Posted by Jeff Stafford on November 17, 2006
On a recent trip to Istanbul, amid the expected sightseeing at the historical treasures (Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque), I wanted to experience a movie with a Turkish audience and chose to see a film – any film – at the majestic Emek Theatre which hosts the Istanbul International Film Festival every year in April. I was hoping that “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” would be playing but instead it was “Babel,” the new angst-ridden, infernally convoluted human tragedy from the creative team of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga who are currently embroiled in an ugly credit war over the movie. But enough about them. The Emek is worth a visit, regardless of what is playing. Located on Yesilcam Sokak, a quiet side street off the busy Istiklal Caddesi, The Emek was build sometime in the 1920s and despite a renovation in 1993 has retained its beautiful original design, including a rococo-style ceiling, a spacious balcony section and a sprawling downstairs orchestra area.
When you buy a ticket, you get an assigned seat – no, you don’t get to chose except to request either downstairs or balcony. Then you are escorted to your seat by a middle aged or older usher. This must be the only place besides the Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles that still has ushers. If you don’t like your seat, tough. Actually, you can move after the movie starts if you see any vacant seats you like but it’s best to wait at least 10-15 minutes because patrons keep drifting in right up until showtime. First comes a lot of trailers. My favorite was a new Turkish sci-fi film that looks almost as nutty and as low budget as the Turkish version of “Star Wars.” Then comes a bunch of commercials which are closer to comedy sketches than what we get in the States. And finally the main feature begins. It was refreshing to note that hardly anyone in the theatre was using a cell phone or text messaging during the film but maybe I just hit it on a day when everyone was more interested in watching Brad Pitt cry. Suddenly in the middle of the movie, the projectionist stopped the film, the lights came up and a beautiful gold brocade curtain which hadn’t appeared before came down over the screen. Intermission time.
This lasted for about 12 minutes as audience members retired to the lobby to chain smoke or sample some of the snackbar specialities. Popcorn is indeed served in Turkish cinemas but so are Coca-Cola favored gummy bears and nut-studded pastries. Then it was back for the misery-drenched conclusion of “Babel” but whenever my attention started to wonder I would stare at the opulent surroundings I was in. They don’t make grand movie palaces like this anymore. In fact, they usually tear them down because they only host one screen and are not profitable. The Emek’s days may be numbered too since it faces a huge development-in-the-works and it’s said that the block that houses the Emek, where several Turkish movie companies once prospered (now gone) during the peak of the Turkish film industry in 1970, has been approved for redevelopment as well. It will be terrible shame if this cultural treasure gets destroyed by progress so if you visit Istanbul anytime soon, check this place out if you want to have a memorable movie experience or just hide out from the rug hawkers in Sultanahmet. For more information about the Turkish film industry, check out this link
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art in Movies Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Blu-Ray Books on Film British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller TCM Classic Film Festival Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies