Dissatisfaction with the urban existence is the overriding theme of most Turkish films in the new millennium. Women filmmakers, however, are more analytical and confrontational in addressing the political wounds, the class differences and the social and economic situations. Unlike their male counterparts who usually mystify the countryside in one-dimensional voyages, they use the countryside as a conduit through which characters confront their predicaments.
Yeşim Ustaoğlu is the leading woman filmmaker of the New Turkish Cinema, a movement that was started in the late 1990s by young and independent fi lmmakers in search of new economic, aesthetic and thematic models in interpreting Turkish national and personal identity. Starting with her first feature, İz (Traces), a psychological thriller about a disillusioned police officer, she has challenged the loss of collective memory and the impending sense of guilt. Her second fi lm, Güneşe Yolculuk (Journey to the Sun) (1999) contested the offi cial ideology of »One Nation, One Language, One Religion«, and the third, Bulutlari Beklerken (Waiting for the Clouds, 2004), questioned the offi cial history regarding the crimes against religious minorities while interrogating collective memory, the role of language in defi ning identity and the meaning of home, homeland and foreigner. With her fourth fi lm, Pandora’nın Kutusu (Pandora’s Box), Ustaoğlu explored modernism and the feeling of entrapment in tradition, while questioning memory and belonging, issues Turkish society has not been reconciled with, according to Ustaoğlu.
Pelin Esmer’s fi rst feature 11’e 10 Kala (10 to 11) reveals the evolution/erosion of the city of Istanbul, condemned to erase its memory to adapt to modernity, through the eyes of two characters in the margins, an incurable collector and his building superintendent. As their surroundings collapse in the name of progress (to construct new, so-called »earthquake-resistant« architecture), the two men, despite diff erences of age, status and background, bond over a common destiny to preserve the collective memory of the city and the archives of their time.
Belmin Söylemez’s first feature, Şimdiki Zaman (Present Tense), mirrors a similar landscape of demolitions, the results of quick riches schemes that prioritize shopping malls and boutique hotels over historical cinema halls and city parks with the policies of a progressively autocratic government that has been the target of civil protests since the Gezi events in May-June 2013.
Turning the camera to the microcosm, the family unit, the new-comer Deniz Akçay exposes a world without hope for the young in Köksüz (Nobody’s Home), where role models are absent (original Turkish title means ›without roots‹) and a young woman’s choice of a partner is less determined by her heart than by practicality (a reliable handyman).
Turkish cinema historically has been gendered. Dominated by men, the industry has represented women as mystifi catory, manipulative, objectifying, or disempowering in accordance with the social and political trends of each period. Mute characters silenced by an act of violence, physical or mental have become common in the traumatic years following the three coup d’états (particularly the 1980 military intervention) to the present, along with presentations of women as a virginal mirage or fantasy, if not invisible. It is a breath of fresh air to observe the works of women fi lmmakers who are determined to present unbiased and meaningful images of the lives of all citizens of modern Turkey (men and women alike) with all the complexity and the challenges.

_Gönül Dönmez-Colin

TR / FR / DE
Feature Film

»While Ali is prepared to start over and face the chaos of the new, the fragile little Mr Mithat – […]


Belma Baş

Short film

Living with elderly relatives in a remote old house in the mountains, the Child guardedly observes the daily routine of […]

Construction Beyoğlu

Meral Candan

Short film

»Taksim has turned into a massive construction site. Because of the Topçu Kışlası project, Taksim Gezi Park will be destroyed. […]


»Dilim Dönmüyor – Meine Zunge dreht sich nicht is a search into my family’s past and present. In fragments from […]

Image & Protest – Panel Discussion

Rüya Arzu Köksal, Emel Çelebi, Sedef Özge, Güliz Sağlam

How can citizens’ protests and art be brought together in an expedient manner? What role do video and photography play […]

Nobody’s Home

Deniz Akçay Katıksız


»I tried to show with this scenario that big dramas can find their place in the small, ordinary situations lived […]

On the Outskirts

Aysun Bademsoy


»Today, almost every documentary film brims over with commentary, leaving the images to limp after. I want viewers see something; […]

Pandora’s Box

Yeşim Ustaoğlu

TR / FR / DE

»Two entities meet up on equal terms without memory, but also without fear of contact; a utopia, briefly lived out […]

Panel discussion: Heymat

Aysun Bademsoy, Can Erdoğan-Sus, Mely Kiyak, Lale Akgün

»My way of looking at what is happening in Turkey is the perspective of a German-Turkish woman, and that is […]

Photo exhibition: Tarlabaşı: On the Edge of Transformation

Sedef Özge, Jivan Güner, Meltem Ulusoy

With fotos of: Jivan Güner, Meltem Ulusoy, Sedef Özge Istanbul is going through a huge urban transformation process. Neighborhoods located […]

Present Tense

Belmin Söylemez

Feature Film

Mina’s having problems. Divorced, she has no contact with her family and is about to be evicted from her apartment. […]


Miranda Pennell

Short film

Soldiers march in unison across a wide-open stretch of land. Director Miranda Pennell’s Tattoo acts as an overview of the […]