Chinese movies attract Turkish audience in Istanbul

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When Mesut Adlin arrived in the movie theater in central Istanbul for an early screening of a Chinese movie to avoid the crowd, he was quite surprised by the long ticket queue.

Half an hour later, Adlin was seated in the theater of the Istanbul Modern Cinema with other movie enthusiasts for Chinese director Lou Ye's 2019 movie Saturday Fiction, which tells the story of a spy.

The movie theater launched on Thursday a 10-day-long event to screen eight Chinese movies, all box-office hits.

"The films explore current socioeconomic transformations in Chinese society and culture through different subjects and characters," Belkis Elgin Akyildiz, director of the Istanbul Modern Cinema, told Xinhua.

"They also reflect Chinese cinema's expansion to include new genres as it occupies an ever-growing place in world cinema," she said in the foyer area while getting information about the ticket sales.

Despite the pandemic conditions that compel people to shun indoor activities, the event dubbed "Set in China" gripped the attention of the Turkish audience from the very first day.

"Saturday Fiction, the first movie of the show, filled the room capacity today," Akyildiz said.

When the screening was over, Adlin left the hall with a pleasant smile on his face.

"I haven't thought I would love Chinese movies that much," he told.

Adlin's interest in Chinese movies started about half a year ago when he was lured by the charms of several Far Eastern movies.

"I had thought that Chinese people and their culture were far from us and different. But as I watched more and more movies, I realized how similar we are, and we are not different," he added.

Adlin was significantly impressed by Diao Yinan's movie "The Wild Goose Lake" when he previously watched it during its nomination for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

"The characters speak little, but you can easily understand and feel what the movie is about, from the beginning to the end, in a sensible way," he noted.

Melih Alnan, a retired Istanbul resident, was waiting for The Wild Goose Lake's showtime at the foyer.

Alnan told Xinhua that he is currently reading a book about China, and he was informed about the show when his friend called him and said "Chinese movies are in town."

"I am very curious. I have never watched a Chinese movie until today. I want to see how China is related to my book," he said.

For Akyildiz, cinema has the power to initiate interactions between societies as movies could take the audience to another culture for two hours, presenting some detailed aspects of it.

"Movies can also strengthen the existing ties between two cultures," she noted, saying in that sense the Chinese films open a door for the Turkish audience to China.

Akyildiz said that this program, organized for the second time, will continue in the coming years.

"Next time, maybe we can bring more classic Chinese movies," she said. 

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