Yılmaz Güney Short Film Competition

As the London Kurdish Film Festival, we believe that short films play a crucial role in the development of Kurdish cinema. 

The Yılmaz Güney Short Film Award was launched in 2007 to promote and encourage the making of short films. While traditionally treated as the poor cousin to feature films, we believe short films allow filmmakers greater scope for creative expression, an opportunity for learning and the chance to be discovered. 

Living in the age of digital revolution and the internet, the proliferation of mobile devices, the introduction of inexpensive and user-friendly editing tools; and the emergence of distribution sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, has also meant that short films have experienced a renaissance in recent years. The number of awards Kurdish short films have scooped up over the past few years further supports this.

“We don’t want to spend our lives in foreign lands and be forced to sing songs of exile until we die”

A master of striking imagery, powerful storytelling and political commitment, the persona and films of Yılmaz Güney continue to influence, to this very day, filmmakers from all around the world. Yılmaz Güney’s films not only revolutionised political Turkish cinema but were pivotal in the development of Kurdish cinema. 

Script writer, director, producer, author and actor, Güney was a man of diverse aptitude. Born in 1937 in Siverek, near Adana in Turkey as the son of a farming family, Güney led the extraordinary life of a man who never made a compromise. 

Güney’s career in cinema began while pursuing degrees in law and economics - in Ankara and Istanbul - Güney worked his way up from screenwriting and assisting other directors to becoming an actor for the prominent filmmaker (and fellow Kurd) Atif Yilmaz. 

As a Kurd, Güney became increasingly politicised and spent much of his later adult life in prison where he reinvented himself as a world-class director, writing and producing his most successful films (the Herd - 1979, The Way - 1982, The Wall - 1983). 

His penultimate film, YOL “The Way”, won the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1982. Güney died of cancer two years later, aged 47, in exile and stripped of his citizenship. Over 500.00 people from all over Europe attended his funeral.