The Kurdish Issue in Turkish Cinema

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  • Topic: Turkey, Iraq, Kurdish people
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  • Published : May 29, 2013
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RESEARCH METHODS FOR POLITICAL SCIENCE
(POLS 108)

SUBJECT : KURDISH ISSUE IN TURKISH CINEMA
NAME : MUHAMMET
SURNAME : TARHAN
ID : 02031139

BEING A KURD IN TURKISH CINEMA

“The best way of spreading and imposing culture, political behaviour and literature to other states is cinema” my father always says. Then he adds: “For instance, America introduced emperialism and it’s ‘power’ to the whole World via American movies”. Previously, i was not be able to comprehend that, however, after I started being interested in cinema, i realised that gradually. In World history, the first movie was made by the “Lumiere Brothers”, it was just a view of a train entering the station in Paris. In November 1914, during the Ottoman Empire and Russian war, Russian soldiers erected a monument in Ayastafanos (Yeşilköy), Istanbul, and Ottoman army’s reserve officer Fuat Uzkınay recorded that monument with his camera. This historical document is accepted as the “first Turkish movie.” Afterwards, shooting war or document films continued until the last years of the war -1917,1918-, they were related to the supreme commander or Sultans’ private and official lives. After the foundation of the ‘Turkish Republic’, all languages except Turkish were prohibited by force with the Maintenance of Order (Takrir-i Sükûn). There would not be existence of other public except ‘Turks’. Futhermore, with the Zilan massacre (Şark Islahat Planı) which was signed by Mustafa Kemal, the Kurdish language was banned and if one talked Kurdish he/she would be punished. However, What was the role of art during this troublesome process? What kind of works were made in Turkish cinema? How were the ‘Kurds’ and the ‘Kurdish issue’ involved in Turkish cinema? We can divide the “Kurdish issue in Turkish cinema” into three sections: Kurds non-existence 1950s-1960s, uncertainty situation 1970s-1980s, development and solution process 1990s, 2000s.

When all Turkish cinema is analyzed, it can be percieved that Kurds were always in Turkish cinema. Yet, the Kurds’ existence was not fair, peope just may feel them. Characters in the first Turkish movies were emphasized as Turkish heroes, handsome, and powerful. Muhsin Ertuğrul is a very significant director and his movies may be accepted as the ‘real emergence of Turkish cinema.’ Besides Muhsin Ertuğrul, Yaşar Kemal is another important man who told about Kurds in Turkish cinema. Before him, Kurds were just in tales and stories.In transferring the Kurds from tales to cinema Atıf Yılmaz, Hüseyin Peyda, Osman Şahin, Bekir Yıldız, Kemal Bilbaşar and Ferid Edgü’s role is dramatically big. The Kurds and the ‘kurdish issue’ are involved in Turkish cinema around ‘country’ movies. The first and most important example is Dağları Bekleyen Kız (1955). This movie shows the Dersim, Tunceli mountains and it offers a solution prescription about the ‘Kurdish issue’. This solution is “drop your gun, denounce your friends, and surrender.”Mezarımı Taştan Oyun (1951) and Kanlı Feryad (1951) are other examples of these movies.The rise of proletariat and the immigration of the Kurds are the main subjects of these movies.

In the 1960s, in the movies Gurbet Kuşları (1964) and Bitmeyen Yol (1965) the people’s identities are not stated yet. When we come to beginning of 1970s, Turkey’s problem was economy. If economy went well, then the Kurdish issue would already be solved. Kurds were still characters such as: Bedrana, Gülüşan etc. and they took a part in movies an underdevelopment, customs.With migration, Kurds went to urban areas, however they could not go beyond becoming a doormen, sycophant etc..

Yılmaz Güney is also a very important actor and director in terms of Kurds and the Kurdish issue in Turkish cinema.Güney made many movies throughout his short life.Furthermore, most of his movies were related with the Kurdish issue. Yes, Güney was aware of the Kurdish issue,...
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