By Assad Bhuglah

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The Turkish cinema and film industry are aiming to go global. They have also kept up with advances in technology and viewer preferences that enabled them to make features and soap operas like Magnificent Century, a phenomenon that prevailed throughout the Middle East.

For the first time in cinema history, Hollywood paired up with the Turkish film industry for the 54th Anatalya Film festival on 21-27 October 2017. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism threw their full support behind the festival. Actors, directors, studios, and scriptwriters from both Turkey and Hollywood attended the event. Jurors from the Oscar and the Golden Globe awards were also there. The festival brought a wide range of cinema with dramas, comedies and creative documentaries produced by famous moviemakers who deal with current issues with their own cinematic approaches. The Turkish film industry is also envisaging joint collaboration with Bollywood. Turkey and India plan to boost cooperation in cinema, with Bollywood seeking locations to shoot films in western Turkey. Last month, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan visited Turkey and he was cheered by his Turkish fans and was received by President Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish-Bosnian co-production "Never Leave Me," which was all shot in Turkey, was among the new films that appeared on the festival screen. The film tells the story of Syrian orphan boys who try to escape their traumatic past in Turkey's Şanlıurfa province and search for the meaning of their lives. It bears the signature of one of the most respectable female directors in the world, Bosnian director Aida Begic. The film that brings an original and genuine perspective to the global immigration crisis. Likewise, the first Turkish-Jordanian co-production film, "The Guest" received support from the Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry like "Never Leave Me." An 8-year-old girl, Lena, who lost her family in a war, wends her way with her little sister and their neighbour Meryem and other immigrants.

The star of the show was no other than the 2017 Turkish film, “Ayla” that tells the real-life story of a Turkish soldier, finding a young orphan during the Korean War in 1950. Realising there is no-one to look after her, he assumes the role, but his forced return to Turkey separates them because of bureaucracy and red tape. The soldier risks his own life to save a young girl whom he finds half-frozen and on the verge of death, smuggling her into his army base. Despite being unable to communicate with each other, the two form a strong bond. When the war ends and the soldier must return home, he cannot bear to abandon the girl but is forced to hand her over to an orphanage, hoping one day to be reunited with her. The pair were finally reunited 60 years later.

 Çan Ulkay’s “Ayla” has been selected as Turkey’s official candidate for the best foreign-language film Oscar. Based on the true story of a Turkish veteran of the Korean War, “Ayla” follows its characters against the background of the war in 1950 and revisits them in this century. Ismail Hacioglu stars as the young soldier, with Çetin Tekindor playing as an older man. Kim Seol and Lee Kyung-Jin play the eponymous Ayla as a young girl and adult, respectively. The cast also features America actor Eric Roberts. The selection was made by Turkey’s Artistic Events Commission (SEK). The 17-person committee, which includes Turkish film industry professionals as well as officials from the country’s culture and tourism ministry, selected the film from a pool of 13 films submitted for consideration. “Ayla”, which was produced by Mustafa Uslu for local production company Dijital Sanatlar,  was released in Turkey on 27 October 2017. The nominations for the 2017 Academy Awards will be announced on 23 January, 2018. The ceremony will take place on 4 March, 2018.

Moreover, the 24th Adana Film Festival also took place last month with a rich line-up. The festival screened highlights of the year, both local and foreign productions. As far as Turkish films were concerned, "Murtaza," directed by Özgür Sevimli and featuring veteran actor Cezmi Baskın and actress Meral Çetinkaya in the lead roles was found to be a wonderful cinematography in a heart-wrenching story. In the film, Murtaza and Sabure are elderly married couple that live in a mountain village away from the city of Malatya. Murtaza takes care of his blind wife. It is obvious that he feels somewhat ashamed, as their marriage resulted from his rape of Sabure, and he seems to be trying to compensate, in vain, for her unhappy life. They have a daughter and a son who live in Istanbul. After a phone call, Murtaza goes to Istanbul to see his daughter Selvi, just to find out that she is on her deathbed. He insists on not telling Sabure of Selvi's death. While struggling to survive, he keeps the truth from his wife.

On the other hand, Turkish drama series 'Kara Sevda' (Endless Love) is continuing to take the world by storm. Last month, the series became the first Turkish production to be nominated in one of the most prestigious awards of the international television industry, the International Emmy Awards. Kara Sevda will be competing against three other series –Trente Vies (30 Lives), Totalmente Demais (Total Dreamer) and Velho Chico (Old River) - in the "Best Telenovela" category. Kara Sevda has gained considerable popularity internationally and has been dubbed in multiple languages, including Italian, Persian, Spanish, and Arabic.

Kara Sevda tells the story of a young artist (Nihan) who finds herself obligated to give up being with her true love to save her brother from going to jail, and being forced to marry someone else. This drama has received numerous 'Best Drama of the Year' awards by many institutions and universities in Turkey and was awarded the 'Jury Special Prize' at the 11th International Seoul Drama Awards in 2016. Nominations for the 2017 International Emmy Awards were announced last month by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, with 44 nominees across 11 categories and 18 countries. Among the 18 countries represented, Brazil received the most nods with the U.K, Japan and France coming in 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Winners will be announced at a black-tie Ceremony on 20 November, 2017 at the Hilton New York Hotel.

The Turkish TV industry has grown enormously on the international stage during the last decade - with export revenues expected to hit $350m per year by the end of 2017 - it was revealed during a presentation at Sarajevo Film Festival in Aug 2016. Turkish series are hugely successful across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In Pakistan, the Turkish serial ‘Mera Sultan’ has been one of the biggest hits in the television series and its actor, Halit Ergenic, has a huge number of Pakistani fans.