Interpreting the Motherland within the framework of changing positionalities and context: film reception practices of the Turkish people living in London

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Akbulut H.

HoMER Conference 2022 – Across Borders: Audiences, Exhibition And Reception, Rome, Italy, 5 July - 08 December 2022, pp.2-17

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Rome
  • Country: Italy
  • Page Numbers: pp.2-17
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


This study focuses on the reception practices of the Turkish-speaking community in London regarding the film Motherland (Ana Yurdu, 2015), directed by Senem Tüzen. Ana Yurdu, which won awards at many festivals and was praised by critics, is about a young woman's conflict with her conservative mother and oppressive society. The film shares the characteristics of Turkish art films with its story about intellectual characters who have returned to the countryside and faced themselves and their past, and for its minimalist genre. The film, which refers with its title to the motherland, mother's home, offers a look at the themes of homeland, home, belonging, and identity from a crossroads where different subject positions intersect as well. This film, which is open to multiple readings, was screened to the Turkish community in the scope of the 21st London Turkish Film Festival held online in 2016. In this study, which was prepared based on the fieldwork conducted in London between 2019-2020 as a part of transnational film reception research, in-depth interviews were conducted with four participants who watched the film Ana Yurdu, and the interview data was analysed through interpretive phenomenological analysis. The analyses indicated that the story of the film, which tells about the oppressions on women in a conservative society was evaluated as a “realistic representation” by the interviewees, but art films are perceived as “boring”; although the interviewees' unstable heterogeneous conceptions of identity (being a Turkish, British or even a world citizen) and ideological views (being leftist) were effective in reception, fundamentally their gender identities and the legal processes regulating their residence in England were determinative, and these factors led to different readings. In addition, it has been observed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Brexit process are in charge of shaping reception as contextual factors.