The Hidden Voice Of Yeşilçam
Film dubbing was first introduced to Turkish cinema in 1943 when film director Faruk Kenç shot the rural melodrama, Dertli Pınar, without synchronized sound recording. And this was a first in the history of Turkish cinema. During the dubbing stage of the film at the Ses Film Studio in Beyoğlu, Kenç worked with the actors and actresses of Darülbedayi Theater who had nice voice and excellent Turkish accent. Dubbing maintained its popularity in Turkish cinema until the late90s, as it was much cheaper than the synchronized sound recording. Actors and actresses who were unable to use their own voices in the films have been highly criticized for many years. Many of them did not have a dubbing voice. For a long time, Abdurrahman Palay and Hayri Esen voiced the leading men of Turkish cinema; while Adalet Cimcoz, Nevin Akkaya and Jeyan Tözüm voiced the leading ladies. And the song dubbings were to be performed by Sevim Şengül and Belkıs Özener…
Belkıs Özener began her singing career on the silver screen, in other words, her dubbing career, in 1961. She performed song-dubbings at intervals until 1967, as the songs were mostly dubbed by Sevim Şengül until then. And Özener’s true cinema journey began that year, with the feature film “The Clown and His Daughter” starring Türkan Şoray.
When she was brought to the dubbing studio by Metin Bükey, Özener became the voice of the songs Türkan Şoray sang in the films. It was Özener’s voice and Şoray’s image on the screen. Özener’s crystalclear voice was in perfect sync with Şoray’s lips.
Now the lyrics sang by Belkıs Özener were flowing through Türkan Şoray’s lips… Belkıs Özener easily adapted to this work environment, which was even rare in the world cinema back then, and she soon became an essential for the films. There were times she even had to dub the unscripted songs. Tough job indeed. The song performance on the set was not quite right, and the lip-sync of the actress was not always great. And it was Belkıs Özener who would fix that problem at the dubbing stage. She’d do her best and fix the lip-sync issue with her crystal-clear voice; paying attention to every pause, every pulse… Despite her rigorous efforts, her name was never listed in the credits. She suffered the same fate as the other dubbing artists.
No one knew that it was Belkıs Özener who sang those sad or funny songs on the big screen. Well, she never had such a demand anyway. And yet she was the singing voice of Yeşilçam’s leading ladies. She loved the cinema regardless, performed the dubbings for a very small fee, and led a humble professional life. She couldn’t even meet the actresses she had voiced. It was her biggest dream to sing on stage, but she wasn’t given that chance, either… Belkıs Özener’s voice added a great tune to many blockbuster films of Turkish cinema.
As a dubbing artist who has witnessed the golden era and the full house days of Turkish cinema, who complied with the unspoken rules of Yeşilçam and voiced the promising leading ladies in 300 films; Belkıs Özener celebrates her 50th year in Turkish cinema this year. We are grateful to Belkıs Özener, the hidden hero of Yeşilçam, for embellishing the films with her crystal-clear voice all these years. Ali Can Sekmeç, October 2017
In an interview, “I write poetry with the camera,” Mesut Uçakan said, who began his artistic career by writing poetry and became one of the significant directors of the National Cinema movement, also known as White Cinema. He gained a unique ground in Turkish cinema with his films dealing with the pressure on Muslim identity and featuring various aspects of Islamic doctrine.
Born in 1953 in Kırklareli. He graduated from Marmara University’s Department of Cinema and Television in 1978. During his education, he served as the chairman of MTTB Cinema Club. He began his professional film career as a film critic and continued as an AD, scriptwriter and director. After publishing his first film magazine ““Mutlak Fikir Estetiği ve Sinema,” he published a research book titled “Türk Sinemasında İdeoloji” in 1977 and a poetry book titled “Sıkı Tut Ellerimi” in 1993. He published another film magazine titled “Sonsuzkare” between 2003-2004. He made his directorial debut with “Curse” in 1978. “We are all in a film made of eternal frames,” says Uçakan. He scripted most of his films and pioneered many developments in Turkish film-making.
His five-episode TV series “Man In The Jar” akin to a novel by BoileauNarcejac attracted millions of viewers in 1987. In this series adapted by Faik Baysal’s novel of the same name, an illiterate vendetta victim’s brain is transplanted to a dying famous author by a world-renowned surgeon mastered at brain transplant, and Uçakan reflected the whole tension after the transplant on the screen, while Ahmet Mekin successfully portrayed the identity confusion after the transplant. As the first-ever science fiction work on Turkish television, Man In The Jar has become a cult TV series in time.
In 1988, he made Mr. Chief, film adaptation of Necip Fazıl Kısakürek’s play of the same name. The film focuses on a judge, a man of principle who believes death penalty is necessary and beneficial for society, and his guilty conscience about a case.
You’re not Alone 1- 2 (1990-1991) were the first reflections of the headscarf drama on the silver screen. He bravely criticized the recent history of Turkey focusing specifically on the Independence Tribunals with Butterflies Fly to Eternity/ Atıf Hodja of İskilip (1993). He made many other notable films, such as “Ölümsüz Karanfiller” which deals with the unsolved murders, “Sonsuza Yürümek”, “Çöküş”, “Sevdaların Ölümü”, “Otel İstanbul”, “Anne ya da Leyla”, “Anka Kuşu”, “Tuna Nehri Akşam Diyor.” Uçakan has won many awards and gained a genuine place in Turkish cinema with his unique film style. In 1992, Necip Tosun published a book compiled of his talks with Mesut Uçakan, “Mesut Uçakan’la Sinema Söyleşileri.” And in 2009, Hüseyin Karaca penned a comprehensive research book on Uçakan’s life, works and his place in the media: “Sonsuzkarelerde Bir Çığlık: Mesut Uçakan.”. The 2016 TV series “Sevda Kuşun Kanadında” produced by Uçakan has become very popular in Turkey. Şiran Akgür
Two types of acting exist in the seventh art: Driven acting and creative acting. The first one is to follow the director’s orders, and the latter is to adopt a creative approach, improvise, and become one with the character… And Halil Ergün is among the creative actors of cinema. Creative acting requires being involved with several art and life disciplines. And he managed to achieve this in his acting career for over 40 years, and impressed the audience with all the films he acted in; since his early acting days to his professional days. Although his cinema journey began long ago, Halil Ergün still remains a timeless, popular and esteemed figure of Turkish cinema.
Since his early acting days, Halil Ergün has always kept up with the times and never repeated himself, and starred in the most important films of their time. When he first began his acting career in 1975, he was rather a naive, honest, young Anatolian man. He was tough-looking and bossy… But he impressed larger crowds with his collaborations with the great Turkish film directors. That tough-looking and bossy image he masterfully portrayed continued until falling in love with a beautiful woman… That tough guy was defeated by love. As if all the manly features were eventually defeated by love with each character he portrayed… And the audience instantly embraced this change in him.
He was a country boy when he first came to Istanbul, where his path crossed with Yılmaz Güney. And he stepped into cinema with Güney’s film, Permission. He became the prominent directors’ favorite actor with the widely acclaimed films, such as “Maden”, “Yol”, “Kaşık Düşmanı”, “Gülüşan”, “Kırlangıç Fırtınası”, “Katırcılar”, “Sis”, “72. Koğuş”, “Zincir”, “Kızın Adı Fatma”, “Düğün.” His director-actor collaboration with Bilge Olgaç yielded many remarkable films. Halil Ergün has always loved being on the set… In fact, given his stance, looks and attitude; it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he’s a typical Anatolian man.
Ali Can Sekmeç, September 2017
Nacer Khemir is an artist who masterfully portrays Sufism on the silver screen; in which the Islamic geography extending from Samarkand to Andalusia, the story traditions of Arabic, Persian and Berber cultures, and the universe are integrated. Besides being a writer, calligrapher, painter, sculptor, drama personality, and filmmaker; he’s primarily a storyteller. He tells ancient mystical stories set in North Africa’s deserts. In his books, paintings, stage performances, and films; he unlocks the centuries-old lost treasure chest of a culture and a belief, and generously shares it with the art lovers.
Khemir was born in Korba, Tunisia in 1948. He received the UNESCO scholarship to study film in Paris. He gained his first international artistic reputation with his book, L’Ogresse (1975), in which he calligraphed his researches and stories on the storytellers in the Medina of Tunis. In 1980, his calligraphic artworks were exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Every night for a month in 1982 and 1988, he told the stories of One Thousand and One Nights with his own interpretation at the National Theatre in Chaillot, on a stage designed by Yannis Kokkos. Before he began his film career, he was a storyteller on stage.
Besides literature, he also focused on Islamic philosophy and Sufism. In 1976, Khemir made his directorial debut with the mid-length film “L’Histoire du pays du bon dieu” in which he played the protagonist seeking the borders of a country which is an obvious metaphor of Tunisia, and acted as the narrator as well.
With the trilogy’s other films, The Dove’s Lost Necklace (1991) and Bab’aziz – The Prince That Contemplated His Soul (2005), Khemir’s works have been compared to One Thousand and One Nights. His films’ visual fascination and his poetic style made Khemir one of the most remarkable and creative filmmakers of world cinema.
Adapted from Ibn Hazm’s (994-1064) book “The Ring of The Dove”, The Dove’s Lost Necklace is a love and quest story set in 10thcentury Andalusia. A calligrapher named Hasan sets off in pursuit of a lost page with 60 words defining love written on it, and becomes enchanted by the Princess of Samarkand, who came to Granada for her beloved one… Khemir won the Special Jury Award at the Locarno International Film Festival, the Best Screenplay and Best Artistic Contribution awards at the Namur Film Festival for this film
Filmed in Tunisia and Iran, the trilogy’s final film, Bab’aziz, is a visual feast dedicated to Sufism. A blind dervish and his young granddaughter, Ishtar, set off to a Sufi reunion that takes place every three decades. As they travel through the dunes for days, Ishtar becomes worried, but the dervish is convinced that those who will attend the reunion would eventually find their way. Co-written by Nacer Khemir and the legendary scriptwriter Tonino Guerra, Bab’aziz is a series of tales within a tale, and it becomes even richer with the quotes from many sufis, including Rumi and Inayat Khan.
He blended documentary and fiction in his 2014 documentary “Looking for Muhyiddin”, which is an indirect portrayal of Ibn Arabi. His latest film “Whispering Sands” focuses on a Canadian woman in search of a location in the remote Tunisian desert. And the wise man that she hired as her guide and driver tells her stories in order to reveal her secret…
Besides having won numerous awards at prestigious festivals such as Locarno, Cinema du Reel, Valencia, Kartaca, Ouagadougou, and Nantes; he was also honored with an award under Henri Langlois’s name in Paris, who was a legendary figure in the history of cinema.
Rakhshan Banietemad is a leading director who has created a unique approach in Iranian cinema with her social criticism and her film style focused on female characters, the poor, and the laborers, while blending hyperreality with a genuine sentimentality.
Born in Tehran in 1954. She studied film directing at Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. At the age of 20, she began her television career and gained experience by working on documentary and feature film projects. Soon after becoming a production designer for TV, she started to direct short documentaries. After the regime change, however, she was forced to quit her TV career due to restrictions toward women. She later worked as a production designer on Mehdi Sabbagh Zadeh’s film “Aftap Neshih-ha” in 1981, and made her directorial debut with “Kharej az Mahdude” in 1986.
Quoted from the documentary filmmaker Farhad Eivazi, who produced notable works on Banietemad: “Rakhshan Banietemad has usually portrayed brave, activist, hardworking, fighter women in her films, revealing her certain point of view on the matter. All these films are the results of the issues that the Iranians had to deal with in the wake of the revolution, and the times they endured the conflicts caused by the war. Undoubtedly, a unique film style is required to portray such times, and today, Banietemad is distinguished from her colleagues by this unique film style of hers… Being completely independent while making her documentaries and feature films also enabled her to produce unique works. Banietemad’s Cinema was born from the interaction of the popular cinema trends and the artistic requirements in Iran.” (Eivazi, 2014:231)
After the mid-80s, she pursued her career mostly in cinema. Banietemad scripted eight feature films, directed 17 films including both documentaries and fictions. She’s always focused on the poor people in her films, and addressed the life’s vital issues, such as rural-urban migration, financial difficulties and the ghetto life. Having started her career as a documentary filmmaker, reality is an essential to her films. Unlike the typical reality-fiction mesh in the Iranian cinema, she doesn’t use reality as a tool for fiction. In Banietemad’s films; the streets, living spaces and poor neighborhoods appear in their natural forms. Instead of transforming the places, she aims to reflect the reality of life on the silver screen.
Although she usually had to wait for a few years, she has excelled at overcoming the censorship issues, and is known to be a master at outsmarting the censorship board. Her films have always been legitimate, but also very liberal and investigative.
As the first consistent female director of the Iranian cinema, she has an important mission as well. She led the way for world-renowned Iranian female directors such as Tahmineh Milani, Niki Karimi, and Ida Panahandeh, who stepped into filmmaking after Banietemad and gained a place in the film industry.
In Iran, where art is exercised in the most aesthetic way in the Middle East, women linger between a profound art scene and the strict rules. Only their determined fight will tell how far they can go. And in their fight, Rakhshan Banietemad has become a role model and an authentic director guiding the others.