Turkey came late to the film genre. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the country had anything worth calling an industry. The local pioneer, Muhsin Ertugrul, was a man of the theatre. Most of his productions were stage bound, static and decidedly uncinematic. From 1922 until well into the 1940s, Ertugrul had the field more or less to himself. After the war, Turkish Cinema started to expand and new ideas and themes began to appear.
In Turkish cinema, one may find influences of the traditional shadow play, karagoz or golge oyunu. Several transnational elements are distinguishable in the evolution of the Turkish cinema. The early years were inundated with stories of prostitutes, vamps and ‘fallen women’. During those days, the Turkish studio system, Yesilcam, churned out rural melodramas produced by urbanites with little or no knowledge of the countryside. In 1970, when Yilmaz Güney made Hope, it was considered the first truly realist Turkish film.
Just as the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was detrimental to independent cinema in Iran, several coup d’etats forced many Turkish filmmakers into exile, or silence. Nevertheless, remarkable works found their way through the restrictions in both countries. Today Iranian cinema is considered as one of the best in the world and in Turkey, a new generation of filmmakers have emerged, determined to preserve the long filmic tradition of the country, but with their own stories.