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Turkish Film Festival

The third edition of the Museum’s annual Turkish Film Festival features screenings March 27–29, 2015. Go behind the scenes with Marian Luntz, curator of film and video, in her blog post about the festival.

Special Ticket Prices Apply $10 for adults; $8 for MFAH members, senior adults, and students with ID. Contact to inquire about group sales.

Generous funding is provided by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and Cenk and Catherine Ozdogan.

Thanks to the Consulate General of Turkey in Houston; the Boston Turkish Film Festival; and the Adana Golden Boll Film Festival.

Past Films in This Series


Shattered Soul


2006, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Mustafa Altioklar
In person: actor Tamer Karadağlı The psychological thriller Shattered Soul is an absorbing murder mystery.  Beyza’s (Demet Evgar) normal life is thrown off balance with strange, occasional memory blackouts.  Meanwhile, a series of murders prompts the entire city of Istanbul to suspect a serial killer. The Police Lieutenant Fatih (Tamar Karadagli) investigates the gruesome murders with his new expert partner, Beyza’s husband Doruk (Levent Uzumcu), a psychiatrist. As the police follow the trail of the murderer, it becomes clear that ... more info

Toll Booth


2010, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Tolga Karaçelik
Kenan (Serkan Ercan) is a middle-aged toll booth attendant working at one of Turkey’s busiest highways.  Isolated and lonely, he goes from the routine of his job to a home life consumed by caring for his demanding, elderly father.  Increasingly preoccupied by memories of a happier time, he has a confrontation with his boss that leads to reassignment to a remote tollbooth in the middle of a poppy field. Among the occasional nomads who pass by is a beautiful woman ... more info

Lost Songs of Anatolia


2010, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Nezih Unen
Enjoy a musical voyage among the exotic places and people of Anatolia, host of ancient civilizations, empires, and mythologies over 10 millennia. The result of 350 hours of footage over 8 years, Lost Songs of Anatolia may be the first example of an experimental musical-documentary film. The cultural riches of Anatolia are sung in authentic performances recorded live on location.  General admission is $10. MFAH members, senior adults, and students with ID receive a $2 discount.  more info

The Extremely Tragic Story of Celal Tan and His Family


2011, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Onur Ünlü
Don’t be fooled by the title! Part comedy and part political satire, The Extremely Tragic Story of Celal Tan and His Family concerns a series of unfortunate events that befall Celal Tan, a widowed, well-respected law professor who lives in a provincial city and has two children. He marries a much younger university student, but on the eve of a surprise 65th birthday party his family has organized, everything spins out of control. The film won awards for best film and best ... more info

Polluting Paradise


2012, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Fatih Akin
German-Turkish auteur Akin (Head-On; The Edge of Heaven), one of the most successful practitioners of transnational cinema, brings his considerable storytelling skills to this documentary account of environmental devastation inflicted on the once-lovely seaside town of Çamburnu. The issue is personal to Akin, whose father’s family hails from the town which in 2007 became the site of a massive garbage landfill that polluted the soil, turned water black, filled the air with an overpowering stench, and triggered a general exodus ... more info



2012, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Pelin Esmer
Documentary filmmaker Pelin Esmer makes her feature debut with Watchtower, a compelling character study of two people who are drawn to each other while seeking refuge from their private demons. Nihat (Olgun Simsek) has taken a position as a fire warden in a remote tower far out in the wilderness. Seher (Nilay Erdonmez) lives in a makeshift room at a rural bus station where she works as a coach hostess. Destined to come to a crossroads, they go about their solitary ... more info

Love Likes Coincidences


2011, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak
The second-highest grossing Turkish film of 2011, Love Likes Coincidences is a full-throttle romance in the grand tradition of An Affair to Remember and And Now, My Love. Aspiring actress Deniz (Bilgin) attends an Istanbul exhibition curated by successful photographer Ozgür and recognizes herself as a child in one of the photos. The pair discovers that their destinies have been linked since the time they were born: on the same day, at the same hospital in Ankara. They pursue a romance in ... more info

The Butterfly's Dream

Kelebegin ruyasi

2013, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Yılmaz Erdoğan
The opening night selection is the highly acclaimed period film about love, life, and art and was Turkey’s candidate for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Academy Award. This lyrical drama centers on the lives of two poets, whose literary ambitions are set against the Black Sea coastal town of Zonguldak during the turbulent wartime atmosphere in 1941. Their lives become intertwined as both pursue love while contending with dealing with illness. Gokhan Tiryaki’s magnificent wide-screen visuals and an evocative and rousing ... more info

Thou Gild'st the Even

2013, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Onur Ünlü
Last year's Houston Turkish Film Festival featured Onur Ünlü’s droll The Extremely Sad Tale of Celal Tan and His Family. Ünlü continues to win acclaim as one of Turkey’s most innovative directors. His new film, which takes its title from a Shakespeare sonnet, is definitely for more adventurous film lovers! A mysterious modern day fable that is set in a small town in Anatolia, where anxious Cemal attempts suicide in a barbershop. Anxieties are prevalent in the village, where there ... more info

Yozgat Blues

2013, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Mahmut Fazıl Coşkun
Subtle humor and a strong ensemble cast highlight this bittersweet tale of a middle-aged nightclub singer and his protégé who relocate from Istanbul to a small regional city, seeking better opportunities.Yavuz and Nese end up in a nightclub in off-the-beaten-path Yozgat, where the owner wants to revamp his establishment. Nese’s presence reminds Yavuz that a woman’s touch is what is missing from his life, but Nese develops a friendship with a local barber that threatens Yavuz’s stability. more info

Somewhere in Between


2012; in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Yeşim Ustaoğlu
A riveting lead performance anchors this poignant coming-of-age film about a young woman trying to move beyond the limitations of her mundane rural life. Zehra is employed at a 24-hour restaurant between Ankara and Istanbul where she works with Olgun, who is smitten with her and dreams of appearing on a television game show. Meanwhile, Zehra meets an older truck driver who seems to offer her an escape and some stability. This fifth feature by one of Turkey’s leading contemporary ... more info

Happy Family Journal

Mutlu aile defteri

2013, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Nihat Durak
The legendary Turkish actor Tuncel Kurtiz, who died in 2013, stars in this quirky, comedic look at the ties that bind a family together. Widow and retired colonel Yildirim raises his children with such authoritarian rule that all three have become estranged from their father and each other. Years later, the adult children are forced to come together after Yildirim suffers an accident. Everyone hides something from the others as hilarious misadventures occur.  more info


2013, in Turkish and Kurdish with English subtitles
Directed by Reha Erdem
Described as a modern take on Little Red Riding Hood, this film focuses on Jîn, a Kurdish teenager who relies on her survival instincts when she flees to the forest, intent on reuniting with her family. She escapes armed military men and creates a space for herself in the dark and forbidding wilderness, where she courageously battles hunger, befriends animals, and dodges bullets. “Her mettle shines through in her wary but caregiving encounter with an injured Turkish soldier. All in all, ... more info

Whisper If I Forget

Unutursam Fısılda

2014, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Ҫagan Irmak
Q&A by director Çagan Irmak follows the screening Hatice, a singer who was a huge pop star in Turkey, returns to her childhood home where her older sister, Hanife, still lives. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Hatice reaches out to a sister who still holds deep resentments from their youth. The story of their lives unfolds through flashbacks tracing Hatice’s rebellious past, in which she flees her family to seek fame and fortune in the music world. The sisters' reunion reveals the deep, ... more info

Mix Tape

Karışık Kaset

2014, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Tunç Şahin
U.S. premiere! Q&A by director Tunç Şahin follows the screening Ulas (Sarp Apak), a music-loving 13-year-old in 1980s Istanbul, is in love with Emir (Özge Özpirinççi). When he prepares to give Emir a mix tape of songs on her birthday, Ulas realizes she has a boyfriend. Angry and dejected, Ulas spends the next 10 years working as a journalist, waiting for his chance to become a music critic. Eventually, Ulas and Emir run into each other again and spend a ... more info

Why Can’t I Be Tarkovsky?

Neden Tarkovski Olamıyorum

2014, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Murat Düzgünoğlu
Bahadir, a successful director of folkloric films, encounters personal and professional obstacles toward his goal of achieving cinematic brilliance in the style of his idol, the great cineaste Andrei Tarkovsky. more info

Jazz in Turkey

Türkiye'de Caz

2013, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Batu Akyol
A thoroughly researched oral history spiced with a fine selection of archival performances, Batu Aykol’s documentary Jazz in Turkey is both a chronological history of jazz in his homeland and an exploration of the impact of jazz music there. Compiled from more than 50 interviews, the film considers the evolution of jazz and its musicians in the context of Turkish history. The engaging result is the country’s first cinematic investigation of this topic by revealing that traditional Turkish music shares ... more info

Winter Sleep

Kis uykusu

2014, in Turkish with English subtitles
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
With the drama Winter Sleep, director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) earned Turkey its second Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) is a landlord and hotelier in a remote mountain region of Anatolia. Resting on the laurels of his former acting career, he spends time writing a column for the local newspaper, chatting with the foreign guests in the hotel, and procrastinating on plans to write a book about the history of Turkish ... more info