Amid increasing global interest in films and TV series from Turkey, Berlin-based distribution and sales company AF-Media — which specializes in Turkish movies — is expanding beyond its core markets to new territories across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and possibly even South America.
Launched by Ali Fidan in 2011, AF-Media is a leading distributor of Turkish films in Germany — home to an estimated 3.5 million people of Turkish origin, the lion’s share of the approximately 5 million living in Europe — as well as in France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and the U.K.
The company is now moving to other European markets and key overseas territories in the Middle East and Asia, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which recently ended a 35-year ban on movie theaters. “I would be very honored to present our titles in Saudi Arabia, and I’m sure we would attract large audiences,” Fidan said. “The potential there is very high.”
AF-Media is already in talks with industry reps from Saudi Arabia and has scheduled further discussions in Cannes. Fidan said similar lifestyles in Asia, the Gulf region and the Balkans make them prime markets for Turkish films. “Turkish series are extremely popular in the Balkans and in the United Arab Emirates and, as a result, the interest in Turkish actors is very high,” he said.
AF-Media’s international push follows intense interest in Can Ulkay’s acclaimed fact-based historical drama “Ayla — Daughter of War” (pictured), about a Turkish soldier who saves a little girl during the Korean War. “‘Ayla’ has aroused great interest all over the world and was also a kind of ‘a-ha’ moment for us,” Fidan said, adding that “inquiries came from almost every continent, from Kazakhstan to Qatar and from Russia to Spain.”
The film has already sold to European Dreams Factory in Spain and Gulf Film in Qatar.
The company is just starting its move into international sales, with five titles from its catalog currently on offer. In addition to “Ayla,” AF-Media is presenting mystery thriller “Entrusted,” children’s film “Little White Whale” and comedies “Family Surprises” and “Little Gangster.”
Fidan said South America is next on the list of potential markets. “We are looking at the possibility of dubbing our titles into Spanish — and also English for territories such as the UAE, which has a huge portion of international audiences.”
While prospects for Turkish films in the U.S. are limited, the company is nevertheless in talks with VOD platforms. Turkish series such as “Winter Sun” have found plenty of U.S. fans on Netflix.