Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

Skip to schedule and film credits
This programme of fiction and documentary shorts and features spotlights the vital new work being created by a rising generation of female Turkish filmmakers.

Films in Rebel Yell: A New Generation of Turkish Women Filmmakers

    • Present Tense
    • Simdiki zaman
    • Belmin Söylemez
    • A young woman fleeing from a failing marriage takes a last-ditch job as a fortune teller in a small cafe, where she discovers that her problems — and her hopes — are not far different from those that burden her all-female clients.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Merry-Go-Round
    • Atlikarinca
    • Ilksen Basarir
    • The tragic death of a patriarch leads to the revelation of a dark family secret.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Beginnings
    • Yolun basinda
    • Somnur Vardar
    • This documentary observes the proceedings of the 2012 "Speaking to One Another" project, which brings together youth from Armenia and Turkey in a framework of camaraderie and reconciliation to revisit "sites of memory" associated with the Armenian genocide of 1915.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • Men on the Bridge
    • Köprüdekiler
    • Asli Özge
    • A compelling, unaffected and incisive slice of life on the gritty side of Istanbul, this intriguing fiction-documentary hybrid focuses on the informal Istanbul economy centred on the Bosporus Bridge.

    • No events playing at this time.
    • The Play
    • Oyun
    • Pelin Esmer
    • Pelin Esmer's documentary follows nine women living in a mountain village in southern Turkey who band together to write and perform a play based on their own life stories.

    • No events playing at this time.

It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the great majority of Turkish cinema is the work of men making films to entertain — and glorify — Turkish men. With the exception of Bilge Olgaç, who directed twenty-five of the fifty-two films directed by women from the 1950s through to the 1980s (out of a total of approximately 4,400 films produced in the country), female directors are rarely cited when the history of Turkish cinema is recounted. Although more women were able to make films following the military coup of 1980, a time when awareness of gender inequity and injustice was at its height, their efforts received considerably less exposure than those of their male counterparts, which often continued to propagate patriarchal and chauvinist stereotypes of women.

It was not until the emergence in the 1990s of the New Turkish Cinema — a rising generation of independent filmmakers who sought to forge both a new aesthetic language and a new economic model of cinema — that the number of women making films notably increased, along with the visibility and autonomy of their work. Like her predecessors Bilge Olgaç and Cahide Sonku, Handan Ipekçi formed her own company to produce and distribute her films, many of which (such as the 2007 Hidden Faces) deal with such charged social issues as honour killings. (Independence still only goes so far, however: even though Ipekçi's second feature, Hejar, was endorsed by the Ministry of Culture as Turkey's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2001 Academy Awards, she still had to fight a court battle to distribute the film after a government injunction was levelled against it on the grounds of its negative depiction of the police corps.) Similarly, Ye?im Ustao?lu has established herself as one of the most accomplished and daring filmmakers in the movement with her bold examinations of social and political issues deemed taboo in contemporary Turkish society: her first feature Traces deals with collective memory and unspoken guilt, Journey to the Sun depicts an unusual friendship between a Turk and a Kurd, while Waiting for the Clouds challenges the official history of the post-WWI massacre and expulsion of Turkey's Greek community.

It is in the commercially marginal field of documentary, however, where Turkish women filmmakers have most decisively made their mark in the past few years. Pelin Esmer's first feature The Play — which follows nine women from the countryside who stage a play about their lives as part of a project funded by a women's rights organization — became the flagship of this movement due to its unexpected success in theatres and the enthusiastic critical acclaim it received both nationally and internationally. The film's focus on role-playing as means of social emancipation paved the way for further explorations and expansions of documentary form such as Asli Özge's docu-fiction hybrid Men on the Bridge, which probes the lives of those who work in Turkey's informal economy. Through the independent filmmaking collective Filmist, such figures as Berke Bas, Somnur Vardar and Belmin Söylemez have also produced and directed important documentaries that address women's issues, economic and social injustice, undocumented migrant workers, and other pressing contemporary issues. This programme, a modest showcase for a major phenomenon, aims to pay tribute to this exciting new insurgency in both the mainstream and the margins of contemporary Turkish cinema, one that promises to finally overturn the male hegemony that has long reigned in this country's social and artistic universe.

Rasha Salti