Ali Özgentürk – Mektup AKA The Letter (1997)


Ragip is a nuclear engineer who settled in the US with his mother when he was very young. After many years, he comes to Turkey to search for his father, which helps him to discover his country, but he would always remain a tourist. In the meanwhile, he begins an affair with her guide, who is a rock singer.

Ali Özgentürk is a renowned Turkish film director, screenwriter, and producer. He was born in 1945 in Adana, Turkey. After studying philosophy and sociology at the Istanbul University, he became involved in theater, as an actor, director, and playwright. During the time he was interested in theater, he also made short documentaries and feature films. For the first time in 1966, he made a film entitled as Ankara Yürüyüşü (Ankara Manifestation) which is the documentary of the march of university students from Istanbul to Ankara in order to protest the education law of that time. He founded Istanbul’s first street theater troupe in 1968.Then, he made his short film Ferhat (1972) which won the Best Short Film award at the Krakow Festival in Poland and then he made his film Yasak (Forbidden) by which he won the Grand Award of the Moscow Festival in 1974. He began working in the Turkish film industry in 1974 as a camera assistant, and eventually became an assistant and screenwriter for famous Turkish film directors such as Atif Yilmaz and Yilmaz Güney. In 1977, Özgentürk wrote the screenplay for director Atıf Yılmaz’s film Selvi Boylum, Al Yazmalım (The Girl with the Red Scarf), which would go on to become a major hit in Turkey. In 1979, Özgentürk directed his first feature, Hazal, which he co-wrote with Onat Kutlar. The film won awards at the Mannheim Film Festival, Prades Film Festival, and the Best New Director award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. Özgentürk followed it in 1982 with At (The Horse), which screened at the Cannes Film Festival and won major awards at the Valencia Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival, which awarded it the Ozu Award. His third feature, 1985’s Bekςi (The Guardian), an adaptation of Turkish novelist Orhan Kemal’s classic novel Murtaza, holds the distinction of being the first Turkish film to screen in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Özgentürk courted controversy with his fourth film, Su da Yanar (Water Also Burns, 1987), which concerned a director attempting to make a film about the life of controversial Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet. In 2000, Özgentürk directed Balalayka, which would go on to become a major box office hit in Turkey. He completed his film entitled as Kalbin Zamanı (The Time of Heart) on which he worked for four years in 2004.

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