After studying architecture at Karadeniz Technical University, she completed her master’s degree at Yildiz University in Istanbul. She worked for a number of years as an architect, designer and restoration expert, and used her income to finance several short films that went on to receive critical acclaim. Her debut feature Iz (The Trace) was screened at numerous international festivals. Her next feature film, Günese Yolculuk (Journey to the Sun) told the moving story of a courageous friendship undaunted by political cruelty, and brought her international recognition and success. In competition at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival, Günese Yolculuk received the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film and the Peace Prize, and swept the International Istanbul Film Festival by winning the Best Film, Best Director, FIPRESCI and Audience Awards. The screenplay for Bulutlari Beklerken (Waiting for the Clouds) her latest film, won the prestigious Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award in 2003.
Filmography1984 Bir Ani Yakalamak (kisa) / To Catch a Moment (short)
1987 Magnafantanga (short)
1990 Düet (kisa) / Duet (short)
1992 Otel (kisa) / Hotel (short)
1994 Iz / The Trace | Turkey
Kemal is a plainclothes policeman investigating a suicide whose face has been obliterated. He becomes obsessed with the real appearance of the dead man.
1999 Günese Yolculuk / Journey to the Sun | Turkey, Netherlands, United Germany
Mehmet and Berzan, both from Anatolia, have come to Istanbul in search of work and a better life. By chance the two meet and become friends; Mehmet also befriends a young woman, Arzu, another newcomer struggling to survive in the city. The promising new start comes to an abrupt end when Mehmet loses his job and finds himself escorting Berzan's dead body back to a village that no longer exists - having been flooded to make an artificial lake.
2004 Bulutlari Beklerken / Waiting for the Clouds | France, United Germany, Greece
In the 1970s, the Turkish Republic was a country in great social and political upheaval, and its gargantuan neighbour, the Soviet Union, was a constant source of fear and paranoia. Turkish Communists and anyone else deemed an 'other' were watched closely by the government. Intolerance and suspicion reigned supreme. This atmosphere was especially intense in Turkey's north-eastern region which includes the Black Sea city of Trabzon, only a few hundred kilometres from the border with Soviet Georgia. Since antiquity, north-eastern Turkey was a crossroads of Greek and Turkish cultures, and these co-existed peacefully until the fall of the heterogeneous Ottoman Empire during WWI. Not far west of Trabzon is Tirebolu, a fishing village formerly populated by Pontic Greeks. Through one of Tirebolu's elderly inhabitants, a woman named Ayshe, we will learn of one nearly-forgotten episode of the war, a terrible result of Turkish-Greek animosity, in which the Ottoman army in the winter of 1916 evacuated villages west of Russian-occupied Trabzon. Greek residents were forced to suffer hasty, haphazard and deadly deportations in what was an early example of ethnic cleansing.
2004 Sirtlarindaki Hayat (belgesel) / Life on their Shoulders (documentary)
DOCKHORN, Katharina: Dunkles Kapitel türkischer Geschichte
Film-Echo/Filmwoche (0015-1149) n.36 , 06 September 2003, p.54, German, illus
A report on Yesim Ustaoglu's third feature film WAITING FOR THE CLOUDS.
DONMEZ-COLIN, Gönül: New Turkish Cinema - Individual Tales of Common Concerns
Asian Cinema (1059-440X) v.14 n.1 , May 2003, p.138-145, English
Looks at the work of the young generation of filmmakers, born in the 1960's and making films from the 1990's - Dervis Zaim, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Zeki Demirkubuz and Yesim Ustaoglu. Also looks at Turkish films shown at recent film festivals.
TASCIYAN, Alin: Turkey territory focus: Turkey turns up the heat
Screen International (0307-4617) n.1400 , 11 April 2003, p.7-9, English, illus
An analysis of the severe economic problems currently affecting the Turking film industry, and at the films nevertheless emerging. Refers to Turkish filmmakers Yesim Ustaoglu, Zeki Demirkubuz, Dervis Zaim and Nuri Bilge Ceylan
MONCEAU, Nicolas: Confronting Turkey's Social Realities: An Interview with Y..
Cinéaste v.26 n.3 , June 2001, p.28-30, English, illus
Career profile and interview with Yesim Ustaoglu. She talks particularly about her film GUNESE YOLCULUK (Journey to the Sun) featuring the realities of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict through the story of the friendship between two young men.
KHOSHCHEHREH & HAFTVAN, Levon Kh: Face to Face: An interview with Yesim Ustoglu: The Drowned..
Film International (1021-6510) v.7 n.4 , April 2000, p.43-44, English, illus
'The Drowned Culture of The Kurds' - Interview with Yesim Ustaoglu about GUNESE YOLCULUK (Journey to the Sun).
DÖNMEZ-COLIN, Gönül: The journey must go on
Cinemaya (0970-8782) n.44 , June 1999, p.4-8, English, illus
Yesim Ustoaglu talks about making JOURNEY TO THE SUN
KULAOGLU, Tunçay and PRIESSNER, Martina: Suche nach indetität: die türkische filmemacherin Yesim...
Filmforum (1431-7664) n.17 , May 1999, p.7-8, German, illus
Portrait of Yesim Ustaoglu.
DÖNMEZ-COLIN, Gönül: Personal Stories Need Not Be Autobiographical
Cinemaya (0970-8782) n.30 , October 1995, p.30-32, English, illus
Interview with Yesim Ustaoglu mentioning the success of IZ