New Turkish Cinema, Asuman Suner
Metis Nonfiction
Cinema Studies
13 x 19.5 cm, 344 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-558-9

1st Print: April 2006
Asuman Suner
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About the Author
Asuman Suner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. Having received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Department of Sociology at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, she completed her Ph.D. in 1996 at the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Between 1995 and 1998 she taught at the Department of Comparative Literature at Hong Kong University as a full-time lecturer. Suner’s work focuses on film and cultural studies. She is the author of several articles published in English and Turkish in edited books and academic journals including Screen, Cinema Journal, Social Identities, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Sight and Sound, New Perspectives on Turkey and Toplum ve Bilim. For the last few years, Suner has focused her research on the new Turkish cinema. She has been invited by several academic institutions (including Bosphorus University; University of Texas, Austin; Duke University; and Sabancı University) to present parts of her research in seminars and conferences. She serves on the editorial board of New Perspectives on Turkey.
Asuman Suner
New Turkish Cinema
Belonging, Identity and Memory

Hayalet Ev
Yeni Türk Sinemasında Aidiyet, Kimlik ve Bellek

Rights sold / published by:
Arabic: Dar Kreidieh
English: IB Tauris

Investigating the new wave Turkish cinema in relation to the pressing issues of belonging, identity, and social memory in contemporary Turkey, this book stands out as a timely and original contribution to both Film Studies and Turkish Studies. Asuman Suner’s discussion focuses on a major thematic trope that we encounter in the films produced in Turkey during the past decade: the paradoxes of belonging. Belonging to a home or homeland, she tells us, has always been a problematic issue due to the complex social, historical and psychoanalytic baggage that comes with it. But the cultural and political specificities are also at work in shaping our experiences of belonging. Taking into account the drastic transformations that Turkish society has been going through for the last two decades, Suner performs close and engaging readings of different cinematic strategies employed by internationally acclaimed directors of new Turkish cinema, such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Zeki Demirkubuz and Yılmaz Erdoğan, in addressing issues around identity, memory and belonging.
       Suner shows that how the films position themselves with regard to the question of "belonging" constitutes a dividing line in the new Turkish cinema. Though both "popular" and "art" films revolve around similar themes, the tendency of popular films is to settle contradictions into some kind of comforting resolution, while art films make manifest the intrinsically paradoxical nature of the very question of belonging. However Suner is careful not to cast "popular" and "art" cinemas as constituting internally coherent and mutually exclusive categories within themselves. Indeed, she addresses the divergences within each category that destabilize the very distinction between the terms "popular cinema" and "art cinema".
       We hope this book, as well as the discussions it conveys and initiates will serve to counteract the scarcity of innovative academic work on Turkish cinema.
Introduction: New Turkish Cinema in Historical Perspective
Collective Childhood / Permanent Childishness: Popular Nostalgia Films
Play and Paradox: The Cinema of Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Claustrophobia, Abyss and Irony: The Cinema of Zeki Demirkubuz
Journeys of Impasse: New Political Films
Spatial Paradoxes: The New Image of Istanbul
Women’s Silences in New Turkish Cinema
Conclusion: Home is Where the Heart Is (Not)
Berna Akkıyal, Birgün Kitap Eki, 16 May 2006
"This study reveals Turkish cinema of the 90s as an inquiry into identity, one that is either within the boundaries of ‘home,’ that most intimate space of belonging, or fully outside it; an inquiry that oscillates between the sheltered innocence of childhood and the uncanny state of homelessness. Asuman Suner incorporates this material skillfully and with due measure into a theoretical framework. Her analysis is not limited to the thematic aspects of these films, it involves a careful reading of their visual texture. In this sense, Suner’s work provides a rich resource for rethinking the visual assets in contemporary Turkish cinema and for studying the existing diversity or similarities within this body of work."
Despite the prominence of the theme of journeying /migration in the narrative, Distant is a film not so much about mobility and displacement as the sense of getting stuck in an engulfing place where one is supposed to belong. "Provinciality," in this sense, appears to be a powerful thematic trope in Distant, like Ceylan’s earlier films, signifying constraining belonging and spatial confinement. It is doubly articulated in the narrative: On the one hand, the small town that Yusuf has come from represents provincial life in comparison to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated culture of Istanbul. On the other hand, however, the "small town" itself becomes a metaphor for provinciality of Turkey as a whole in relation to the ("Western") world. Mahmut’s former wife feels entrapped in Istanbul in a way similar to the way that Yusuf feels about his native town. In an interview, Ceylan explains how he feels about the perceived "provinciality" of Turkey as follows: "Turkey is from the small town of the world. I started going to Europe when I was seventeen; the disparity of those places is startling. They also make you feel somehow the extent to which they view Turkey as the small town" ("From Kasaba to Uzak: Interview with Nuri Bilge Ceylan" 2004)... Click for more 

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