Nuri Bilge Ceylan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Born (1959-01-26) 26 January 1959 (age 64)
Alma materBoğaziçi University
Mimar Sinan University
Occupation(s)Film director, photographer
Years active1995–present
Spouse(s)Aylin Ünaldı Ceylan
Ebru Ceylan
RelativesMehmet Emin Toprak (cousin)
AwardsFull list

Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkish: [ˈnuːɾi ˈbilɟe ˈdʒejlan]; born 26 January 1959) is a Turkish director, screenwriter, photographer and actor. His film Winter Sleep (2014) won the Palme d'Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, while six of his films have been selected as Turkey's submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Early life and education[edit]

Ceylan was born in Bakırköy, Istanbul, Turkey on 26 January 1959, to Mehmet Emin Ceylan, an agricultural engineer, and Fatma Ceylan. Ceylan spent most of his childhood in his father's hometown of Yenice, Çanakkale. He completed his primary education in Yenice before finishing high school in Istanbul. In 1976, Ceylan started studying chemistry at Istanbul Technical University; in 1978, he transferred to Boğaziçi University in order to study electrical engineering.[1]

During his time at Boğaziçi University, Ceylan began to receive recognition for his work as a photographer; in 1982, he was featured in an article in the arts and culture magazine Milliyet Sanat on young Turkish photographers. During the 1980s, photographs by Ceylan were featured in magazines including Gergedan; in 1989, he won a national competition to represent Turkey at an international event organised by Kodak, and took part in shoots in London and Kathmandu. After returning to Turkey, he completed military service in Mamak, Ankara.[2][3] After completing his military service, Ceylan studied film at Mimar Sinan University.



In 1993, he acted in Mehmet Eryılmaz's short film Seviyorum Ergo Sum, where he also helped with the film's production. After the production of Seviyorum Ergo Sum, Ceylan bought the camera used to film it and subsequently used it in the production of his own short film, Koza (English: "cocoon"). The film, which Ceylan directed, wrote, and produced, became the first Turkish short film to be screened at the 48th Cannes Film Festival in 1995.[4]

In 1997, Ceylan's first feature film Kasaba screened at various international film festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival. The film, which has been called the first in Ceylan's "provincial trilogy" (Turkish: "taşra üçlemesi") of films (alongside Mayıs Sıkıntısı and Uzak) has been considered a sequel to Koza, with Ceylan doing much of the production roles, including screenwriting and cinematography in addition to directing; it also features a cast consisting primarily of his family members.[5]

Ceylan's next film Mayıs Sıkıntısı (1999) screened in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival, while Uzak (2003) competed for the Palme d'Or at the 56th Cannes Film Festival; it ultimately won the Grand Prix, while its stars Muzaffer Özdemir and Mehmet Emin Toprak (who died shortly after the film's production) were jointly awarded the Best Actor prize. Ceylan subsequently published a novelisation of Uzak in 2004.[6]

Climates (2006) marked Ceylan's first film in which he did not act as cinematographer, with it instead being his first collaboration with Gökhan Tiryaki. Ceylan also did not at as producer, with the film being produced by Zeynep Özbatur Ataken. Ceylan appeared in a leading role in Climates alongside his wife, Ebru Ceylan. The film premiered in competition at the 59th Cannes Film Festival.[7]


Ceylan's 2008 film Three Monkeys marked his first time working with professional actors. He was awarded the Best Director prize at the 61st Cannes Film Festival, and the film was shortlisted for Best International Feature Film at the 81st Academy Awards, although was not ultimately nominated.[8][9] Ceylan served as a member of the jury at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in 2009. In 2011, his film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia won the Grand Prix at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, alongside The Kid with a Bike.[10] Critic Roger Ebert praised the director writing, "The Turkish director doesn't slap us with big dramatic moments, but allows us to live along with his characters as things occur to them."[11]

His next film, Winter Sleep (2014) premiered at the 67th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or, becoming the first Turkish film to win the award since Yol in 1982.[12] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described the film as "chilly but touching" adding, "[it's] a huge, sombre and compelling tragicomedy set in Turkey's vast Anatolian steppe".[13] His film The Wild Pear Tree (2018) competed at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.[14] The film is a character study involving a writer who returns to his hometown after graduating, where he seeks sponsors to publish his book while dealing with his father's deteriorating indulgence into gambling. Pat Brown of Slant Magazine praised it as a "rich, textured film, [which] is ostensibly about patrimony—namely, what sons inherit from and owe to their fathers. In many ways it’s a coming-of-age story, featuring a protagonist whose immature callousness gradually gives way to a more mature openness to his family."[15]

Ceylan's film About Dry Grasses competed for the Palme d'Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Merve Dizdar won the Best Actress award for her performance in the film.[16] The film involves a young teacher hoping to be appointed to Istanbul after mandatory duty at a small village. Siddhant Adlakha of IndieWire wrote of the film, " Your mileage may vary, but “About Dry Grasses” is among the most brilliantly off-putting works to be featured at Cannes in recent years, with so rotten a core that every hint of virtue or even normalcy in the camera’s peripheral vision becomes a tragedy unto itself, simply by way of being ignored."[17]

Styles and themes[edit]

Recurring themes in Ceylan's films include estrangement, existentialism, monotony, and the human experience. He often features static shots and long takes, usually in natural settings and without the use of staged sets. Ceylan's use of sound includes using silence to cause unease. He has been noted for filming his protagonists from behind, which he has stated is in order to leave the audience speculating on their motives and emotions. Ceylan's earlier films were made on low budgets with casts consisting primarily of amateur actors, often family members and neighbours of Ceylan himself.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Ceylan is married to filmmaker, photographer and actress Ebru Ceylan, with whom he co-starred in Climates. Ceylan's cousin Mehmet Emin Toprak featured in three of his films, most notably Uzak; he died in 2002 following a car crash in Çan.[19]

In Sight and Sound's 2012 poll of the world's greatest films, Ceylan named his ten favourite films as being Andrei Rublev (1966), Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), L'Avventura (1960), L'Eclisse (1962), Late Spring (1949), A Man Escaped (1956), The Mirror (1975), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), Shame (1968), and Tokyo Story (1953).[20]


Year Title Original title Director Producer Writer Notes
1995 Cocoon Koza Yes Yes Yes Short film
1997 The Small Town Kasaba Yes Yes Yes Feature debut
1999 Clouds of May Mayıs Sıkıntısı Yes Yes Yes
2002 Distant Uzak Yes Yes Yes
2006 Climates İklimler Yes Yes Yes Also actor
2008 Three Monkeys Üç Maymun Yes Yes Yes
2011 Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da Yes Yes Yes
2014 Winter Sleep Kış Uykusu Yes Yes Yes
2018 The Wild Pear Tree Ahlat Ağacı Yes Yes Yes
2023 About Dry Grasses Kuru Otlar Üstüne Yes Yes Yes



  1. ^ "Ürkek Ceylan Oscar yolunda". Aksiyon (in Turkish). 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  2. ^ Asam, Kenti (25 May 1989). "Kodak yarışması cumhuriyet". Cumhuriyet (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  3. ^ Öğünç, Pınar (May–June 2003). ""Kasaba"dan "uzak"lara". Turkish Time (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 27 August 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Nuri Bilge Ceylan kimdir? (Nuri Bilge Ceylan'ın filmleri ve ödülleri)". NTV (in Turkish). 15 July 2020. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  5. ^ "Nuri Bilge Ceylan Sineması ve Taşra Üçlemesi". MozartCultures (in Turkish). 28 December 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  6. ^ "Nuri Bilge Ceylan". Türk Edebiyat İsimler Sözlügü (in Turkish). 19 September 2020. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Climates". Reverse Shot. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  8. ^ "Cannes'da En İyi Yönetmen ödülü Ceylan'ın". NTV (in Turkish). 25 May 2008. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  9. ^ Çulhaoğlu, Metin (31 May 2008). "'Yalnız ve güzel'". Günlük Siyasi Gazete (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 18 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  10. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (29 February 2012). "Yoghurt and murder with Nuri Bilge Ceylan". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia". Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  12. ^ Barber, Nicholas (24 May 2014). "Cannes review: Winter Sleep is the Palme d'Or winner". BBC News. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  13. ^ "Winter Sleep review – sharply observed tragicomedy". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  14. ^ Kohn, Eric (19 May 2018). "'The Wild Pear Tree' Review: Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Funny, Touching Father-Son Bonding Tale Earns Its Three Hours — Cannes 2018". IndieWire. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  15. ^ "Review: The Wild Pear Tree Richly Weaves the Political and the Personal". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Turkey's Merve Dizdar wins best actress at Cannes for About Dry Grasses role". Duvar English. 27 May 2023. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  17. ^ "'About Dry Grasses' Review: Nuri Bilge Ceylan Returns with Another Masterclass in Conversational Cinema". IndieWire. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  18. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (6 May 2004). "Death in Yenice". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  19. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (6 May 2004). "Death in Yenice". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  20. ^ Nuri Bilge Ceylan | BFI | BFI. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  21. ^ "APSA Nominees & Winners".

External links[edit]