In early December, we received confirmation that Cagatay has been offered the lead role in the 2 season X 10-episode per season BluTV production "Yesilcam", to be produced by ES Films. This is the same production company that was leading the Barbaros project Cagatay was to take part in earlier in the year but eventually didn't.
Yesilcam (The Green Pine), is to Turkey what Hollywood is to the United States, or Bollywood to India. Supported by state subsidies between the 1950s to the 1980s, an indigenous film industry began to take shape around the Yesilcam Street in Beyoglu, Istanbul. With a rapid increase in filmmakers, cinema ceased to be an elitist activity and spread as a mode of entertainment even in the most remote villages in Anatolia.
The period marks an important time in Turkey's cinematic history, with incredible creativity in local productions, with its heydays in the 1960s, producing 200 - 300 films per year, with primary focus on dramas and comedy. In 1966 Turkey was fourth, just behind India, in world film production, with 238 films.
Some of the most well-known movies during this time are Susuz Yaz (Dry Summer) which received a Golden Bear Award at Berlin Film Festival in 1964; Sevmek Zamanı (Time to Love); Gurbet Kuşları (Birds of Exile); Haremde Dört Kadın (Four Women in the Harem); Yılanların Öcü (The Revenge of the Snakes); Vesikalı Yarim (My Prostitute Love); Ah Güzel İstanbul (Beautiful Istanbul); and Turist Ömer (Ömer the Tourist). A film festival, which soon became the Oscars of Turkish cinema, started in 1964 to promote Turkish cinema and help gain international recognition. (www,theguideistanbul.com)
Many of these movies were "moralistic melodramas focusing on the theme of modernization and the relationships between heterosexual couples from different social and economic classes, which affirmed traditional gender roles and social values against "degenerate" modern lifestyles" (filmreference.com). It is also a time when political films thrived as the 1960 coup allowed leftists to express themselves more freely. Films during this period also touched on the problems of workers and laborers who were facing challenges posed by industrialization, rural-urban migration, and poverty.
You can check out this video on the movie Susuz Yaz to better understand the kinds of stories told during that time. The YouTube Channel Green Pine Film has more to explore.
70s - 80s
The 70s saw a shift into the fantasy genre when lack of copyright laws and lack of state support gave way to a spate of unauthorized low-budget films that were remakes of all sorts of iconic movies out of Hollywood, including science fiction such as Star Wars, Star Trek, E.T. and more. With shifts towards TV consumption, the film industry died out in the 80s, but the Yesilcam movies are well loved and are still referenced in current dizis and movies.
Earlier dismissed as poor filmmaking, the Yesilcam era has since been an area of serious scholarly study, particularly in the context of cultural globalization and creative innovation in filmmaking. This video interview by the Yunus Emre Institute provides an interesting look into the filmmaking from this period.
CEO of BluTV, A. Dogan Yalcindag, had mentioned this project in an April press meeting, with the title Yesilcam: Bir Sinema Hayvani (Yesilcam: A Movie Beast) and he explained that the show will go to the 1960s and portray that magical period by focusing on the life of a filmmaker, Semih Ateş, who says “I make a movie, patients get better, the season changes”. He also announced that the scriptwriting phase of the first season was already completed. A recent social media post also confirms this with "...a story of rebirth during the Yesilcam golden age".
In an interview with egirism on February 6, Yalcindag mentioned that Yesilcim will drop on the platform in April.
Cagatay, the first of the cast members confirmed, will play the role of filmmaker Semih Ates, who is a down and out producer of the Yesilcam era of the 1960s. The story follows his journey of reinventing himself as he finds love. One of his supposed spoken dialogue is, "Sen benim dualarımın arasında ki en güzel dileğimsin Tülin..." -- “You are my best wish among my prayers, Tulin”.
Other cast mates, as they are announced are:
Click on their pictures below to see a more detailed bio for each. Selin Kahraman does not have a profile on IMDB yet.
The film is planned to be one of BluTV's biggest in-house productions. The scenarists Volkan Sumbul (Icerde) and Levent Cantek (Bozkir on BluTV), had shared their first thoughts after the completed script had been turned in.
Yesilcam is directed by Cagan Irmak (Babam Ve Oglum). It promises to provide an incredible insight into Turkish filmmaking and perhaps shed light on how it has shaped cinematic production and consumption in the modern era, while seen through the lens of the protagonist and fictitious filmmaker, Semih Ates. It is written as a drama and NOT an autobiography of known personalities from that time.
Recently, industry insider Oya Dogan, founder of www.dizidoktoru.com answered some questions about the project on Instagram live, and she said that the project will start filming on January 10, 2021. We have also learnt that the cast started reading rehearsals from December 30, 2020. Here is a translated version of the short interview with Ms. Dogan.
On January 11, the fans got some first glimpses of photoshoots of actors in costume. We saw pictures of Nurcan Sirin and Efe Tuncar, where Nurcan was definitely wearing a period piece.
On January 15th, the fans got the first glimpse into the set design through a short clip uploaded by the director, accompanied by a sample of the possible soundtrack or genre of music to be used. It seems colorful and a little whimsical. In addition, we also got a few first pictures from sets, one even shared by Cagatay via his Instagram story.
The following photo was shared by Engin Aykanat (Cagatay's manager), leading to confusion about the producers who were previously listed at ES Films. As it turns out, ES Films and Eastern Sunrise Films are both owned by Yusuf Esenkal, and Eastern Sunrise Films just happens to be the Los Angeles based entity. It's still the original team but perhaps a US entity being listed as producer increases opportunities for international distribution once the show has been broadcast.
From the photos and clips shared so far, we get the sense of a very clever script which will probably invite a deeper understanding of the dialogue and skits, which at first glance will seem a lot simpler than it is. That is the value of an excellent work of Art - a depth of meaning lies beneath the surface.
For a compilation of all the BTS photos and clips shared until February 10, 2021, check out this short video.
We already know from earlier reports that Cagatay has also been roped in for the lead role in Amazon Prime's Museum of Innocence, an adaptation of the eponymous book by Nobel prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. Musuem of Innocence is also set in the cultural backdrop of Istanbul in the 1970s, which may indicate the importance of the overall period, marked by political upheaval, economic and social change, that greatly influenced the arts in the then secular Turkey.
There are some suggestions that Cagatay's look from his birthday photo is in preparation for this project, but we await final confirmation of this detail.
Fans are beyond excited to see Cagatay back on the screens again, and we remain as excited about all the ways Cagatay continues to grow as an actor. For a first look at the teaser released on February 12, go to our blog post here.
Article Copyright (c) CUNA
Updated February 15, 2021
Articles referenced for the information:
An Offer for Cagatay Ulusoy
Yesilcam, The Wild Lo-Fi World of Turkish B Movies
Yesilcam Green Pine Cinema
100 Years of Turkish Cinema
Levent Cantek Blog