Where to watch foreign films in Istanbul

Where to watch foreign films in Istanbul

Minji Lee
January 15, 2018

There is a nostalgic warmth that comes from viewing foreign films in smaller spaces. If you are a film-lover who enjoys being transported to different countries and decades, Istanbul has alternative movie-going options for you. 

French films

The French Cultural Center, an educational resource for all those interested in learning about French language, arts, and culture, hosts cultural events, film screenings included. On January 26, 2018, it is showing Des femmes et des hommes (Women and Men) by Frédérique Bedos, a documentary about women’s rights in the present world, at 7:15pm. On the same day, Tous au Larzac (Leadersheep) by Christian Rouaud, a movie about farmers that unite to protest the government’s takeover of their land, will be showing at 8:30pm. Both movies are in French, subtitled in Turkish. Best of all, they’re free!

Sahne Pulchérie is the performance venue of Sainte Pulchérie Lycee Français, a high school in Beyoğlu, that also holds French film screenings on a regular basis.

Italian films

In January 2018, Akbank Sanat and the Italian Cultural Center host free Italian film screenings every Tuesday of the month at 7pm. Viewers can see different perspectives of Italy through the eyes of its characters, such as children, a father and son, unexpected lovers, and even a dog. Guests can pick up their complimentary tickets at Akbank Sanat one hour before the screening begins. 

“Foreigners of the Oscars” at Istanbul Modern Cinema

Istanbul Modern Cinema regularly shows independent films, many of which are international. From January 11-28, it will be showing a series of films nominated for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category at the 90th Oscar Awards Ceremony. A few mention-worthy films are Zama, a film adaptation of author Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel about 18th-century Spanish colony in Buenos Aires, The Square, a Swedish satire on the contemporary art world, and Happy End, a German movie about a Calais family that lives in close proximity to the refugee camps just a few kilometers from their home.

For student cinephiles

Boğaziçi University’s Mithat Alam Film Center holds free film screenings and educational workshops for all university students in Turkey who are interested in cinema. Its Sinefil Impressions program shows a different film, with a diverse selection ranging from Turkish classic movies to actor retrospectives, every day of the academic year at 6pm. 

Turkish films

The TÜRVAK Cinema-Theater Museum has eight rooms dedicated to nostalgic relics from Turkish cinema. Visitors can watch Turkish classic films in the Ali Efendi Cinema Salon, a cozy viewing room with 82 seats. Before or after the screenings, one can stroll through the museum rooms to view Turkish cinema memorabilia, such as the first film projectors in Turkey used in 1904, the camera used in Muhsin Ertuğrul's famous film, Istanbul Streets, and wax sculptures of famous Turkish actors such as Kemal Sunal, Ayhan Işık, Feridun Karakaya, Sadri Alışık and Belgin Doruk.