Kuma has won several international awards including the Special Audience Prize at the 2012 Lecce Festival of European Cinema and the Golden Starfish Award at the 2012 Hamptons International Film Festival. At the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival Begüm Akkaya won Honorable Mention in the category of Best Actress. The film was nominated for Best Debut Film at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.
Writing for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw rated the film three stars out of five, and described it as "strongly and honestly acted", with "a strong hint of soapy melodrama". In a review for The Telegraph, Tim Robey awarded Kuma the same rating and described it as a "vigorous and engrossing debut".