Yol is one of the best Turkish – and Kurdish – films of all time. Produced in the aftermath of the military coup in Turkey in 1980, it is written by Yilmaz Güney, known for his Kurdish political activism and therefore imprisoned. The screenplay he wrote in prison was smuggled into his cell and realised into a film by his former assistant Serif Gören. After Güney escaped from prison, he finished the film, which ended up winning the Palme D’Or in Cannes in 1983.

The film follows five prisoners as they are out on a weekend of leave. “But the freedom outside is not what they had hoped it would be”, explains Hisham Zaman, a Norwegian-Kurdish director, in his introduction to the film’s screening at Films from the South in 2006. Writes Zaman: “Yol is considered one of Güney’s best films. To me, it is not only an extraordinary humanistic and political achievement, but also a deeply personal film of superior artistic quality. It portrays a Turkish society ridden by human rights violations and brutal repression of the Kurdish minority. Its cinematography is beautiful, and its symbolism is subtle.”

Yilmaz Güney (1937–1984) was a Kurdish filmmaker, novelist and actor. Many of his films deal with the plight of the working class in Turkey. Güney died from cancer one year after receiving the Palme D’Or for Yol. Serif Gören (b. 1944) is a Turkish filmmaker, born in Greece. He was long the assistant of Güney, and has directed more than 30 films in his own right.

Original title Yol

Year 1982

Director Serif Gören, Yilmaz Güney

Screenplay Yilmaz Güney

Cinematography Erdogan Engin

Producer Edi Hubschmid, Donat Keusch

Cast Tarik Akan, Serif Sezer, Halil Ergün, Meral Orhonsay,

Production Company Güney Film, Cactus Film, France 2, SRG

Runtime 1h 54m

Format 35mm

Age limit 15