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Theatre and Cinema


Turkish theatre is thought to have originated from the popular Karagöz shadow plays, a cross between moralistic Punch and Judy and the slapstick Laurel and Hardy. It then developed along an oral tradition, with plays performed in public places, such as coffee houses and gardens, exclusively by male actors.

Atatürk gave great importance to the arts, and actively encouraged theatre, music and ballet, prompting the foundation of many state institutions. Turkey today boasts a thriving arts scene, with highly professional theatre, opera and ballet companies, as well as a flourishing film industry.

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.

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Fatih Akın, Ferzan Özpetek, Abdullah Oğuz and Semih Kaplanoğlu are successful directors of today’s Turkish cinema. 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), film of Semih Kaplanoğlu, was awarded with Best 2nd Film in Estoril European Film Festival, which took place in Portugal and honoured with Eurimages Award by the jury of Sevilla Film Festival in Spain. “Bliss” (Abdullah Oğuz, 2007) has been rewarded with European Council's 'Human Rights Award'. Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the best director award in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his Üç Maymun (Three Monkeys).

The country enjoys numerous performing arts festivals throughout the year, the most prestigious of which is the Istanbul International Festival and the Antalya Film Festival.


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