Republican history themed 5 movies
Up until the beginning of the new millennium, the republican era was a taboo for Turkish cinema. Although there were considerable number of films with left-wing messages, due to censor and the disconnect between producers and the public, these movies never achieved to capture neither attention of the public nor the essence of the historical issues that many problems in Turkey today are sourced from. Most of these movies were sponsored by the government and it was as if, the film makers pretended to make a critic of the Republican history with these movies.
However since late 90s, thanks to easier access to film making equipment and talent; film producers could produce and gain the attention wider public while telling stories they dared not tell before.
Here we list 5 movies worth watching in understanding the Republican era of Turkey.
Birleşen Gönüller (Two Hearts as One)
Yunus and Dilek goes to Kazakhstan from Turkey to build a school.They discover a love and loyalty story of Cennet and Niyaz. During World War II, their family has broken, Cennet had prisoned by Nazis, Niyaz was on red army.
Production: 2014 Turkiye
Director: Hasan Kiraç
Stars: Serkan Senalp, Hande Soral, Fikret Hakan
Salkim hanimin taneleri (Mrs. Salkım’s Diamonds)
The film is set in 1940s, during the period of the Varlik Vergisi (existance tax) where many non-Muslims were forced to pay higher taxes, often in an arbitrary and unrealistic way. The film follows the plight of one family and traces how they were affected by the tax and other policies directed at non-Muslim ethnic minorities. The plot has a young Armenian man named Levon who is sent to Askale along with a man who considered himself ethnic Turkish, only to find out that there was Jewish ancestry in his bloodline.
The movie is in Turkish with some parts in Armenian.
Production: 1999 Turkiye
Director: Tomris Giritlioglu
Stars: Hülya Avsar, Zafer Algöz, Güven Kiraç
Valley of the Wolves Gladio
The story is set in the turbulent 1990s. Iskender Büyük is accused of treachery and coup, and standing trial at constitutional court. This story about “GLADIO Organization” is being told from point of view of a deceived insider, and an ex-Special Forces Lt. Iskender Büyük. The movie touches on the topics such as the Ozal Assasination, February 28 Coup and Failed assasination attempt on Ocalan.
Production: 2009 Turkiye
Director: Sadullah Sentürk
Stars: Musa Uzunlar, Tugrul Çetiner, Ayfer Dönmez
Filler ve çimen (Elephants and grass)
Set in 1990’s Istanbul, Elephants and Grass looks at corruption and how it pervades every echelon of contemporary society. Even those who are ostensibly far removed from it – such as the female central character – are in a sense tainted. Director Dervis Zaim also suggests that such corruption is endemic; no one – not least the politicians – wants to make any attempt to eradicate it. They would rather have some of the corrupt money themselves: while professing to ‘clean up’ Istanbul, they actually render it even dirtier. The film contains some powerful visual images of how the broadcast media contributes to this state of affairs, by giving a platform to corrupt politicians.
Production: 2001 Turkiye
Director: Dervis Zaim
Stars: Ali Sürmeli, Sanem Çelik, Bülent Kayabas
Devrim arabalari (Cars of the Revolution)
The movie takes place in 1960s, shortly after the military took over the administration. The new head of state believes Turkey can only be independent if it is economically strong. After sounding out the weak private sector and most of the senior bureaucrats, it is clear that nobody has a similar view. So, he dares the government sector to see if anyone can design and produce a 100% original car within 4 months… One engineer shares this vision and a small and dedicated team start working in a train factory. Time is short and resources are limited. Many believe this can not be achieved. Based on the true story of “Devrim” cars.
Production: 2008 Turkiye
Director: Tolga Örnek
Stars: Haluk Bilginer, Taner Birsel, Charles Carroll