Yılmaz Güney

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Yılmaz Güney
Yilmaz Guney Cannes.jpg
Yılmaz Güney in Cannes Film Festival for Palme d'Or of Yol.
Born Yılmaz Pütün
(1937-04-01)1 April 1937
Yenice, Karataş, Turkey
Died 9 September 1984(1984-09-09) (aged 47)
Paris, France
Nationality Turkish
Other names Çirkin Kral (Ugly King)
Occupation Film director
Screenwriter
Actor
Years active 19581983

Yılmaz Güney (born Yılmaz Pütün, 1 April 1937 – 9 September 1984) was a Kurdish film director, scenarist, novelist, and actor of Zaza Kurdish origin, who produced movies in Turkish.[1][2][3][4] He quickly rose to prominence in the Turkish Film Industry. Many of his works were devoted to the plight of the ordinary, working class people in Turkey. Yılmaz Güney won the Palme d'Or with the film Yol he co-produced with Şerif Gören at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982. At constant odds with the Turkish Government because of his portrayals of Kurdish culture, people and language in his movies, he fled the country and later lost his citizenship.

Background[edit]

Yılmaz Güney was born in 1937 in the Yenice county of Adana. His father was a Zaza Kurd from Siverek and his mother was a Kurd from Varto.[1][4] His parents migrated to Adana to work as cotton field laborers. As a result of his family background, young Yılmaz grew among the working class. This was a strong background for his future works which generally focused on a realistic portrayal of downtrodden and marginalized strata of the population in the country. Güney studied law and economics at the universities of Ankara and Istanbul, but by the age of 21 he found himself actively involved in film-making.

Career in Turkey[edit]

As Yeşilçam, the Turkish studio system, a handful of directors, including Atıf Yılmaz, began to use cinema as a means of addressing the problems of the people. State-sanctioned melodramas, war films, and play adaptations had mostly previously been played in Turkish theaters. These new filmmakers began to shoot and screen more realistic pictures of Turkish/Kurdish life. Yılmaz Güney was one of the most popular names to emerge from this trend, a gruff-looking young actor who earned the moniker Çirkin Kral ("the Ugly King" in Turkish) or "paşay naşirîn" in Kurdish. After working as an apprentice screenwriter for and assistant to Atıf Yılmaz, Güney soon began appearing in as many as 20 films a year and became Turkey's one of the most popular actors.

The early 1960s brought restricted freedom to Turkey, and Güney was imprisoned from 1960 to 1962. In prison he wrote what some labeled a "communist" novel, They Died with Their Heads Bowed.[5] The country's political situation and Güney's relationship with the authorities became even more tense in the ensuing years. Not content with his star status atop the Turkish film industry, Güney began directing his own pictures in 1965. By 1968 he had formed his own production company, Güney Filmcilik. Over the next few years, the titles of his films mirrored the feelings of the people of Turkey: Umut (Hope, 1970); Ağıt (Elegy, 1972); Acı (Pain, 1971); The Hopeless (1971). Umut is considered to be the first realistic film of Turkish Cinema, the American director Elia Kazan was among the fist to praise the film; “Umut is a poetic film, completely native, not an imitation of Hollywood or any of the European masters, it had risen out of a village environment”.[6]

After 1972, however, Güney would spend most of his life in prison. Arrested for harboring anarchist students, Güney was jailed during preproduction of Zavallılar (The Miserable, 1975), and before completing Endişe (Worry, 1974), which was finished in 1974 by Güney's assistant, Şerif Gören. This was a role that Gören would repeat over the next dozen years, directing several scripts that Güney wrote in prison.

Released from prison in 1974 as part of a general amnesty, Güney was re-arrested that same year for shooting Sefa Mutlu, the public prosecutor of Yumurtalık district in Adana Province, to death in a night club as a result of a drunken row[7] and given a prison sentence of 19 years. During this stretch of incarceration, his most successful screenplays were Sürü (The Herd, 1978) and Düşman (The Enemy, 1979), both directed by Zeki Ökten. Düşman won an Honourable Mention at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival in 1980.[8]

Güney's first marriage was with fellow Turkish actress, Nebahat Çehre, who co-starred alongside Güney in more than several films. Their relationship began in 1964 and they married in 1967. Prior to his marriage, Güney fathered a daughter, Elif Güney Pütün, from his relationship with Birsen Can Ünal.

Despite Güney and Nebahat Çehre's divorce in 1968, many of those closest to Güney have always regarded Çehre to have been the love of his life.

Later, Güney married Jale Fatma Süleymangil, more commonly known as Fatoş Güney, in 1970. Together, they had a son, Remzi Yılmaz Pütün.

Exile and death[edit]

Grave of Yılmaz Güney at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

In September 1980, Güney's works were banned by the new military junta. Güney declared, “There are only two possibilities: to fight or to give up, I chose to fight”.[9] After escaping from prison in 1981 and fleeing to France, Güney won the Palme d'Or at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival for his film Yol, whose director in the field was once again Şerif Gören. It was not until 1983 that Güney resumed directing, telling a brutal tale of imprisoned children in his final film, Duvar (The Wall, 1983), made in France with the cooperation of the French government. Meanwhile, Turkey's government revoked his citizenship and a court sentenced him to twenty-two extra years in jail.[5]

Yılmaz Güney died of gastric cancer in 1984, in Paris, France.[5]

Filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Director[edit]

Biography[edit]

A biography of Güney, Halkın Sanatçısı, Halkın Savaşçısı: Yılmaz Güney, was published by Dönüşüm Publishing in 1992, and reprinted in 2000. Its publisher was fined in 2001 because of some of the book's content, although this was overturned in 2003 when the relevant law was repealed.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Suad Joseph, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Family, law, and politics, Brill, 2005, ISBN 978-90-04-12818-7, id=4Uyypm6T7ZsC&pg=PA361&dq=%22Y%C4%B1lmaz+G%C3%BCney%22++Marxist+director&hl=tr&ei=W8PATNjXJYaWvAO6sKyqCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA#v=snippet&q=Marxist%20director&f=false p. 361.
  2. ^ Joost Jongerden, The settlement issue in Turkey and the Kurds: an analysis of spatial policies, modernity and war, Brill, 2007, ISBN 978-90-04-15557-2, p. 31.
  3. ^ Pope, Hugh and Nicole Pope, Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey, (Overlook TP, 2000), 254.
  4. ^ a b "Ben Fransız vatandaşı oldum o olmadı" (interview with Güney's widow). Hürriyet / 05.03.2000
  5. ^ a b c New York Times, 10 September 1984, Yilmaz Guney Is Dead;Turkish Film Director
  6. ^ https://themovingsilent.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/yilmaz-guney-the-ugly-king/
  7. ^ Turkish Daily Hürriyet Account of the eye witness Mehmet Uyulhas
  8. ^ "Berlinale 1980: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  9. ^ https://themovingsilent.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/kurdish-cinema-yol-yilmaz-guney-1982/
  10. ^ ECHR, 10 May 2007, Üstün v. Turkey, Application no. 37685/02

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Ekrem Bora
Golden Orange Award
for Best Actor

1967
for Hudutların Kanunu
Succeeded by
Fikret Hakan
Preceded by
newly established
Golden Boll Award
for Best Actor

1969
for Seyyit Han

1970
for Umut
1971
for Ağıt

Succeeded by
Kadir İnanır
Preceded by
Safa Önal
Golden Boll Award
for Best Screenplay

1970
for Umut

1971
for Ağıt

Succeeded by
not awarded
Preceded by
Cüneyt Arkın
Golden Orange Award
for Best Actor

1970
for Bir Çirkin Adam
Succeeded by
Fikret Hakan
Preceded by
Bilge Olgaç
Golden Boll Award
for Best Director

1971
for Ağıt
Succeeded by
Ertem Eğilmez
Preceded by
Sadık Şendil
Golden Orange Award
for Best Screenplay

1975
for Endişe
Succeeded by
Umur Bugay