Whenever Ferzan Özpetek returns to his native Istanbul, he’s greeted as a hero. Even though the fifty-three-year-old filmmaker has spent most of his career working in Italy, he’s showered with adoration upon each pilgrimage home (particularly after the release of his 1999 film Harem Suaré, a love story between a eunuch and a favorite concubine of the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire). Often compared to the tempestuous worlds of Pedro Almodóvar, Özpetek is known for the eloquent-yet-grounded treatment of homosexuality in many of his movies.
MoMA mounted a mid-career retrospective of his work in 2008, screening all seven of his films to date. Still, Özpetek’s films remain relatively unknown in the United States—though we expect to see a lot more of the director in the coming years. Watch clips from some of his most iconic moments below.