The Turkish cinema traced its beginnings from a private show in Paris on December 22, 1895 at the Grand Café by French brothers, Louis and Auguste Lumiere. Similar such shows came to Turkey at the Sultan’s Court, Yildz Palace and other public ones like that of Sigmund Weinberg at the Sponeck’s Beerhouse in Galatasaray’s Square.
In 1914, “The Destruction of the Russian Monument at Avastefonas” is acknowledged to be the first ever Turkish film. This was a 150 meter long documentary by Fuat Uzkinav, an army officer.
The film “The Marriage of Master Himmet” was began in 1914 but took long to finish because the actors served in the war of the Dardanelles. It was finally completed in 1918, when Uzkinav took over from Weinberg, who first worked on the project. Several other films, mostly on World War I were shot. In 1922 the first film company was formed. Muhsin Ertugrul, a theater artist switched to film direction.
He made a total of 30 films in the entire stretch of his cinematic career. His important works included the 1923 “Shirt of Fire” which was about the war for independence, starred by the first female artist, the 1931 “The Streets in Istanbul, the first film to use a soundtrack, and “A Nation Awakes” in 1932.
The influence of theater can be seen in his films. Muhsin became a very important figure of the cinema industry. In the 1950s cinema took its own form. Lutfu Akad led the pack of new directors. The theme of most films of the era was societal problems. In the 1960s the advent of television had disadvantageous effects on cinema. Cinematic films during the period dealt with the social and economic themes. In the 1980s the state supported the cinema industry.
Turkish films earned international recognition. These films were on social and psychological subjects as well as women’s rights. The films in the 1990s were fewer but they were of superior quality than before due to advances in technology, training available, international awards and state support. Theaters and big cinemas emerge, visual aspects were given focus, and outdoor theaters grew.
For a while television and videos took the attention away from cinemas, but foreign films from Europe and the US substituted for the lack of local films. The current status of Turkish cinema strikes a balance with the state’s support of the European Cinema Union and Turkish partnerships with foreign ventures. There is also a noted growth in the number of movie theaters as well as in the positive developments and changes in theater as well.
Turkish Cinema History. (2005). Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism [Internet] Available from http://www.kutur.gov.tr/EN/BelgeGostner.aspx [Accessed 17 November 2008]