Director (B. 1937, Bolvadin / Afyonkarahisar– D. 23rd August 2009, Istanbul). He graduated from Institute of Journalism of Istanbul University Department of Economics (1959). After returning from his military service in 1963, he started to write film articles in Yeni Istanbul newspaper’s art page led by Tarık Buğra I.U. Institute of Journalism. He also worked as an assistant director in Erman Movie Studios. He assisted directors such as Dr. Arşevir Alınak, Osman Seden and Orhan Aksoyin about fifty movies until 1968. He became a director for the first time in the documentary movie “Kâbe Yolları”. He founded Elif Movie Company in 1969 and started to shoot movies which were in harmony with the “national cinematography” stream.
Yücel Çakmaklı gave in his movie “Birleşen Yollar” the first hints of a stream which would reconcile two life perspectives in the Turkish society and which would turn into a thesis cinema. He had a pioneer identity with his different perspective he brought to our cinematography. Our cinematography whose first seeds were planted in the last years of the Ottoman Empire was shaped in the hands of Muhsin Ertuğrul who could be regarded as the applier of “one-party-system” of the republic in the cinematography and started to reflect the type of man requested by the regime into stage.
As the Turkish cinematography was developing in 1950s he witnessed the participation of numerous financers, scenarists, lighters, film editors, assistants, directors and actors to the sector and that cinematography was accepted as a craft. Topics of movies were rather about little tensions between people, dramas, daily lives in form of melodrama or comedy borrowed from American, Indian or Arabic cinematography. It accepted the regime’s understanding of social life as a status-quo and did not need to question it. There was not any concern about the visual reflection of civilization given by the historical accumulation and these indications of existence came into being as an expression of accordance of Yeşilçam’s fairy tales’ spirit as maybe in the form of public cinematography.
The realist social approach which appeared in 1960s as a concern, existed as a worrying line in the language of the social system more than the own norms of our civilization’s circle. It originated from the social realism variant of modernization which is part of this social structure which determined its axis only in the direction of modernization. Another stream which carried the social worry during these ten years was “national cinematography”.
The year 1970 in the Turkish cinematography was a beginning of the first conscious step of the spiritual climate which was immanent in the historical tissue of this geography. The spiritual perspective which was excluded for years infiltrated cinematography even under the discursive norms of Yeşilçam which had the outlook of a public cinematography with its mainstream. He passed into literature as his movies in these years were defined as “national cinematography”.
As the first step of this long-running way Çakmaklı shot the movie “Birleşen Yollar” which was produced by Elif Movies and which was adapted from Şule Yüksel Şenler’s novel Huzur Sokağı. In this movie he reconciled the ways of two separate life perspectives in the Turkish society and clashed them with each other from time to time. This was in the same time a clash of the West and our historical identity Islam in terms of civilization using dialogues and a comparative method. He gave the first hints of a stream which would turn into a thesis cinematography in the forthcoming period. “Birleşen Yollar” in the same time was a sample for later works of this stream. Çakmaklı in this movie chose an elite, artistic and encompassing esthetical understanding as orientation took Yeşilcam discourse which was familiar to people as medium and did not aim an elite level. However the movie had the characteristics of a work which approached the social image from the perspective of civilization even if its cinematographic expression was not processed in depth.
Nevertheless the cinematographic language of these movies was far from having the refined, matured, distilled structure asserted by Sufism which is the manifestation of a new style which introduces a gaze which has an alternative and of this spiritual perception certainly, in the world of esthetics. One can say that the most extreme example of this was experienced in “Oğlum Osman”; the reason can be explained by the director’s acting with an opportunist orientation. Çakmaklı had stated his view on cinematography in an interview done with him in 1990 as following; “In my understanding of cinematography the essence comes first. I definitely do not prioritize formalism. In my opinion the form is determined by the essence”.
Çakmaklı continued his director’s career within Turkish Radio and Television Institute (TRT) between 1975 and 90. He show movies for TV which consisted of short stories. “Çok Sesli Bir Ölüm” and “Çözülme” he adapted from Rasim Özdenören’s stories and which are the first productions to receive in television movies branch in 1978 in Prague are of such works. He shot television series such as adapted from the novel of Tarık Dursun K. “Denizin Kanı” and from novels of Tarık Buğra such as “Küçük Ağa” and “Kuruluş”. He produced television plays adapted from theatrical works of Necip Fazıl Kısakürek “Bir Adam Yaratmak” and Turan Oflazoğlu “IV. Murad”. The life story of Hacı Arif Bey and “Aliş’ le Zeynep” which was inspirited by a Rumeli song can be deemed as music intensive dramas.
Yücel Çakmaklı deserved to be one of the most authentic directors of Turkish cinematography thanks to his experiences of childhood and early adolescence. Being a pioneer in many fields and directing movies about various topics he was known as a hard working director. He was granted “Order of Merit” by Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 2008 and the same year “Endeavor Prize” by the Turkish Republic Ministry of Cultural Affairs due to his 50-years-service in cinematography.
Yücel Çakmaklı’s flexible and humanitarian spiritual world is of a priceless value for the Turkish Cinematography. He passed away after an operation caused by cardiac insufficiency on the 23rd of August 2009 in Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine and inhumed into Zincirlikuyu Cemetery.