Talented Turkish filmmakers like Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Fatih Akn, and Reha Erdem have helped put Turkey on the map of global cinema. In addition to these well-known filmmakers, lesser-known (but no less skilled) Turkish filmmakers, and a few foreigners who have explored the country and taken full advantage of its natural beauty are responsible for many of Turkey’s outstanding films. A few of the best have been gathered here.
1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
One of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s best films, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia examines the haunting beauty of Turkey’s environment in all its gloomy splendor (the filmmaker is also a photographer). They are searching for the body of a dead man in the Anatolian countryside.
2. The Edge of Heaven
“The Edge of Heaven” is one of Fatih Akn’s most moving films, delving into the depths of human love in a way that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. The streets of Istanbul are typically seen as they are, with no pretenses or gimmicks, as well as wonderful moments of clarity that you may not have anticipated.
3. Winter Sleep
A Palm d’Or winner and one of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s most aesthetically captivating films, Winter Sleep is set in Cappadocia, a country of ethereal beauty. The premise revolves around the life of a former actor who is now in charge of a hotel and has to cope with his estranged wife, as well as his estranged sister, who has just gone through a divorce.
4. Times and Winds
Reha Erdem’s Times and Winds takes you to places of Turkey you didn’t know existed and introduces you to people who live lives that are utterly disconnected from the contemporary world.
5. Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge, one of Fatih Akin’s less-known films, is a documentary that investigates Istanbul’s music culture and Turkey’s centuries-old musical legacy. From hip-hop artists to masters of traditional Turkish music, this film doesn’t hold back.
6. Head On
Head On is Fatih Akn’s best-known film, which examines Turkish life and the restrictions of love in a culture that is torn between modernity and tradition. To depict Istanbul as it is, the film focuses on the fiery love between Cahit and Sibel.
7. Loser’s Club
If you’re an Istanbul resident who can identify with the story about two very contentious (inappropriate) radio DJs in 1990s Istanbul, you’ll love this film. The radio show, aptly named Kaybedenler Kulübü (Loser’s Club), airs nightly and features in-depth discussions of daily hardships.
Alain Robbe-Grillet directed this wonderful film from 1963, which takes you back to a moment in Istanbul that many people remember fondly. A man meets a stunning woman and discovers a shocking conspiracy while taking gorgeous boat rides on the Bosphorus and leisurely strolls around the city’s bustling streets.
9. A Touch of Spice
With a story that will appeal to foodies everywhere, A Touch of Spice by Tassos Boulmetis tells the tale of a Greek child living in Istanbul who learns the value of good food from his grandfather (just add some spice). During the protagonist’s 35-year absence from Istanbul, a story of love and fine food is told as he matures into an adult and returns to Istanbul.
10. The Water Diviner
Russell Crowe directed and starred in The Water Diviner, one of the most well-known worldwide films recently set in Turkey. An Australian dad embarks on an emotional journey to Turkey in search of his three presumed dead sons during the Battle of Gallipoli.
11. The Two Faces of January
This film, which stars Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst, is set in the 1960s in Greece and Turkey. After the murder of a private detective in Athens, the story centres around a seemingly happy married couple who meet a stranger and must flee for their lives.