Crossing Mountains, Crossing the Audience: Localized Film Styles, Narration and Sub-genres in the History of Turkish Cinema

Savk S., Çam A., İlhan A. O.

HoMER 2022 Annual Conferance, Rome, Italy, 4 - 09 July 2022, vol.1, pp.26-27

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • Volume: 1
  • City: Rome
  • Country: Italy
  • Page Numbers: pp.26-27
  • Çukurova University Affiliated: Yes


One of the defining features of the Yeşilçam film industry which marked almost 40 years of Turkish cinema history was the regional film management system (Erkılıç & Ünal, 2018). The country was divided into six distribution regions and the regional managers contributed to the financing of the films by making advance payments to the producers. In return, they had a say in the narrative features of the films by communicating audience demands from their regions (Abisel, 2005). Audiences in different management regions had different demographic and cultural profiles. Although Yeşilçam had a very standard narrative structure, demands from different management regions resulted in the localization of films over time, and sub-genres emerged, as in the case of Yörük films. Yörük films were produced particularly for the Adana region and were directly associated with the nomadic culture in terms of narration and form (Şanlıer Yüksel & Çam, 2019). Even though the nomadic lifestyle of the Yörüks had largely disappeared during the Yeşilçam period, the association of Yörük culture with Çukurova Plato and the Taurus mountains continued, the two main sites of nomadic mobility. A similar situation was valid for Zeybek films produced for the broader Izmir region. In this paper, we attempt to answer how the formal, stylistic, and narrative properties of Yörük and Zeybek films differ from each other and other village, adventure, and action films. By doing so, we aim to reflect on simultaneous processes of border-building and border-crossing. On one hand, Yörük (and Zeybek) films had transformed into local sub-genres by partially overcoming the highly standardized genre structure of the Yeşilçam industry. But on the other hand, those films proved that regional management is not only a matter of distribution and finance but also narrative distinctions and boundaries were drawn between different regions. Methodologically, we combine statistical analysis of film style with oral history data. For the statistical data, we will benefit from the database of the interdisciplinary research project “A Data-Driven, Digital and Open Approach to the History of Turkish Cinema” funded by The 26 Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (ID. 121K697. Project period: November 2021-June 2024). This paper is the first academic outcome of that project where we aim to create an open database for the Yeşilçam period. For the oral history part, we benefit from the inventories of three oral history projects conducted by İlke Şanlıer Yüksel and Aydın Çam in the Taurus region.


Abisel, N. (2005). Türk Sinemasında Film Yapımı Üzerine Notlar. In N. Abisel, Türk Sineması Üzerine Yazılar. Phoenix Yayınevi.

Erkılıç, H., & Ünal, R. (2018). Türkiye Sinemasına Özgü Bir Üretim Tarzı Olarak Bölge İşletmeciliği: Adana Bölgesi İşletmeciliği Örnek Olay İncelemesi. Erciyes İletişim Dergisi, 5(3), 54–74.

Şanlıer Yüksel, İ., & Çam, A. (2019). Çukurova’da 1960-1980 Dönemi Sinema Pratiklerinin Özel Bir Örneği: Yörük Filmleri. sinecine: Sinema Araştırmaları Dergisi, 10(2), 291–320.