[Turkish Cinema] 2022 Evaluation of Turkish Cinema
[Turkish Cinema] 2022 Evaluation of Turkish Cinema
  • Rıza Oylum(Film Critic, Academician at Üsküdar Uni
  • 승인 2023.04.04 15:11
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Since 2016, I have been publishing statistics about the countries and the amount of the films which releases every year. Before 2020-2021, when movie theaters were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I have made an assessment in 2019. 360 movies were released in 2016. 375 movies were released in 2017 and 426 films in 2018. Out of these movies which were released in 2018, 176 of them were domestic and 250 were foreign films. About 140 of the foreign films were made in USA, and the remaining 112 were films from the rest of the world. In 2019 the amount of the released films contained 394. Out of them, 141 were domestic films and 253 were foreign films. Out of the foreign films, around 160 films produced in USA and the remaining 90 films became an example of world cinema.

2022, is the first normal screening year after the pandemic, 372 films found their place in the movie theaters. The audience numbers were quite low before the epidemic. The number of tickets based on 60 million in 2019 did not reach 36 million in 2022. Due to the fact that the movie theaters are closed during the epidemic, that lasted for about 2 years. The digital viewing habits have increased, they cannot find the old audience rates even if the movie theaters are open.

This is how we can summarize the general evaluation of the Turkish cinema industry in recent years. You can read the genres and viewing rates of domestic films released in 2022 below.


Year of Biographies

The most watched film of 2022 is “Bergen”, which is about the life of the arabesque female singer Bergen. Movie “Bergen” was watched more than twice of its closest rival, with an audience of nearly five and a half million. Apart from the “Bergen” biography, many biographies films tried their luck in the vision this year. “Dilberay” about another arabesque singer, “Barış Akarsu” about a rock music singer who died at a young age, “Grain of Wheat” about the biography of disabled deputy Serkan Bayram, and “Elif Ana” about the life of a shamanic female leader with mystical features.

Although none of them came close to the one million mark, except for “Bergen”, which created this year's examples of biopics, the only rising cinema trend of recent years. There are also biographical films that are in preparation for 2023. Out of them are biopics about “Huysuz Virjin”, who has been performing for years as a man and dressed as a woman, and “Cem Karaca”, the famous Turkish rock music artist, continue.

Native Animations on The Attack

Animated films for children constitute a large market of the cinema industry now. For a long time, this market was in the hands of US animation companies. However, with the expansion of technology in recent years, animated films have increased in different countries.

This year, they increased the market share of domestic animations in Turkey. Especially the state-run TRT-supported animated films produced animated films that could rank in the top ten with high audience numbers.

Domestic Horror Films Continue

This year, when nearly 50 local horror films were released, a new horror film tries its luck every week. However, only one movie reached 90 thousand viewers. Nearly 4-5 local horror films were watched by an average of 50 thousand. Apart from these, many local horror films could not reach 5,000 viewers. However, the producers' insistence on the horror film continues. While these films persistently go backwards in terms of quality, they continue to multiply as dozens of films similar to each other, quantitatively reminding the method of mitosis.

Domestic Comedies on the Decline

Domestic comedy films, which have high viewership rates every year, have started to decline this year.

Out of the comedy films, the best example of which is the 6th episode of the “Dance with Coyotes" series.

Numerous unqualified specimens tried their hand at bison. None of them, including the “Dancing with Coyotes” series, reached the expected number of viewers. While the last three films of the “Dancing with Coyotes“ series were watched by more than 1 million viewers, the 6th film of the series was not watched 700 thousand times.

〈Burning Days〉

Surprise of the Year “Burning Days

Directed by director Emin Alper, who shot arthouse films with a political background, which was released in December and approached 200,000 viewers.

“Burning Days” was undoubtedly the most surprising film of the year. After making its premiere at the “Cannes Film Festival”, it was screened in many festivals and received awards. Later, the “Ministry of Culture” asked for the money back. It was all due to some aspects in the script and added a gay character to the movie. When this news was heard, the public flocked to the cinema and supported the film. Thus, “Burning Days“ has reached an audience that has not been reached by any film that is not an example of commercial cinema in recent years.

Festival Films Are Not Smiling at the Vision

Despite this success of “Burning Days”, non-commercial films that made their debuts at festivals have been receiving less and less demand in cinema in recent years. It is necessary to think about the difference between the level of appreciation of the society and the films that are shown at festivals and receive awards. We can say that this problem is also due to the prejudiced attitude of theater owners and distributors towards festival films. The films “Brother’s Keeper”, “The hoop”, “ Time Of Impatience”, “Kerr”, “Zuhal”, “Flashmemory”, “Enfant Terrible“ and “Hara“ made their first screenings at prestigious festivals. They are the examples of our national cinema. The average number of viewers is not even 2500. Neither alone could find 6,000 viewers.

"Who Is This Family Loser of The Year?"

We can say that the film, which was shot with a high budget this year with great expectations, but did not find what it expected at the box office, is the South Korean adaptation of “Who Is This Family?“. Adapted from Korea's cult film “Extreme Job" in recent years, “Who Is This Family?”, after the original became the second most watched film in South Korean cinema history with over 14 million 500 thousand views, the domestic adaptation was shocking with the number of viewers that did not reach 215,000. must have had an effect.

〈어떤 영웅〉

We Can't Watch Movies in Neighboring Countries.

This year has been a year when we had difficulty watching movies in theaters from neighboring countries. Our North and South neighbors have highly developed cinemas. Big budget films are shot in Russia. There is also a very aesthetic sense of cinema in Iran, which is very close to us culturally. We did not get any movie from Russia this year. We could only watch Asghar Farhadi's “Hero“ from Iranian cinema.

Superhero Movies Released

While we couldn't watch movies from the neighbors, a vision of US domination continued to exist this year, as usual. Especially superhero movies made a parade this year with more movies than ever before. The heroes of “Batman”, “Spider-Man“ and Marvel movies formed a broad line of vision.

Digital Platforms in Turkey in 2022

Movies are not in the darkness of movie theaters, but on small screens at homes. Alternative viewing channels, from phones to tablets, to television on the computer screen, have now begun to tear the huge curtain of the white screen at full speed. We can easily say that the most important transformation of 2022 for cinema is the digitalization of watching movies. With the rapid transformation created by the fact that the movie theaters are closed and everyone has to stay at home during the Pandemic process that lasted for about 2 years, they can no longer find the old audience rates even if the movie theaters are open. Therefore, digital cinema platforms have increased their market share considerably. Moreover, they are quite diverse. A few years ago, when there was only Netflix in Turkey, we can talk about digital platforms, the number of which is approaching 10, in this period when we are preparing to step into 2023.

〈Midnight at the Pera Palace〉

Netflix Domestic Series Projects of 2022

In an environment, where Netflix adds more than 20 new content to its library every month, it is not possible to talk about all 2022 content, but it is useful to remember domestic productions.

The first domestic major TV series project of 2022 was “Midnight at the Pera Palace”, set in one of Turkey's oldest hotels. In the TV series published in March, it was a work in which a young journalist travels through time after visiting the hotel to write an article about the historical Pera Palace Hotel. Journalist Esra, who went to the period when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who is the founder of the Turkish Republic, stayed at the hotel during the British occupation in 1919, will try to prevent an assassination of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. The acting of Hazal Kaya, who played the leading role in the series, in which the period decorations and image management were successful, caused controversy. Apart from the quality of the series, I have personally experienced that there has been a significant increase in the number of young people who are aware of the Pera Palace Hotel and want to visit the hotel, since I live in a neighboring residence.

“Erşan Kuneri”, written and starring in the lead roles of the famous Turkish comedian Cem Yılmaz, was released in May. It was a series that Turkish comedian Cem Yılmaz showed as a small sketch in his previous movie, focusing on the past period of the 70s sex movies producer. In the production, which focuses on the story of making a different film in each episode, the humor created on the cliché film themes of Turkish cinema promised an enjoyable viewing, especially for those who watched the films of the aforementioned period. “Erşan Kuneri”, which was one of the most watched productions for a long time, was one of the last examples of Cem Yılmaz's new production of humor on the memory of the old.

〈My Father’s Violin〉

Netflix Native Movies

The first Netflix produced movie was “One-Way to Tomorrow“ directed by Ozan Açıktan in June 2020. The first local Netflix movie of 2022 was “My Father's Violin“ directed by Andaç Haznedaroğlu.

Focusing on the uncle-nephew relationship, which is an unprocessed family relationship in our cinema, the production tells the rapprochement of the little girl who lost her father through playing the violin with her uncle, who also has a distant relationship.

The Netflix movie that was presented to the audience in March was “In Good Hands“. Melisa, who is a single mother and draws a modern image from the city, learns that she is ill and she doesn’t have a lot of time. While thinking about whom to entrust her son Can, she sees that he has become close with a single and flirtatious man she has just met. Establishing an emotional atmosphere far from depth with fast transitions, the film claimed to establish an emotional atmosphere that would easily affect the general audience rather than its quality.

In May, the platform, this time focuses on a man's story, added the movie “Godspeed”, adapted from the novel with same name by retired soldier Hakan Evrensel, who made a name for himself with military stories. It was a production that presented sections from the traumatic lives of two ex-soldiers, including their accounting with the past, on their journey to marry the woman he loved.

“The Festival of Troubadours”, directed by Özcan Alper, was one of the most popular movies of Netflix, adapted from Kemal Varol's book with the same name. The leading roles of the movie are the famous actors Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ and Settar Tanrıöğen. The film tells the journey story of a father and his son who have not seen each other for 25 years.

〈The Festival of Troubadours〉
〈The Festival of Troubadours〉

Digital Version of the Festival Mubi Platform

The platform that has made a splash this year is undoubtedly Mubi. Mubi, is a platform where award-winning films screened at festivals apart from commercial cinema are gathered. It is possible to watch award-winning films that are shown at the film festivals and often not even released. In 2022, Mubi lived up to its claim of being a powerful alternative to Netflix's rich but not deep and similar approach to content, Mubi can boost the appreciation of domestic audiences where few but deep and enduring films are collected. This year, many local films also found their place on the platform, which stands out with its selection of films produced in different parts of the world rather than a single-centered approach.

New Cast: Disney and Amazon

Amazon and Disney, which were included in the Turkish digital platform in 2022, follow different strategies. Trying to be an alternative to Amazon Prime which has a very reasonable monthly fee and a free option to sell to members in purchases made from Amazon, Disney Plus 170, started broadcasting in Turkey at the same time in June with 42 countries. Disney Plus will release the original 1000's. It promises to offer users a rich library with more than 400 movies and more than 16,000 expected series, documentaries and special content archives. By signing contracts with popular players in Turkey, Disney gave concrete signals that it expects a significant power in the market in 2023.

A New Player to Digital Platforms: TRT Digital

The state television institution TRT has aggressively increased its sphere of influence, especially in recent years, not only broadcasting television, but also supporting projects for national cinemas and producing international productions. With its last big move, it will be the TRT Digital platform, which will start broadcasting soon. Among the important projects of TRT Digital, which is understood to be broadcasting with a more local consciousness under the responsibility of state broadcasting, are TV series about the life of Turkish sufi Mevlana and the poet of the National Anthem, Mehmet Akif, as well as preparatory news with different contents.


Rıza Oylum was born in 1984 in Istanbul. He received his undergraduate education at Istanbul Kültür University Turkish Language and Literature Department and his master's degree at Trakya University Turkish Literature Department. He wrote books on Far East Cinema, Russian Cinema, German Cinema, Middle Eastern Cinema, Cinema Lessons from World Directors and Iranian Cinema. He worked as a jury, curator and publication editor at national and international festivals. He is a member of SIYAD (Turkish Film Critics Association -FIPRESCI-Turkey), FEDEORA (Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean) and PEN-Turkey. He is an academician at Üsküdar University and a columnist for Gazete Duvar.


* 《Cultura》 2023 April(Vol. 106) *

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