Friday, Oct 12, 2007
Ever since the McCarthy era nearly shut down Hollywood with its witch-hunting tactics to round up communists, there has been disagreement about whether entertainment should be used to promote the artists political opinion or whether artists should even HAVE a political opinion. The dirt of politics is seen as denigrating the art.
Today, the day that HR 106 passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I must adamantly say that not only should entertainment be used to promote political opinion, it MUST be used. After regular news and information media, entertainment is probably the best way to convey a position and influence the public. Popular entertainment reaches millions of people in the shortest amount of time.
And it seems that we, the Turkish and Turkish-American community, have been more than negligent by not doing so, but also more than victimized by others using the entertainment industry as a means to reap political gain over Turks and Turkey.
Historically, theatre, dance and music were the best way to get ones political message across, using dramatic and musical devices to camouflage the obvious into a story or piece that could arguably be quite innocent.
Through the use of comedy, satire and drama, theatre has provided an outlet for closet dissidents throughout history. Musical mood and melodic statements have provided a way for the not-so-articulate to express their emotions and political stance to the world. And as we most recently saw in our own community with Seda Aybays dance production Nar, dance can provide both the drama and the musical mood to send our message to the world beyond paper.
Today, entertainment has moved beyond theatre, music and dance, and now includes television and film, along with other electronic and experimental performance media.
Now, heres the real irritating part of this whole article:
Anti-Turkish sentiment has not been merely shown in these entertainment industry platforms, it has been sold, lock, stock and barrel, as a morally mandatory premise!
In the music industry and by very popular and talented musicians to boot System of a Down, a group of local Armenians, has gone beyond performing blatantly inflammatory and graphic songs to actually helping to produce a movie about themselves and their beliefs regarding events that occurred even before their grandparents could conceive of ever having grandchildren. Screamers got an immense amount of media attention just because of their appearance in the film, and every time they appeared on the news or a talk show for the movie, they spoke about the Armenian issue.
On television, the last two years have been a disaster. Two of the most popular shows on television portrayed Turks and Turkey not just in a negative light, but were out and out fabrications. I suppose one could say, Yes, but thats tv entertainment isnt real! However, where the portrayal is so politically improper as to show Turkey as having an Islamist government, this goes beyond the excuse, thats tv.
The West Wing opened on that fateful episode with a morning news flash that a Turkish woman, Karly Farquar, was to be executed for having had sex with her fiancé. This execution was to be carried out according the Islamic law! The most blatant lie is that a woman named Karly Farquar would be Turkish, but the more important issues are that 1. Turkey does not have capital punishment, and 2. Islamic law is NOT the law of the land both very important distinctions.
Then on 24, Jack Bower was tasked to unearth an Islamic group related to Al Qaide based in Ankara! And the terrorists name was Tomas! What? Yes, we all know that there are Islamists living and operating in Turkey, but the program made it seem as if they are openly waltzing around like free men.
And of course, theres film. We all know about Midnight Express which very conveniently aired yet again last week. No one has heard Billy Hayes denounce the portrayal of Turks in the movie other than Turks! The video that Alinur Velidedeo?lu made at Cannes was watched mostly by . . . us!
Other minor slurs have occurred, including Ararat, Atom Egoyans recounting of stories told to him by his family. Im sure that he is personally very sure of the veracity of these stories. After all, no one can ever accuse their father of exaggerating the truth not me. Egoyan is a very talented filmmaker and he has rightfully used that talent to express his views for the world. And the Armenian community stepped up and paid for it!
Most recently, the Turkish-American community got into an uproar over the rumored 40 Days of Musa Dagh remake, which it was also rumored that Sylvester Stallone was going to produce and star in. Much as I suspected, that project has not gone very quickly, if at all. But the rumor of the project was enough to make the news and get attention for an unfortunate and again controversial part of Ottoman history.
The list of documentaries on the subject is endless, including Armenian Genocide which again we all wrote nasty letters to PBS about for nothing.
All of these examples have one thing in common: They work very well to express the filmmakers views and impressions even though they are dead wrong of Turks and Turkey, including Turkish history.
So, now lets look at the internationally acclaimed films and other entertainment media produced by Turks or anyone that have put forth the Turkish view of ANY issue, including Islam, the events of World War I, or modern Turkish culture.
Well theres . . . . No, that really doesnt . . . .
Valley of the Wolves: Iraq! Hmm. Maybe a good film, but unfortunately, that doesnt show Turks in a very good light. It only shows Americans in a very BAD light. And not many outside of the Turkish community ever saw it.
The only thing that comes even close, and unfortunately has not been aired, is Marty Callaghans "Armenian Revolt". He very aptly sent a copy to every member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, urging them to watch it before the vote. I doubt that they did. And again, this documentary is not popular entertainment that everyone will sit down to watch. The same holds true for Desperate Hours. This is again a wonderful documentary, but people who watch documentaries tend to know the subject anyway.
Another example of entertainment that didnt reach enough people was the Istanbul Ballets Agir Roman, about the various cultures living in Istanbul. It only had two nights in Los Angeles, but made the Los Angeles Times and all other publications for an estimated 5 million people! Imagine what it could have done with more time and backing.
So, where are our international quality films? Yes, theres Broken Angel to premier in January! That covers the modern Turkish culture issue and its a great start, if I do say so myself. See the trailer at Broken Angel website.
But what about films on the other issues? What about films showing that Armenians, Turks and Kurds actually can get along and do!? What about TV programs that depict the Turkish-American community as a valuable asset rather than Islamists and hoodlums?
There arent any! And it isnt that there arent filmmakers out there more than willing to put their lives on the line (yes, it is sometimes risky making a statement) to get the message out there.
What is missing is the commitment of the Turkish business community to these endeavors.
In Turkey, films are made with sponsorships. In other words, a company pays money to have its product appear in the film, or in the titles, or at the premier. It expects nothing in return beyond having the company name associated with the star or the movie in the newspapers.
In the United States, we offer a return on the money. In other words, its an investment where not only is the companys name associated with the film in the press, the company or individual has an ownership of the film as well.
In spite of this more advantageous position, as an example, Broken Angel has taken nearly three years to get made. And we are still looking for sponsors and investors to make our deadline.
The Turkish business community must step up.
If you, either individually or your company, as a filmmaker or entertainment aficionado, feel that you should make your voice heard, that you are tired of sitting silently by while the world acts against you, then you can contact me or Turks In Entertainment for information about projects just waiting to be made.
WE need to SCREAM! And scream loudest! Not just on paper, but on the big screen!
Saturday, Jun 23, 2012
The Second "Kazakhstan Montage of Cinemas: Film & Cultural Festival" launches at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in Los Angeles on Aug. 3 for a one-week celebration of Kazakh cinema and culture, including musicians.
The festival is a stellar opportunity for directors, producers, location scouts, and the general public to get an understanding and appreciation of this exotic locale without leaving home.
Sweeping from the Caspian Sea on its Russian border to the Altai Mountain range on the Chinese border, Kazakhstan has a rich nomadic history as well as a powerful current tapestry of cultures. Since gaining independence in 1991, the Central Asian Republic has embraced its remarkable filmmaking past that dates back to the 1930's, when Sergei Eisenstein made his classic Ivan the Terrible in this mystic land, and has even given rise to several "New Wave" movements.
Opening night on Aug. 3rd begins with a reception at 7 pm, and includes a program of live entertainment until 11 pm, at the DGA Theater.
Sponsored by Kazakh Geographic Society (KazGeo.kz ), helixfilmsinc.com , the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the Honorary Consulate of Kazakhstan in Los Angeles, the festival includes Advisory Board Members Steven-Charles Jaffe (GHOST, K19), David Marconi (Screenwriter, ENEMY OF THE STATE), and Ambassador Erlan Idrissov.
Tickets cost $10 (including free parking) can be purchased from the festivals website. "Kazakhstan Montage of Cinemas: Film & Cultural Festival 2012" will be held Aug. 3 - 9 at the Directors Guild of America on 7920 Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, California
For more information, please see www.kazakhfestival.com - KazakhFilmFestLA@gmail.com
Source : HelixFilmsInc.com
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The 65th Festival de Cannes drew to a close tonight with the closing awards ceremony hosted by Academy Award nominated actress Berenice Bejo.
The top prize was captured yet again by Michael Haneke for his portrait of an elderly couple Amour. This is the second time he has bested Jacques Audiard who was also in competition with De rouille et d'os (Rust and Bone). Haneke becomes one of the few two-time Palme d'Or winners alongside Alf Sjoberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, Emir Kusturica, Shohei Imamura, and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne and only the second after August to win with consecutive films his previous Palme d'Or was for his 2009 film Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon).
Matteo Garrone picked up his second Grand Prix for his film Reality. Previously, he had won in 2008 for Gomorrah.
The surprise winner for the Jury Prize was Ken Loach with The Angels' Share. He previously won the Palme d'Or in 2006 with The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Another previous Palme d'Or winner won Best Screenplay. Cristian Mungiu who made 4 luni, 3 săptămâni ?i 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) returned with După dealuri (Beyond the Hills), and it also shared the Best Actress for its stars Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur.
In spite of the heavy American representation in the selection, the only American film to win a prize was Benh Zeitlin's Un Certain Regard entry Beasts of the Southern Wild which won the Camera d'Or for first film. Last night, it had won the FIPRESCI international critics' prize.
Complete list of winners for the 65th Festival de Cannes
Amour, Michael Haneke (France-Germany-Austria)
Reality, Matteo Garrone (Italy-France)
The Angels' Share, Ken Loach (U.K.-France-Belgium-Italy)
Carlos Reygadas, Post tenebras lux (Light After Darkness) (Mexico-France-Germany-Netherlands)
Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, După dealuri (Beyond the Hills) (Romania-France-Belgium)
Mads Mikkelsen, Jagten (The Hunt) (Denmark-Sweden)
Cristian Mungiu, După dealuri (Beyond the Hills) (Romania-France-Belgium)
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (U.S.)
PALME D'OR FOR BEST SHORT FILM
SESSYZ-BE DENG (SILENCE), REZAN YE?YLBA?
Source : www.ensonhaber.com