The first film showing in Turkey was held in the Yildiz Palace in 1896. Public shows by Sigmund Weinberger in the Beyoglu and Sehzadebasi districts followed in 1897. The first Turkish movie, a documentary produced by Fuat Uzkinay in 1914, depicted the destruction of the Russian monument in Ayastefanos by the public. The first thematic Turkish films were "The Marriage of Himmet Aga" (1916-1918), started by Weinberger and completed by Uzkinay, "The Paw" (1917) and "The Spy" (1917), both by Sedat Simavi. The army-affiliated Central Cinema Directorate, a semi-military national defence society, and the Disabled Veterans Society were the producing organizations of that period.

In 1922 a major documentary film, "Independence, the Izmir Victory," was made about the first war of Independance. The same year, the first private studio, Kemal Film, commenced operations.

From 1923 to 1939, Muhsin Ertugrul was the only film director in the country. He directed 29 films during this period, generally incorporating adaptions of plays, operettas, fiction and foreign films. The influence of the theater dating back to Uzkinay, Simavi, Ahmet Fehim and Karagozoglu is very strong in Muhsin Ertugrul's work.

The years between 1939 and 1950 were a period of transition for the Turkish cinema, during which it was greatly influenced by the theater as well as by World War II. While there were only two film companies in 1939, the number increased to four between 1946 and 1950. After 1949, Turkish cinema was able to develop as a separate art, with a more professional caliber of talents.

Between 1950 and 1966, more than fifty directors practiced film arts in Turkey. Omer Lutfi Akad strongly influenced the period, but Osman F. Seden, Atif Yilmaz and Memduh Un made the most films. The film "Susuz Yaz" (Dry Summer), made by Metin Erksan, won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1964.

The number of cinema-goers and the number of films made record a constant increase, especially after 1958. In the 1960s, cinema courses were included in the programs of the theater departments in the Language, History and Geography faculties of Ankara and Istanbul Universities and in the Press and Publications High School of Ankara University. A cinema branch was also established in the Art History Department of the State Fine Arts Academy.

The Union of Turkish Film Producers, and the State Film Archives also were established in the 1960s. The State Film Archives became the Turkish Film Archives in 1969. During the same period, the Cinema-TV Institute was founded and annexed to the State Academy of Fine Arts. The Turkish State Archives also became part of this organization. In 1962, the Cinema-TV Institute became a department of Mimar Sinan University.

Among the well-known directors of the 1960-1970 period are Metin Erksan, Atif Yilmaz, Memduh Un, Halit Refig, Duygu Sagiroglu and Nevat Pesen. In 1970, the numbers of cinemas and cinema-goers rose spectacularly. In 2,424 cinemas, films were viewed by a record number of 246,662,318 viewers.

In 1970, approximately 220 films were made and this figure reached 300 in 1972. After this period, the cinema began to lose its audiences, due to nationwide TV broadcasts. After 1970, a new and young generation of directors emerged, but they had to cope with an increased demand for video films after 1980.

Increased production costs and difficulties faced in the import of raw materials brought about a decrease in the number of films made in the 1970s, but the quality of films improved.

On January 23, 1986, a new cinema law aimed to ensure support for those working in cinema and music. A reorganization of the film industry began in 1987 to address problems and assure its development. The Ministry of Culture established the "Professional Union of Owners of Turkish Works of Cinema" the same year.

The Copyrights and General Directorate of Cinema was founded in 1989 as well as a Support Fund for the Cinema and Musical Arts. This fund is used to provide financial support to the film sector.

Institutions that Provide Training in the Cinema Sector

Mimar Sinan University Cinema Section Istanbul
Marmara University Cinema Section Istanbul
Marmara University Press Section Istanbul
Anadolu University Cinema/V Section Eskisehir
9 Eylul University Cinema Section Izmir
Ankara University Political Sciences Press-Cinema Section Ankara

Organizations Connected to the Cinema Sector

SESAM -- Professional Union of Film Producers, Importers, Cinema-owners
FIYAP -- Association of Film Producers
SODER -- Cinema Actors' Association
FILM YON -- Film Directors' Union
SINEKAM-DER -- Association of Cameramen, Set Workers, Technical Assistants and studio workers
Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Film Makers' Professional Committee of Film Producers, Importers, Cinema Owners and Video Distributors.