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Home > Festivals & Events > The Way Home: The Films of Turkish Master Yılmaz Güney
The Way Home: The Films of Turkish Master Yılmaz Güney
February 16, 2012 until February 17, 2012

"One of the most remarkable and important filmmakers in the world today" — J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

A retrospective collection of works from Turkey’s favourite actor-turned-director Yılmaz Güney. His films portray an intimate view into Turkish life and remain a relevant reminder of the Kurdish film industry when it was ruled by its “Ugly King”.

This special series is presented in Ottawa in collaboration with the Turkish Canadian Cultural Association. Special thanks to Erju Ackman, Sertan Gun, and the Republic of Turkey. All films are presented in newly struck 35mm prints provided by the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture and Tourism - General Directorate of Copyright and Cinema. 

Born in 1937 in Adana, Turkey, Yılmaz Güney grew up in an impoverished area, surrounded by the working-class labourers. He turned to filmmaking at the age of 21, and after having studied law and economics in university, he worked his way up from screenwriting and assisting other directors to become the most popular actor in Yeşilçam, the Turkish version of Hollywood. Appearing in over 20 movies a year, Turkey fell in love with Güney, entitling him ‘Çirkin Kral’, or “Ugly King” because of his tendency to play rougher, brooding, and more rugged leading roles.

As political and social unrest gripped Turkey in the 1960s, Güney started his own production company—Güney Filmcilik—and became a prolific film director, with over 24 titles in his name. His movies tended to reflect the more realistic and less glamourous aspects of Kurdish life, particularly aggravated from the current state of civil unrest, and was no doubt influenced by his experiences growing up; his fascination with imprisonment was also influenced by the 18 months he spent in jail after publishing what was deemed a “communist” novel in 1961.

Prison became a bigger part of his life after he was arrested for harboring anarchist students in 1972, mid-way through filming 'Zavallilar', and many of his films had to be completed by his closest friends and co-directors while he sent them scripts from prison. Even though he was released in 1974, he was immediately incarcerated again after shooting a judge. However, he managed to escape from prison in 1981, and fled to France.

His films became more widely-known in the Western world after his film 'Yol' won a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982. His discovery by Western and European audiences allowed his name to remain attached to Turkish cinema, as at that point, the Turkish authorities had essentially outlawed Güney for his various political and social crimes, as well as the critical tone he took towards the way Turkey was run, and any of his writings or films were removed or destroyed.

After completing his final film in 1983, he died of stomach cancer in 1984 in Paris, France. He was 47 years old.

Yılmaz Güney & Serif Gören  •  Turkey  •  1982  •  114 min
Thursday, February 16, 2012, 7:00 pm, Auditorium, 395 Wellington St.
English subtitles
Yılmaz Güney  •  Turkey  •  1970  •  100 min
Friday, February 17, 2012, 7:00 pm, Auditorium, 395 Wellington St.
English subtitles
Yılmaz Güney & Atif Yılmaz  •  Turkey  •  1975  •  72 min
Friday, February 17, 2012, 9:00 pm, Auditorium, 395 Wellington St.
English subtitles