Born in Istanbul in 1959, Ferzan Özpetek moved to Italy at age eighteen to study at La Sapienza University in Rome. He later attended directing courses at the Accademia d'Arte Drammatica "Silvio D'Amico," also in Rome, which paved the way for his future positions as assistant director to Maurizio Ponzi, Massimo Troisi, and other Italian directors. Özpetek's directorial debut came to fruition in 1997, with Hamam, later released in the United States as Steam: The Turkish Bath. The movie stars Alessandro Gassman as Francesco, a young married man living in Italy, who is called to Turkey in order to sell a hamam he inherits from a distant aunt. Instead of closing an easy sale, he unexpectedly falls in love with Istanbul. In 1998, The New York Times called the film "a love letter to the quiet joy of finding one's place in the world," in a statement that already intimates what would become Özpetek's signature: narratives that work to unravel and unite the many facets of its multicultural characters, captured on film with seemingly effortless elegance. From December 4-14, 2008, MoMA screened seven Özpetek-directed feature films: Saturno Contro, Harem Suaré, Cuore Sacro, Hamam, La Finestra di Fronte, Un Giorno Perfetto, and Le Fate Ignoranti. This exhibition was part of the Filmmaker in Focus series at MoMA, which highlights the achievements of a mid-career, critically established director whose work is remarkable but not so well-known in the United States. This is the second exhibition in the series, which began in September 2008 with a Carlos Reygadas
As part of a longstanding tradition, Moleskine worked with MoMA in order to create a limited edition notebook commemorating the Özpetek retrospective. So far, eleven notebooks have been customized for each director-based MoMA film event - this is the tenth. All feature the signature of the director embossed on the front cover. A 2009 weekly diary and address booklet were chosen for the inside pages of the Özpetek pocket notebook. The timely gift, wrapped in a brightly colored belly-band listing the films shown at MoMA during the Özpetek retrospective, was given to guests and friends of the organizations that made the screenings possible, including the Italian Ministry of Culture, Cinema Department, The Italian Cultural Institute of New York, the Moon and Stars Project, The American Turkish Society, and Peuterey.