Beginning in 1908, cinema halls began to be opened by foreigners and individuals from the minorities living mainly in İstanbul. But in March 1914, two Turks, Cevat Boyer and Murat Bey, opened a cinema hall.
The first Turkish film was a documentary, “Ayastefanos’taki Rus Abidesinin Yıkılışı” (The Demolition of the Russian Monument at St. Stephen), made by reserve army officer Fuat Uzkınay at the beginning of World War I, and sponsored by the Turkish Army.
This film was succeeded by a number of films made by official or semi-official organizations. One of these organizations, the official War Veterans’ Association, produced the feature films “Mürebbiye” (The Governess) and “Binnaz” based on the novels of Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar. These films, directed by Ahmet Fehim in 1919, were later censored by the occupying forces because they were very daring .
The War Veterans’ Association also produced a series of short films before it ceased producing films in 1921. These films, namely “Bican Efendi, Vekilharç” (Bican Efendi, the Secretary), “Bican Efendi, Mektep Hocası” (Bican Efendi, the Schoolmaster) and “Bican Efendi’nin Rüyası” (The Dream of Bican Efendi) directed by a then famous comedian, Şadi Fikret Karagözoğlu, who also played the leading roles, created the first comic character in Turkish cinema.
A new era in Turkish cinema started in 1922 when theater artist Muhsin Ertuğrul returned home from Germany where he had worked as an actor and director since 1916. His return in 1922 was also the time when the first Turkish private film company, “Kemal Film” was set-up. A film based on the novel of Halide Edip Adıvar, “Ateşten Gömlek” (The Ordeal) in which the first Turkish Muslim women actresses, namely Bedia Muhavvit and Neyyire Neyir acted in the leading roles, was the first movie to deal with the War of Independence. This film was first screened in İstanbul which was still occupied by foreign armies, on April 23, 1923, the third anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, and only six months prior to the formation of the Turkish Republic.