarities, as their reasons for the craze.

On many occasions, the Antalya region has also been the chosen destination for wealthy and influential Indians getting married. Taking over whole hotels for often four days at a time, such is the demand; government authorities waived the visa for Indians and businesses now offer package Indian wedding holidays.


Antalya Wants in On the Action

Antalya, the second most popular holiday and expat destination in the country annually holds the Golden Orange Film Festival that nets the winner a cool 50,000 euros. It is one of the most prestigious in the country, following the Istanbul equivalent. They have recently combined the national and international categories to reinforce the event and show support towards the incentive for Turkish cinema to go global.

The mayor wants more than just a film festival though. He wants to build Turkey’s equivalent of Hollywood. He says Antalya deserves to be at the hub of this global endeavour, and they want to turn the city centre and region into an international filmmaking hub.

Citing plans to build a movie studio as well as a “cinema valley,” they have also applied to the creative cities category of UNESCO to strengthen Antalya as a filmmaking mecca. Watch this space to see whether it happens, but in the meantime, film lovers can also enjoy the Annual Istanbul Film Festival held every April since 1982.

As well as hosting an international category, it highlights recent Turkish films and has already made vast achievements in getting the Turkish cinema and film industry, recognition from abroad.

Over a period spanning 30 years, they have featured international films from 109 countries and screened to audiences totalling more than 3,000, 000 people. Honouring and reviving the old Yesilcam days of the Turkish cinema industry, their participation in taking Turkish film global will eagerly be watched.




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