Turkey in the eyes of foreign directors

Turkey in the eyes of foreign directors

Turkey in the eyes of foreign directors

The exhibition can be seen through Feb. 28 at the TÜRVAK Exhibition Hall every day - except Monday - between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Turkey’s cinema industry is finally showing a revival worthy of the heyday of the country’s domestic film industry, Yeşilçam, in the 1970s, with a new generation of filmmakers tackling topics of contemporary significance. Locals, however, have not been the only ones to cast an eye on the country, as a long line of foreigners have also captured Turkey for posterity.

Now, in honor of the foreign directors that have set all or part of their films in Turkey, Istanbul’s Türker İnanoğlu Foundation (TÜRVAK) Cinema-Theater Museum is bringing together the posters of foreign films that were made between 1925 and 2013 in Turkey or about Turkey. 

The exhibition, “İçinden Türkiye Geçen Yabancı Filmler” (Foreign Films About Turkey), features the visual memory of 54 films from American, European, Australian, Hong Kong and Scandinavian cinemas and four co-productions of Erler Film-Türker İnanoğlu.

Since 1925, several of Turkey’s cities have been reflected in foreign movies, along with the country’s history, culture, multilayered society and – insofar as some foreigners are concerned – exotic nature.

“We searched widely in the archives and examined cinematic history. We think the exhibition will attract the attention of cinema-lovers,” said the coordinator of the exhibition, Aslı Yılmazsoy. 


Among the films, “Secret of Stamboul” is a 1936 British thriller film, taken from the novel “The Eunuch of Stamboul” by Dennis Wheatley and directed by Andrew Marton and starring Valerie Hobson, James Mason and Frank Vosper. In the film, a British agent travels to Istanbul to try and thwart a revolution. 
Orson Welles’ “Journey into Fear” is a 1943 American spy film based on the Eric Ambler novel of the same name and tells the story of a gun seller in an illegal Istanbul organization. “The Mask of Dimitrios” is a 1944 American film directed by Jean Negulesco, based on the 1939 novel of the same name written by Ambler. Some scenes of the film are set in Istanbul, while the film follows the adventures of İzmir’s Dimitrios. 

Cicero, the spy

A 1952 American spy film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, “Five Fingers,” shows scenes from the capital Ankara, as well as Eminönü, Beyoğlu, Galata and the Golden Horn in Istanbul. The screenplay was based on the book “Operation Cicero.” The film is based on the true story of Albanian-born Elyesa Bazna, one of the most famous spies of World War II. He worked for the Nazis from 1943 to 1944 while he was employed as valet to the British ambassador to Turkey, Sir Hugh Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen. He used the code name Cicero.

Errol Flynn meets 'passions of the east'

Another American adventure-drama film, “Istanbul,” is a 1957 film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Errol Flynn, Cornell Borchers and John Bentley. It is a remake of the film “Singapore” with the location of the action moved to Turkey.

“America, America” (released in Britain as “The Anatolian Smile”) is a 1963 American drama film directed, produced and written by Elia Kazan, from his own book. The film was shot in Greece and Turkey. “Topkapı” (1964) is a heist film directed by Jules Dassin based on Ambler’s novel “The Light of Day” and starring Melina Mercouri and Maximilian Schell. Erler Film-Türker İnanoğlu contributed to the filwm as a producer. 

Another offering, “Medea,” is a film by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Filmed in Göreme Open Air Museum’s early Christian churches, it stars opera singer Maria Callas in her only film role. 

“Karl XII” (1925), “The Lady with a Lamp” (1951), “Orient Express” (1954), “Abenteurer am Bosphorus” (1962), “From Russia with Love” (1963), “Istanbul Express” (1968), “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1968), Peter Collinson’s “You Can’t Win ‘Em All” (1970), “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “Gallipoli” (1981), “Intimate Power/The Favorite” (1989), “Zombie and the Ghost Train” (1991), “The World is not Enough” (1999) and “Skyfall” (2012) are among the other films involved Turkey and whose posters are being displayed at the exhibition. 

“Foreign Films About Turkey” can be seen through Feb. 28 at the TÜRVAK Exhibition Hall every day except Monday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.