SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

New Cinemas of Turkey

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Taught in:
Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course a student will have acquired a broad knowledge of the works of the key filmmakers of the new cinema of Turkey. The student will have developed the ability to consider these films critically and to understand them in the context of Turkey’s social, political and economic climate in the 1990s. The student will also have learned how to extract and process information from cinematic and secondary sources.


This course will be taught over 10 weeks with 2 hours film viewing and 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The mid-1990s witnessed a remarkable ‘revival’ of the Turkish cinema through commercial films’ box-office success and through art cinema productions receiving critical acclaim and awards at both national and international festivals. Following this ‘revival’, the new cinema of Turkey as a term covers the time frame from 1996 till present and underlines the ‘new’ and diverse ways of filmmaking suggested by these productions. Even though there are many differences between commercial and art house films in terms of style and production, there is an important connection point: a thematic continuity, ‘characterized by an obsession with the tropes of “home” and “belonging”’ (Suner, 2004: 307), which may be seen as a response to a growing anxiety around identities in transition because of the political, economic, and social changes marking Turkey in the 1990s.

This course is designed to give a coherent overview of the new cinema of Turkey in relation to its historical and industrial contexts with a selection of films representing the multitude of voices and viewpoints, and the aesthetic diversity of the new cinema of Turkey.  The course will examine the key issues pertaining to identity (national, ethnic, class-based, religious, gender-related and sexual) and the crisis of belonging, which are directly and continuously dealt with by the examples of the new cinema of Turkey. The objective is not only to analyse representations of identities and of the ‘belonging’ crisis in particular films visually, but also to contextualise them in the wider social, political, economic, industrial and historical contexts in which the films have been made. 

This course will be an option course for the MA Turkish Studies, the MA Global Cinemas and the Transcultural Degree, the MA Critical Media and Culture Studies, the MA Global Media and Postnational Communications and the MA Anthropology of Media. By providing a course focusing on issues of identity and belonging and by locating films in their historical context, this course will not only accomplish the objective of the MA Turkish Studies Degree programme of enabling students to engage critically with different aspects of Turkish culture and society, but also will it achieve this through a ‘new’ medium, namely, the film. The MA Global Cinemas and the Transcultural Degree is designed to offer students a chance to pursue specialist pathways. By providing an opportunity for students to specialise on the cinema of Turkey, this course will enrich the diverse regional cinema courses on offer within the Centre for Media and Film Studies and fits very well into the programme.

This course will be available as a major on the MA Turkish Studies programme only.

Course Programme:

Week 1: Introduction: from ‘Turkish cinema’ to ‘the new cinema of Turkey’

Film screening: 

  • Eşkıya[The Bandit] 1996 directed by Yavuz Turgul.


  • ‘The New Cinema of Turkey’, Savaş Arslan in New Cinemas, Volume 7, Number 1, 2009, pp.83-97.
  • ‘Critical Thoughts on the New Turkish Cinema’ Zahit Atam in Cinema and Politics: Turkish Cinema and New Europe, 2009, pp.202-220.
  • ‘The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema’ Andrew Higson in Cinema and Nation, 2000, pp.63-74.

Weeks 2 and 3: The crisis of belonging

Film screenings: 

  • Uzak[Distant] 2002 directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and 9[Nine] 2002 directed by Ümit Ünal.


  • ‘Introduction’, Asuman Suner in New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, Memory,  2009, pp.1-24.
  • ‘Introduction’ Gönül Dönmez-Colin in Turkish Cinema: Identity, Distance and Belonging, 2008, pp.1-21.
  • ‘Horror of a different kind: dissonant voices of the new Turkish cinema’ Asuman Suner in Screen Volume:45:4, Winter 2004, pp.305-323
  • ‘Outside in: “Accented cinema” at large’ Asuman Suner in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Vol 7, Number 3, 2006, pp.364-382.

Week 4: New city

Film screening: 

  • Tabutta Röveşata[Somersault in a Coffin] 1996 directed by Derviş Zaim.


  • ‘Chapter 5: New Istanbul Films’ Asuman Suner in New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, 2009, pp.141-162.
  • ‘Cinema and the City in History and Theory’ Mark Shiel in Cinema and the City, 2001, pp. 1-18.

Weeks 5 and 6: Return of the suppressed -denied identities and traumatic past

Film screenings: 

  • Güneşe Yolculuk[Journey to the Sun] 1999 directed by Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Fotoğraf[Photograph] 2001 directed by Kazım Öz, and Sonbahar[Autumn] 2008 directed by Özcan Alper.


  • ‘Chapter 2: New Political Films’ Asuman Suner in New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, Memory, 2009, pp.51-76.
  • ‘Deep Nation: The national question and Turkish cinema culture’ Robins and Aksoy in Cinema and Nation 2000, pp.203-221.
  • ‘Chapter 3: Denied Identities’ Gönül Dönmez-Colin in Turkish Cinema: Identity, Distance and Belonging, 2008, pp.89-115.
  • ‘(Cannot) Remember: Landscapes of Loss in Contemporary Turkish Cinema’ Övül Gökçe in Cinema and Politics, 2009, pp.268-279.

Week 7: Reactionary ‘patriotism’

Film screening: 

  • Kurtlar Vadisi: Irak[Valley of the Wolves:Iraq] 2006 directed by Serdar Akar.


  • ‘Representations of Imperialism in Turkish Cinema within a Pendulum of Nationalism and Anti-Emperialism’ Kaya Özkaracalar in Cinema and Politics, 2009 pp.164-171.
  • ‘Nationalist Discourses in Turkey’ Tanıl Bora in Relocating the Fault Lines: Turkey Beyond the East-West Divide, 2003, pp.433-451.
  • ‘Introduction’ Alan Williams in Film and Nationalism, 2002, pp.3-22.

Week 8: New horror

Film screening: 

  • Büyü[Magic] 2004 directed by Orhan Oğuz.


  • ‘Chapter 6: Horror Films’ Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner in Camera Politica, 1990, pp.168-185.
  • ‘Introduction: The Allegorical Moment’ Adam Lowenstein in Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema and Modern Horror Film, 2005, pp.1-18.
  • ‘Introduction’ Barbara Creed in The Monstrous-Feminine, 1993, pp.1-7

Week 9: Female threat-Female silences

Film screening: 

  • Masumiyet [Innocence] 1997 directed by Zeki Demirkubuz.


  • ‘Sex, Text and Context (In) Between Feminism and Cultural Studies’ Susana Danuta Walters in Revisioning Gender, pp. 222-257.
  • ‘Chapter 5: Gender, Sexuality and Morals in Transition’ Gönül Dönmez-Colin in Turkish Cinema: Identity, Distance and Belonging, 2008, pp.142-179.
  • ‘Chapter 6: The Absent Women of New Turkish Cinema’ Asuman Suner in  New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity, Memory,  2009, pp.163-178.

Week 10: (Turkish) Masculinity in crisis

Film screening: 

  • Yazı-Tura[Toss up] 2004 directed by Uğur Yücel.


  • ‘Historical Trauma and Male Subjectivity’ Kaja Silverman in Psychoanalysis&Cinema ,1990, pp.110-127.
  • ‘Venus in Furs, Turks in Purse: Masochism in the New Cinema of Turkey’ Savaş Arslan in Cinema and Politics: Turkish Cinema and New Europe, 2009, pp.258-267.
  • ‘The Land of “Manly Men”: Masculinity, Nation and War in a Turkish Film’ Firat Yucel on, 2007.

Method of assessment

One essay of 5,000 words to be submitted on the last Friday of the term in which the course is taught (100%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules