Archivi tag: travellikealocal

The rise of Turkish soap power


Magnificent Century

As Turkish soap operas reach increasing numbers of viewers in the Arab world, the sight on TV screens of Muslims drinking alcohol or conducting adulterous relationships is becoming commonplace – and the shows have presented a new image of relations between man and woman.

At the start of the protests that recently swept Turkey, journalists picked out one man with a luxuriant beard among the youthful crowds in Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

Later he met the Turkish PM as part of a group hoping to mediate between the government and demonstrators.

That man is Halit Ergenc and he is internationally famous largely because of his role as a Sultan – hence the beard – in a Turkish TV costume drama, Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil), that has been sold to dozens of countries.

Habib Battah

It’s one thing if there were a couple of popular Turkish series, but they are on every single major Arab channel”

Habib BattahBeirut-based media critic and blogger

Set in the Ottoman world, it spins the yarn of Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest reigning Sultan, and his love for a Western woman in his harem, with whom he becomes obsessed, and eventually marries.

About to film its fourth season, it is one of the shows that earned Turkey $130m in foreign sales last year – up from a mere $1m in 2007.

That it looks back 500 years to the era when Turkish Sultans ruled much of the Balkans and the Middle East is perhaps appropriate, as it has been seen in 47 countries mostly from this region.

The exported shows rely on a heady mix of slick production, storylines full of passion and intrigue (there was plenty of that in Suleiman’s court), beautiful actors and actresses, and iconic Turkish locations.

Take Forbidden Love (Ask-i Memnu). It is set in a mansion on the Bosphorus and tells the story of the forbidden passion between a handsome young man, Behlul, and a beautiful young woman, Bihter, who is married to his uncle.

They live under the same roof. You know this is not going to turn out well.

Ask-i Memnu

Behlul is played by Kivanc Tatlitug, who has become a heartthrob in the region and, due to his light-coloured good looks, even been dubbed the “Halal Brad Pitt”.

Ask-i Memnu

Like Magnificent Century, it has its fair dose of love scenes, which may seem tame to a Western audience, but are eye-catching by the standards of Arab countries.

Some 85 million people in the Arab world were glued to the final episode of breakthrough show Gumus (Silver) in 2008, and the audience for Turkish dramas has grown year by year.

Top Turkish titles

1001 Nights (Binbir Gece)
  • Silver (Gumus/Noor), produced by ANS Production. The deep love between a poor girl and a richer husband. Sold to 56 countries.
  • Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil), Tims Productions. Massive costume drama set in Suleiman I’s Ottoman world. Sold to 47 countries.
  • Forbidden Love (Ask-i Memnu), Ay Yapim. Forbidden passions in a mansion on the Bosphorus. Sold to 46 countries.
  • 1001 Nights (Binbir Gece), TMC Film. A mother accepts an indecent proposal form her boss to pay for her son’s cancer treatment. Sold to 46 countries.
  • The Fall Of Leaves (Yaprak Dokumu), Ay Yapim. A tight-knit family arrive in Istanbul to face many challenges. Sold to 45 countries.
  • What is Fatmagul’s Crime? (Fatmagul’un Sucu Ne?), Ay Yapim. Fatmagul is raped, and marries Kerim who wrongly believes himself to be the perpetrator of the crime. Sold to 37 countries.

Statistics source: Global Agency, Ay Yapim and Dogan TV Holding

It’s partly because they fill a gap in the market.

“There is definitely a shortage of good scripts and high production values in Arab television,” says Habib Battah, a Beirut-based media critic and author of The Beirut Report blog.

“It’s one thing if there were a couple of popular Turkish series, but they are on every single major Arab channel.”

Previous imports had included soaps from Latin America, but these had less impact, Battah says.

One reason for this is that they were dubbed into classical Arabic, while the Turkish dramas began in 2007 to be dubbed into a Syrian dialect.

This made the stories “more engaging” and “the voice actors more believable”, Habib says.

Another reason is that the Arab audience feels so much closer to Turkish culture than, say, Brazil’s.

Fatma Sapci, head of acquisitions at production company Ay Yapim, which was behind Forbidden Love, says this makes it easy for audiences across the region to consider the show’s actors as “part of their family”.

And these soaps explore family dynamics in challenging ways.

“Turkish serials deal with many issues that Arab television is afraid of dealing with such as gender equality, treason and love affairs, and discussing the subject of illegitimate children born outside of marriage,” says Professor Asli Tunc, head of the Media School at Istanbul Bilgi University.

What is Fatmagul's crime? (Fatmagul'un sucu ne?) What is Fatmagul’s crime? triggered a debate about the law that excuses a rapist if he marries his victim

But possibly the biggest talking point among the audience has been the topic of male-female relations.

Some of these shows speak to female viewers by featuring unorthodox male leads, who are romantic instead of being macho, Tunc says.

Silver/Gumus, for example, depicts a romantic love between the heroine Gumus (called Noor in the Arab world) and her husband Mehmet (Muhannad).

Women would remark to their husbands on how well the lead character treated his wife – it set a romantic ideal where “women are valued, appreciated and adored,” says Mazen Hayek, spokesman for the Saudi-backed Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC).

The impact of the show was such that Arab women “started talking to their husbands through Turkish drama”, he says.

The story was thought-provoking for conservative societies where expressions of love are usually private, adds Abdallah Alsalmi, Middle East media analyst at BBC Monitoring.

And because the characters on screen had plenty in common with Arab audiences, it was more controversial as well as easier to relate to, he says.

Dubbing decision

Mazen Hayek

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek,

In 2007 MBC began dubbing Turkish shows into a Syrian dialect. We wanted to build on the success of popular Syrian drama Bab al Hara.

Previously shows had been dubbed into classical Arabic which created a disconnect for viewers. What they were hearing was much more rigid than what they were seeing.

The Syrian dialect is much closer to how people speak. We opted for professional Syrian voice-over actors and made sure they matched the personality of the characters.

But Dr Dina Matar from the Centre for Media and Film at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London cautions against the idea that the dramas have led to a “fundamental shift” in attitudes toward women in the region.

Instead they have fed into a debate that had already begun, in various shows produced by Arabs and aired on Arab television, she says, as the media space in the Middle East has expanded.

The export of these dramas has occurred in parallel with a push by Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, to boost Turkish cultural power – a policy sometimes described as neo-Ottoman.

While the government has created Yunus Emre Cultural Centres – akin to the British Council or the Alliance Francaise – in a number of countries, the shows have also played their part in presenting a positive image of Turkey.

The Culture Ministry directly links the dramas with a rise in the number of tourists to Turkey from Arab countries in the last five years.

Izzet Pinto, CEO of Turkey’s Global Agency – which distributes Magnificent Century and other top titles – puts it like this: “We are showing our country to millions of viewers. We are showing the beautiful scenery, our lifestyle and traditions.

“So we have a great influence on people through soft power.”

By Nathan Williams

BBC News




Rainbow steps return after Beyoğlu mayor vows ‘colorful era’ in Istanbul’s bohemian neighborhood


Istanbul’s Beyoğlu municipality repainted the rainbow steps in the Fıkdıklı-Cihangir neighborhood in the early morning of Aug. 31, only a day after they had painted over them in grey, triggering an outcry from locals.The Beyoğlu mayor had personally expressed his regret over the controversial “graying” of the previously rainbow Fıkdıklı-Cihangir neighborhood steps on Aug. 30, vowing to “color up” all the steps in the area linking the shore to the hillside.

“We have finished our works on the colorful steps. We will gather together the residents and organize a small plebiscite. My vote is ‘yes.’ I hope the votes of the residents will be the same,” Ahmet Misbah Demircan said via Twitter on Aug. 30.

“I can say that an era of colorful steps will start in Beyoğlu,” he added.

Locals had reacted strongly after municipality workers painted grey the famous “rainbow” steps, which had been orginally colored by a retired local “to put a smile on people’s faces.”

The mayor praised the project but defended the municipal workers, saying they had acted following a complaint.

The stairs have been repainted

in the early hours of Aug. 31.
DHA photo

“One of our citizens took a decision and offered Beyoğlu such a beautiful project. However, he made a methodological mistake. Not only did he not apply to the municipality, but he did not inform the other residents in the neighborhood,” Misbah Demircan said, adding that this had led to complaints.

“Our friends [the municipal workers] who considered these complaints were obliged to paint over those colors,” he said.

Local resident Hüseyin Çetinel had taken it upon himself to paint the nearly 200 stairs with an assistant, Volkan Tecimeroğlu.

Çelikel painted only three of the steps at first, but said he decided to paint them all after hearing very positive comments from passers-by. Joined by three of his friends, he spent around 1,500 Turkish Liras, nearly $725, with the painting taking one week and 40 kilos of paint.In response to the graying, social media users had already organized an event to repaint the steps, which was set to take place on Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. The event called on everyone to gather at the stairs to create the rainbow again.

“Take your brush and come,” became a call on social media websites, while thousands used the #resiststeps hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, becoming Twitter’s most trending topic.



fonte: hurriyetdailynews

VOGUE:Ferzan Ozpetek



Affascinato dalla cultura e dalla spontaneità del nostro Paese, Ferzan Ozpetek ha costruito qui la sua carriera, che oggi conta una decina di film dove sono protagoniste le relazioni sentimentali e familiari

Nel 1976 a Roma si vive la fase di massimo fervore culturale e politico. Qui, a 17 anni, si trasferisce Ferzan Ozpetek, con la promessa ai genitori di trascorrerci un solo anno, dopo il quale rientrare in Turchia e dedicarsi alla formazione auspicata dalla famiglia. Ma «se uno fa sempre quello che gli dicono gli altri non vale la pena di vivere» (dice Ilaria Occhini-la nonna nel film Mine vaganti) e il giovane Ferzan ne è già consapevole.

Non ritorna in Turchia e per giunta a Roma si iscrive prima all’Accademia di arte drammatica Silvio D’Amico, poi alla Facoltà di lettere della Sapienza. Affascinato da Roma, città dai mille volti, e dal buon umore dei suoi abitanti, Ferzan non si lascia intimidire dai genitori, i quali gli tagliano i fondi per convincerlo a ritornare a casa.

Studia cinema e letteratura, lavora come corniciaio e spesso dipinge i volti allegri dei passanti che scruta con curiosità e attenzione. Il suo amore per il cinema è un crescendo, anche se è ben consapevole di quanto sia difficile entrare in quel mondo. La sua passione diventa determinazione e per potersi inserire in tali ambienti inizia a scrivere per una rivista turca di arte, grazie alla quale ottiene accrediti per partecipare ad eventi come critico cinematografico.

Alla prima occasione che gli si presenta non esita a proporsi come aiuto regista e sarà proprio Massimo Troisi a volerlo al suo fianco. Inizia per lui la carriera cinematografica e collaborando con Marco Risi raggiunge una certa notorietà.

Nel 1997 Ferzan Ozpetek presenta il suo primo film da regista Il bagno turco – Hamam, film rivelazione, acclamato dalla critica internazionale e presentato in svariati festival nel mondo tra cui alla 50ma edizione del Festival di Cannes nella sezione Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. Solo due anni dopo, ritorna sul grande schermo conHarem suare (1999), film presentato al Festival di Cannes nella sezione Un Certain Regard, al London Film Festival e al Toronto International Film Festival. La sua poetica si manifesta chiara e decisa fin dall’inizio. Romantico per alcuni versi e realista per altri, il suo sguardo si insinua negli angoli più intimi delle persone: ne coglie le aspirazioni, le paure, le debolezze, le passioni. In Le fate ignoranti (2001), film di inaudito successo che gli vale 3 Globi d’oro e 4 Nastri d’Argento, Ozpetek conferma e rafforza le tematiche a lui più care: l’amicizia, l’omosessualità, il dolore della perdita di qualcuno e la determinazione di ricominciare a vivere.

download (1) images (1)Il successo è inarrestabile, tant’è che la critica accoglie e premia con 5 David di Donatello, 4 Ciak d’Oro e 3 Globi d’Oro il suo film successivo: La finestra di fronte (2003), il cui cast  vede in prima fila Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Raoul Bova, Filippo Nigro e Massimo Girotti, alla sua ultima apparizione. Ambientato a Roma, qui il regista intreccia con maestria il percorso di due vite: quello della giovane mamma frustrata da un’esistenza che concede poche soddisfazioni e il vissuto di un signore anziano che rivelerà un passato duro, con conseguenze ancora difficili da accettare.

L’ombra del passato è presente in ogni suo film: ne La finestra di fronte i flashback descrivono una Roma attanagliata dal terrore delle leggi razziali contro gli ebrei e della persecuzione da loro subite; mentre in Cuore sacro, (opera successiva, 2005, vincitrice di 1 Globo d’oro e 3 premi Flaiano), il passato rivive attraverso le stanze di un palazzo, che ancora riecheggiano la vita della sua padrona Adriana, madre di Irene, protagonista del film.

Se con Cuore sacro, Ozpetek mette da parte la tematica dell’omosessualità per focalizzarsi sull’idea di perdita e desiderio di cambiamento, nel 2007 il regista presenta il suo nuovo film, che rispetta in toto i tratti principali delle sue opere. Saturno contro, distribuito nel 2007, consolida la fama del cineasta turco, ottenendo 4 Ciak d’Oro, 5 Globi d’Oro, 4 Nastri d’Argento e un David di Donatello. Questa storia ripropone al pubblico i suoi temi classici: la perdita di una persona cara, il tradimento, la forza dell’amicizia e marginalmente i legami omosessuali. Il 2008 è un anno significativo per Ferzan Ozpetek, che realizza la prima opera di cui non ha scritto la sceneggiatura. Un giorno perfetto, trasposizione dell’omonimo romanzo di Melania Gaia Mazzucco viene presentato anche alla 65° Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, schierando la critica su più fronti. Ma il vero cambiamento avviene quando Ozpetek riappare con il film Mine vaganti.

Non solo si allontana dalla città che per anni ha rappresentato il suo set a cielo aperto, ma il regista dà un taglio netto ai toni cupi e le atmosfere tristi delle sue opere precedenti. Si sposta nel sud, nel Salento, per raccontare con colori accesi e ironia incalzante il dramma di una famiglia tradizionalista che non riesce ad accettare l’omosessualità di uno dei due figli. Scene tragicomiche in cui traspare una mentalità borghese, conservatrice e provinciale da contrapporre alla saggezza e triste rassegnazione di una donna, la nonna, libera da pregiudizi e posta ad osservare le leggi “non scritte” di una comunità del sud Italia.

Nel 2012, Ferzan Ozpetek ritorna nella capitale con Magnifica presenza. Film che ha ottenuto numerose candidature ai David di Donatello e ai Nastri d’Argento, si presenta in maniera insolita e diversa. Il regista rispetta il filone tragicomico intrapreso con l’opera precedente, anche se questa volta vi inserisce un tocco di mistero.

Il protagonista, interpretato da Elio Germano, ricerca nella sua solitudine un modo per concretizzare i suoi sogni e superare le difficoltà. Anche qui, Ozpetek riflette sul tema dell’omosessualità e incrocia la vita piuttosto normale del ragazzo con un gruppo di attori- fantasmi. Il passato e il presente ritornano ad intrecciarsi, proprio come ne La finestra di fronte, e il ragazzo con l’aiuto di queste strane entità effettuerà un percorso di crescita personale e artistico. Ozpetek è nel frattempo tornato nel salento per girare il suo prossimo film: Allacciate le cinture, con Kasia Smutniak, Francesco Arca, Francesco Scianna e Carolina Crescentini, in cui si parlerà di amore eterosessuale e delle sue trasformazioni nel tempo.

harem_suare_marie_gillain_ferzan_ozpetek_015_jpg_kepd harem_suare_marie_gillain_ferzan_ozpetek_021_jpg_yfmn locandina

Caterina Mirijello

Angelo Bucarelli. Alla Biennale di Istanbul….




A ridar vita all’hammam più antico e grande della capitale turca, nella zona di Cibali, è un artista italiano, Angelo Bucarelli. Dopo un anno passato fra Milano ed Istanbul, Bucarelli è quasi pronto a mostrare la sua istallazione, parte della 13° edizione dellaBiennale di Istanbul, che mira a rappresentare la millenaria città turca in una goccia.

L’opea, “Water. Like Tears of Love“, prende il proprio nome da un verso del poeta ottomano Tursun Bey, che accompagnò il Sultano Mehmet II alla conquista di Costantinopoli. Ma, soprattutto, esprime la centralità dell’acqua, elemento portante dell’hammam, simbolo di rinascita e – secondo l’artista che vi si reca fin dal 1972- essenza dell’identità di Istanbul.

“Osservando il Bosforo e il Corno D’Oro da un terrazzo di Galata ho pensato a Tursun Bey il quale, entrando per la prima volta a Costantinopoli, era rimasto egualmente esterrefatto dall’abbondanza di acqua nella città”, dice Bucarelli.

Il Kucuk Mustafa Pasha Hammam, eretto 500 anni fa (nel 1477) e chiuso negli anni ’90 per lavori di restaurazione, gli è subito parso il luogo ideale per l’installazione che verrà esibita al pubblico dal 15 settembre al 13 ottobre di quest’anno. L’organizzazione è dell’istituto italiano di cultura ad Istanbul e la curatrice è Laura Barreca.

Bucarelli si è servito di metallo, vetro e tessuti- alcuni ricamati- integrandoli con la sua vera passione, la fotografia. Il soffitto forato del bagno turco ricrea una struttura a forma di globo, con meridiani di ferro che ricreano l’emisfero Sud, ai quali sono fissai preziosi pendenti di vetro di Murano che rappresentano la calligrafia ottomana. Ai muri, i tradizionali pestamals (gli asciugamani usati nell’hammam), raffigurano undici parole (anche queste con calligrafia ottomana) scelte dall’artista per descrivere l’acqua: “sete, orizzonte, oscurità e luce, profondità, rispetto, specchio, fonte, sudore, clima e veleno”. Queste ultime sono concepite da Bucarelli per esser lette nelle 6 lingue parlate, nei secoli, nella capitale: turco, curdo, latino, greco, armeno ed ebraico.

r-BUCCARELLI-large570 2013-07-15-22WaterLikeTearsofLoveKucukMustafaPasaHammamThewordrain 2013-07-15-21KucukMustafaPasahammam1477PhotoCeylanAtuk


Amidst the Gezi protests Istanbul is hosting a world renowned Italian artist,Angelo Bucarelli, for his site-specific installation at Istanbul’s oldest and biggest hammam. Bucarelli aims to convey the city’s rich culture and history in a single water drop.

These days, Istanbul is notorious for its protests and protesters after Gezi Park hit the headlines of international media. Many cancelled their vacations, some called off their concerts or shows and a few decided to postpone their business travels. But one artist decided to go ahead with his prearranged plans. World-renowned Italian artist, sculptor and photographer Angelo Bucarelli chose an Ottoman bath in Cibali, a historical neighborhood along the Golden Horn, to showcase his contemporary artwork. And this is where I found him.


Bucarelli has been shuttling between Milano and Istanbul for the past year to assemble his site-specific installation at Istanbul’s oldest and largest hammam. The installation is part of the 13th Istanbul Biennial and the artist’s aim is to take up the challenge of expressing the unique city in a single water drop. The name of the piece, “Water. Like Tears of Love”, was taken from a verse written by Tursun Bey, an Ottoman poet who accompanied Mehmet the Conqueror as the sultan was earning his sobriquet by taking Constantinople.

As curator Laura Barreca says, the exhibition of Angelo Bucarelli, in all its complexity, is a journey through the history, poetry, memory and love, in the temple where the water, the purest of the elements, becomes an expression and a metaphor of renewal.

“Since I first came to Istanbul in 1972” said Bucarelli, “I’ve understood that the key to the Istanbul’s identity is water.”

“Looking at the Bosporus and the Golden Horn from a terrace of Galata,” he continued, “I have thought of Tursun Bey, who was also struck by the abundance of water in the city when he first entered Constantinople and ‘like tears of lovers’, he wrote.”

Taking the advise made by Alessandra Ricci, an Italian historian from the Koç University’s Archeology and History of Art Department, to heart, Bucarelli immediately knew that the 500 year-old hammam was the best venue for his installation. After being shown the deserted hammam, Bucarelli felt like an invisible hand had protected it for 500 years just for the sake of his site-specific installation, which will be held between September 15 and October 13 this year.

The invisible hand

Yavuz Mermerci, current owner of the hammam, is probably the last ring in this chain of invisible hands protecting the hammam. “Mermerci Holding purchased the hammam in 1995 and started an 18 years long restoration work since then so as to prevent a collapse,” Mermerci said. He is glad his hammam will be hosting this event.

Actually it was Leyla Alaton, a highly respected businesswoman, philanthropist and member of board of Alarko Holding, who convinced Mermerci to let the event be held at the hammam. Speaking at Palazzo Venezia, an allegiant historical Venetian palace in Istanbul used as the residence of Italian ambassador, Alaton told me about why she supported the installation. She said she got excited when an Italian artist discovered one of the long abandoned jewels of Istanbul and wanted to present it to the world.

Pınar Akalin, the executive director of the exhibit, said the cost of the site-specific installation is around 230.000 euros, most of which is covered by sponsors. Akalin said the installation organized by the Italian Institute of Culture in Istanbul and curated by Laura Barreca will be ready for the opening on Sept. 15, and those interested will have an opportunity to see both the art and the building until Oct. 13.

Italian Ambassador Gianpaolo Scarante, renowned for his efforts to demonstrate the common values shared by Turkish and Italian cultures, worked tirelessly to promote the installation. Scarante said he is working on two more projects, both of which will be permanent artworks that would enrich the city.

Water is the identity of Istanbul

Continuing his research on concepts of identity, Bucarelli discovered in water the essence of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul’s identity and choose it as the mode to reflect his art. “My work inquires about the complex world of identity and primordial human instinct of communication,” said Bucarelli. “Isolating words, I try to enter the difficult space of meanings and experience. In this new challenge, I would like to stimulate the observer to open his mind to a personal simple and deep perception of encountering a different culture and make it his own.”

As location, Bucarelli chose Cibali, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Istanbul and an old hammam, the epicenter and the symbol of social civilization, where water is protagonist. The Kucuk Mustafa Pasha Hammam is a beautiful complex — closed in the 1990s and subject of a meticulous restoration project — built in 1477 during the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror, 24 years after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul.

“The ancient bath known as Kucuk Mustafa Pasha Hammam is near the shore of the Golden Horn below the Fourth Hill. This is one of the oldest and grandest hammams in the city, founded before 1512 by Koca Mustafa Pasha, grand vizier under Beyazit II” the American historian John Freely tells of the hammam in his famous book, A History of Ottoman Architecture. But in fact the hammam is founded by Kara Mustafa Pasha, nicknamed as “Kucuk or little” so as to prevent confusion with Koca Mustafa, who also lived in the same era.

Bucarelli involved the local community and handicrafts to expand the role of his art. As is usual for him, the work utilizes different materials such as iron, glass, as well as fabrics and embroidery, integrating them all with photography, which is his passion. The light that penetrates the hammam from the circled openings of the dome gives rise to bright lively colors.

Rain of glass words

A part of the installation, named “Rain of Glass Words,” recreates the form of a large globe with the dome as northern hemisphere and iron meridians forming the southern hemisphere, from which hang, like drops of water, precious Murano glass sculptures that duplicate Ottoman calligraphy.

On the walls, the traditional horizontally striped Turkish towels, or pestamals, become woven tapestries that bring eleven words again in Ottoman calligraphy in gold, chosen by the artist to describe water: Thirst, horizon, dark and light, depth, respect, mirror, spring, sweat, weather and poison. Bucarelli uses the written text in its dual symbolic and evocative essence, with the aim to give back the semiotic sense of poetry and the visual purity. Those pestamals will remind one of the usual hammam items but at the same time the calligraphy will recall mosque decorations.

In the quest to reflect the city’s identity, Bucarelli wanted those eleven words to be read in six languages spoken in this city throughout the history, among which were Turkish, Kurdish, Latin, Greek, Armenian and Hebrew. This is to indicate one should refer to more than one nationality, language or culture so as to understand Istanbul’s rich and complex identity.