Antalya: Turkish Film Production on the Rise, but Distribution Still a Challenge

Christopher Vourlias
Variety

ANTALYA, Turkey — While a growing number of Turkish filmmakers are making waves overseas, racking up recent awards in Venice and Cannes, a more encouraging sign for local bizzers might be back home, where the number of productions has climbed steadily in the past decade.

According to Antrakt, an independent film market research company, the number of Turkish productions has jumped from roughly 40 in 2007 to a record-breaking 134 last year.

Turkish films are a force at the box office, too, with local pics accounting for 57% of ticket sales in 2015. Seven of the top 10 highest-grossing films last year were homegrown, and four of the top five spots so far this year belong to local filmmakers.

Still, Antalya fest director Elif Dağdeviren (pictured) considers those films outliers, pointing to a study published earlier this year which found that more than 100 local productions shot in 2015 failed to find distributors.

“At the moment…we don’t have a real independent film industry,” laments Dağdeviren who is also a producer.

In response, Dağdeviren has spearheaded the Film Talent Marketing Rounds (FILM TMR), or Film Tomorrow, a new initiative which runs Oct. 16-23, offering Turkish filmmakers a chance to meet in Antalya with a range of TV and online buyers, distributors, and festival programmers from Turkey and around the world.

“We’re giving the opportunity for [filmmakers] to market their films,” says Dağdeviren.

Organizers will provide attendees with screening rooms, meeting rooms, and a catalog of completed films ready to go to market. They’ll also facilitate one-on-one meetings between local filmmakers and potential buyers.

The initiative points to what Dağdeviren and others see as a stark need for Turkish helmers to more aggressively promote their films in a crowded marketplace.

“Producers have to start talking about [marketing] strategy not after the film is finished, but even in the scriptwriting process,” says Zeynep Atakan, the producer for 2015 Palme d’Or-winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan. “Because that’s the time to start building a strategy for the film.”

While Dağdeviren notes that a portion of the program will overlap with Mipcom this year, she’s optimistic that attendance will rise toward the end of the week, with foreign buyers drawn to Antalya as much for business as for the dressed-down vibe.

“Cannes is too crowded,” she says, laughing. “We can meet whoever we wish to meet. It’s very productive for everybody who comes here.”

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