Emin Alper

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Emin Alper (born 1974 in Karaman, Turkey) is a Turkish filmmaker[1] and historian. His directorial debut, Beyond the Hill won the Caligari Film Prize in the 62nd Berlinale[2] and Best Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.[3] His second feature Frenzy won the Special Jury Prize after premiering in competition at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.[4]


During his university years, Emin Alper was an active member of the cinema club, spending most of his time with friends thinking on and discussing about cinema. They would organize seminars with the prominent filmmakers of their time, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Zeki Demirkubuz. He began writing scripts and film reviews. Together with his friends, he published the film magazine “Görüntü.” It was during his university years that his lifelong love for cinema shaped, persuading him to pursue filmmaking as a career.

After graduating from Bogazici University with a degree in Economics, Alper furthered his Academic work, receiving his PhD in Modern Turkish History. Emin Alper subsequently began teaching at the Department of Social Science at Istanbul Technical University. He wrote on cinema and politics at several magazines including Tarih ve Toplum, Birikim, Mesele and Altyazı.


Gaining experience from watching other filmmakers and taking role in their short films, Emin Alper went on to make his first independent short films, The Letter in 2005, and Rıfat in 2006; the latter won Best Short Film at the Bucharest International Film Festival (2008) and the Special Audience Award at the !F Istanbul International Film Festival.

His breakthrough came in 2012, with his directorial debut, ''Beyond the Hill, “about the repressed violence and projections of a Turkish family on holiday."

Following his first feature, Alper made his second feature, Frenzy (2014), a psycho-social drama/thriller about a society“ brought to heel by its fear of terrorism” in which two brothers — one a paroled convict secretly recruited to ferret out terrorists by examining the contents of trash bins, the other hired to kill stray dogs — are sucked into a whirl of state-sponsored distrust. Frenzy was profoundly timely in its subject matter, loudly echoing the current turmoil of politics in Turkey and the Middle East. Alper says of Frenzy, ‘It shows how the political system turns “little men” into the cogs of its violent mechanism by providing them with authority and the instruments of violence, which in the end turn against them and lead to their destruction.’

Premiering in competition at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, Frenzy was awarded the Special Jury Prize. The film won the Jury Grand Prize at the 9th Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Both Beyond the Hill and Frenzy were chosen as the Best Turkish Film by the Turkish Critics' Association in 2012 and 2015.


At 18, Emin Alper was stirred upon watching Kustorica’s Time of the Gypsies, which made him, in his own words, “aware of the magic of cinema.” He is influenced by the works of Luchino Visconto, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael Haneke.

The storyline of Ahmet’s relation with the stray dog he adopts is inspired by Thomas Mann’s story A Man and His Dog.

Cinematic Style

Through his analytical background and deep insight to Turkish history, Alper has developed a unique approach and style in filmmaking, gaining him widespread local and international recognition. Both Beyond the Hill (2012) and Frenzy (2015) feature sociological parables; a marked interest of Alper’s.

In an interview at the Venice Film Festival, Alper defines his style as “paranoia and dream versus reality.” Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter mirrors the director’s cinematic signature, writing “Some of these might be subjective point-of-view shots, or dreams, nightmares or hallucinations…since the film’s real world isn’t as clearly defined, with Istanbul really seeming to be in the grip of increasing chaos and paranoia…” Besides blurring the lines between dream and reality, Alper plays with color and texture, creating a sense of psychic claustrophobia, made all the more tangible by the sound work of conceptual Turkish musician Cevdet Erek.


"I would like them to ask themselves the following: What kind of a community do we want to live in? Do we want to be a closed and idealized community that is blind to its internal conflicts and problems? Or do we want to be a community that is aware it’s not innocent, that does not see its internal conflicts as weak points and is a community that does not need enemies and scapegoats to build its unity. I hope I made a film that comes to their mind now and then, at least for a while after seeing it."

To IndieWire, on Beyond the Hill.

“I’m always critical to Turkish politics. The inspiration of the film came from the 90s actually, when the war between Kurdish militants and the Turkish state was at its highest point. I wrote and shot the film during the peaceful period of negotiations. After I finished the film, the war started again. It was an unfortunate coincidence for me, and the film became something more critical than I expected because I was expecting a more universal film, but suddenly it became really local, really topical.”

In an interview at Film Fest Munchen 2016.


  1. ^ "Emin Alper". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  2. ^ "Berlinale | Archive | Annual Archives | 2012 | Prize Winners". www.berlinale.de. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  3. ^ "Asia Pacific Screen Awards » 2012 ASIA PACIFIC SCREEN AWARDS NOMINEES". Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  4. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia - Official Awards of the 72nd Venice Film Festival". www.labiennale.org. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
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