October 11, 12 & 13

Now in its seventh year, the Houston Turkish Film Festival has joined the international itinerary of festivals around the world celebrating the achievements of Turkey’s film industry. Among this year’s highlights are Turkish Ice Cream (Türk işi dondurma), a historical drama set in 1915 Australia; The Pigeon (Güvercin), a coming-of-age film set in Adana; and Sibel, set in the Black Sea region, about a young woman who uses an ancestral whistled language to communicate.

Film Festival Pricing
$10 MFAH members, students with ID, and seniors (65+) receive a $2 discount.

Generous funding is provided by the American Turkish Association of Houston and Catherine and Cenk Ozdogan.

Special thanks to the Consulate General of Turkey in Houston.

Special thanks for a donation from Turkish Airlines, Star Alliance partner with United Airlines, the Official Airline of the MFAH.

Past Events in This Series

Serial Cook (Sofra sirlari)

2018, Turkish with English subtitles
Ümit Ünal

Neslihan is the perfect cook. She fantasizes about being a TV chef—until she becomes the prime suspect in a series of mysterious murders.

The Pigeon (Güvercin)

2018, Turkish with English subtitles
Banu Sivaci

A shy young man feels more comfortable caring for his pet pigeons than he does at work or socializing with others in his community.

Turkish Ice Cream (Türk işi dondurma)

2019, English and Turkish with English subtitles
Can Ulkay

When World War I begins, two Turks living in Australia face obstacles trying to return home.

Ayla: The Daughter of War

2017, Korean, Turkish, and Chinese with English subtitles
Can Ulkay

During the Korean War, an orphan is adopted by a Turkish soldier. Based on a true story.


2018, Turkish with English subtitles
Guillaume Giovanetti and Çağla Zencirci

A village outsider who speaks an ancestral whistled language risks alienating herself even more after encountering a “visitor” in the forest.

Yellow Heat (Sari sicak)

2017, Turkish
Fikret Reyhan

In person to introduce the screening: writer/director Fikret Reyhan & producer Nizamettin Reyhan
This compelling drama follows a young man from a farming family who sees a different future for himself. 

Sour Apples (Eksi elmalar)

2016, Turkish
Yilmaz Erdoğan

A small-town mayor is overprotective of his three beautiful daughters in this warm-hearted crowd pleaser.

Butterflies (Kelebekler)

2018, Turkish with English subtitles
Tolga Karaçelik

Estranged siblings are called to their father’s deathbed in this dark comedy. Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Her First (Onun Filmi)

2018, Turkish with English subtitles
Merve Bozcu and Su Baloglu

In person to introduce the screening: filmmakers Su Baloglu & Merve Bozcu
This documentary—presented in its U.S. premiere—explores the challenges faced by female filmmakers in Turkey today. The audience is invited to a reception in the galleries following the post-film discussion!

My Mother’s Wound (Annemin Yarasi)

2016, in various languages with English subtitles
Ozan Açiktan

In a new drama based on a true story, an 18-year-old searches for the truth about his family—and discovers a dark past he wasn’t prepared to find. For mature audiences.

The Turkish Way

2016, Catalan, Spanish, French, English, and Turkish with English subtitles
Luis González

This documentary explores the culinary delights of ancient Turkey as the Roca Brothers tour the country, diving into the rich, diverse culinary cultures of one of the world’s major crossroads.

Blue Bicycle (Mavi Bisiklet)

2016, Turkish with English subtitles
Ümit Köreken

In this acclaimed debut feature from filmmaker Ümit Köreken, a Turkish boy puts off his dream of buying a bicycle to help a fellow student.

My Father’s Wings (Babamin Kanatlari)

2016, Turkish and Kurdish with English subtitles
Kivanç Sezer

Unsafe working conditions for a group of construction workers in Istanbul affect each in different ways in filmmaker Kivanç Sezer's debut feature.

61 Days (Iftarlik Gazoz)

2016, Turkish with English subtitles
Yüksel Aksu

Children are not allowed to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, but young Adem, who gets a job selling soda on his summer vacation, breaks tradition in this charming comedy/drama.

Lemonade (Limonata)

2015, in Turkish with English subtitles
Ali Atay

Ali Atay, a TV and movie star in Turkey, takes a turn at directing this feature film, a comedy about two half-brothers who meet for the first time when summoned to their father’s deathbed.

Kedi: Cats in Istanbul

2016, in Turkish with English subtitles
Ceyda Torun

This charming and colorful new documentary offers a unique tour of the vibrant city of Istanbul from the perspective of its beloved felines and the humans who care for them.

125 Years Memory

2015, in Japanese and Turkish with English subtitles
Mitsutoshi Tanaka

Introduced by Mr. Ferhat Alkan, Consul General of Turkey and Mr. Takeshi Sugiura, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Japan in Houston This moving and dramatic historical epic is based on events that happened a century apart, leading to two humanitarian initiatives that have indelibly linked Turkey and Japan.


2015, in Turkish with English subtitles
Can Evrenol

This Turkish film has been thrilling horror fans at festivals around the world over the past year. A squad of unsuspecting police officers working the night shift is called to a seemingly abandoned building, only to find themselves in the midst of a shocking ritual celebration of black magic. 


2015, in Turkish with English subtitles
Tolga Karaçelik

This gripping character study follows six men confined to a ship anchored at port for 120 days. The men suffer hunger, thirst, and isolation—all leading to a growing paranoia. As the men argue and struggle against the rules, the ship becomes a hunting ground. 


2014, in Turkish with English subtitles
Kaan Müjdeci

Director Kaan Müjdeci is in attendance and joins a Q&A after the screening. Set in an Anatolian village in Eastern Turkey, Sivas is a coming-of-age story about 11-year-old Aslan and Sivas, a weathered fighting dog. They develop a strong bond after the boy rescues the wounded animal. 

Winter Sleep

2014, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Jazz in Turkey

2013, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Why Can’t I Be Tarkovsky?

2014, Turkish with English subtitles

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.

Mix Tape

2014, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Whisper If I Forget

2014, Turkish with English subtitles

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,[…]


2013, Turkish and Kurdish with English subtitles

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,[…]

Happy Family Journal

2013, Turkish with English subtitles

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. 

Somewhere in Between

2012, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Yozgat Blues

2013, Turkish with English subtitles

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.

Thou Gild'st the Even

2013, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

The Butterfly's Dream

2013, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Love Likes Coincidences

2011, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]


2012, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Polluting Paradise

2012, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

The Extremely Tragic Story of Celal Tan and His Family

2011, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Lost Songs of Anatolia

2010, Turkish with English subtitles

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. 

Toll Booth

2010, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]

Shattered Soul

2006, Turkish with English subtitles

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[…]