Turkish production company Ay Yapim hosted the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a special event from May 31 to June 3. International Academy Day, a high-level, invitation-only four-day event which took place in Istanbul for the first time, provided Academy members with an immersive experience in Turkish culture, Turkey's TV market, and the global success of Turkish drama. The event featured tours, panels, parties, and a gala showcasing prominent figures in Turkish drama.
Kerem Çatay, CEO of Ay Yapim, opened the proceedings with a warm welcome to International Academy Day attendees, which included members from 25 different countries. “Today, we are here with leading industry representatives from across the globe. It is my pleasure to introduce you to the producers, screenwriters, directors and actors who helped create the TV series produced in Turkey and watched all over the world,” Çatay said.
“We wanted to come to Turkey for many years because of the culture, the art and the history, but we have had to overcome many obstacles – from the pandemic to the earthquake. Now it is a thrill to be here at last with Kerem Çatay and his colleagues,” commented Bruce Paisner, President and CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
The event kicked off with a panel on Turkish culture, featuring Aydin Erdem from the research company KONDA, and history professor Arzu Öztürkmen, along with Madd Entertainment’s Ateş İnce. They discussed Turkey's urbanization, the rise of private TV channels in the 1990s, and the aspirational role of Turkish dizis in society. The panel highlighted the competitive nature of the TV industry and its contribution to the success of Turkish dramas worldwide.
The second session explored the global appeal of Turkish content. Erdi Isik, Drama Development Manager at Ay Yapim, provided insights into Turkey's television industry, stating that over the past six years 65 companies have produced 251 television series for Turkey's major networks, with an additional 128 series made for OTT platforms. Prof. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, from the University of Georgia, discussed the similarities and differences between Turkish dizis and Latin American telenovelas, emphasizing the slower pacing, high production values, and unexpected plot twists that make Turkish dramas popular. Lastly, Juan Ignacio Vicente, General Manager and VP Paramount Chile at Chilevision, shared his personal story of introducing Turkish drama to Latin America, leading to its widespread success in the region.
Friday began with a panel on the role of women in Turkish drama. Screenwriters Ece Yörenç and Sema Ergenekon, veteran producer and Netflix executive Pelin Diştaş, and leading actress Beren Saat, along with moderator Kerem Bürsin, discussed how their local Turkish series gained global recognition. They emphasized the personal nature of their storytelling and the importance of strong women characters. The panelists agreed that Turkish dramas serve as an inspiration to women worldwide. Authenticity was highlighted as a crucial factor in the success of Turkish drama, resonating with diverse viewers.
The final panel featured Kerem Çatay and Charlotte Raben, from Warner Brothers International. They discussed their longtime collaboration bringing foreign formats to the Turkish market, many of which have gone on to become international hits in their own right. Çatay stressed the importance of a strong family component and love stories in Turkey's drama series. Both panelists emphasized the fierce competition among Turkey's broadcasters, resulting in high-quality productions that resonate with international audiences.
The International Academy Day concluded with a star-studded gala attended by Academy guests, Turkey's producers, directors, TV executives, and dozens of renowned Turkish stars, including Kenan İmirzalıoğlu, Sinem Kobal, Serenay Sarıkaya, Halit Ergenç, Birce Akalay, Kerem Bürsin, Pınar Deniz, Demet Evgar, Beren Saat, Canan Ergüder, Aras Bulut İynemli, Tolga Sarıtaş, Zerrin Tekindor, Alina Boz, Erkan Kolçak Köstendil, Kaan Urgancıoğlu, Miray Daner, Rıza Kocaoğlu, Ahmet Rıfat Şungar, Hazar Ergüçlü, Hatice Aslan, Ayça Ayşin Turan, Hafsanur Sancaktutan, Kubilay Aka, Perihan Savaş, Yiğit Özşener, Berkay Ateş, Neslihan Atagül, Yurdaer Okur, Hilal Altınbilek, Bensu Soral, Melike Yalova, Selim Bayraktar, and many more.