The irrepressible rise of the cinema sector
As the 31st Istanbul Film Festival is putting its spell on Istanbul residents, “Magnifica Presenza,” the latest film of the “rising star” of Italian cinema, Turkey’s Ferzan Özpetek, will be in theaters this week.
I had a chat with Ferzan Özpetek, who gave a significant role to the popular and talk show star Cem Yılmaz in his new film, during the private screening of “Magnifica Presenza” on the weekend.
I personally heard from Italians last September in Rome during the Turkish Film Festival that Ferzan Özpetek is Italy’s “best director.”
Sezen Aksu’s music is an absolute must of Ferzan Özpetek’s films and he definitely adds a few elements from Turkey in each of his films. He expects a 5 million-euro return from “Magnifica Presenza.”
He cracked during our chat: He wants to do something he hasn’t done up until today, that is, he wants to shoot a film in Turkey.
This demand of Özpetek is understandable because as the film industry in Italy suffers a heavy blow because of the economic crisis, the cinema sector in Turkey is living its golden age.
According to a story that was in the papers the other day, moviegoers in Turkey have opted for Turkish films in the first three months of the year.
Out of 10 people who went to the movies, seven of them have seen Turkish films.
The number of spectators who have watched films representing Turkish cinema is over 12 million in three months.
“Conquest 1453” (Fetih 1453) which was in the theaters toward the middle of February, has broken the all-time records for the maximum number of viewers.
I met with Associate Professor Abdurrahman Çelik, who is the general manager for copyrights at the Culture and Tourism Ministry, during the Turkish Film Festival in Rome. Turkey was producing 10 movies a year 10 years ago, Çelik said, but added that Turkey had now come to the point where it was producing 60 to 70 movies a year.
According to Çelik, Turkey has made significant growth in the cinema sector since 2005 and Turkey has been tops in Europe in terms of viewers for domestically produced movies for the last four years.
This rank belonged to France before Turkey.
I want to mention the recent data Çelik has provided on the cinema sector’s progress in Turkey:
While box office was 177.5 million Turkish Liras in 2005, it had become 398.5 million liras by the end of 2011.
During the same time frame, the box office revenue for Turkish films has increased from 69.8 million liras to 183.7 million liras.
A law that was passed for the first time in Turkey in 2005 to support the art and production of cinema has had a huge impact in bringing the cinema industry to the stage it is at today.
According to information provided by Çelik, more than 350 films benefited from this support between 2005 and 2011.
Another phenomenon of the Turkish cinema industry, one that has the highest growth rate in Europe, is television serials.
Television serials produced in Turkey are being aired in 76 countries, especially in the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asian Republics, while the leading actors and actresses in these serials have suddenly become “stars” in these countries.
One of the shining stars of Turkish cinema, Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, for example, was declared the “Brad Pitt of the Middle East” at the seventh International Muscat Film Festival.
Another advantage of the high demand for Turkish soap operas abroad is its contribution to tourism.
It has been calculated that the number of tourists coming from Arab countries has increased 30 percent since Turkish soap operas started being aired in their countries.
Back to Çelik; his goal is to see Turkish cinema industry enter the top 10 list in the world by 2023.
It doesn’t seem unlikely.