Film about heroic sergeant premieres in Istanbul

Published 29.08.2016 00:00
A still from the film picturing the hero, Ömer Halisdemir
A still from the film picturing the hero, Ömer Halisdemir

Late sergeant Ömer Halisdemir, who was killed during the failed Gülenist coup on July 15, is portrayed in a recent movie inspired by a poem

The short film titled, "30 Kuş" (30 Birds) premiered at the Esenler Municipality Dr. Kadir Topbaş Culture and Arts Center. The film touches on the tragic death of Sergeant Ömer Halisdemir, who was killed by coup plotters on July 15 after he shot and killed the general leading the attempted coup outside of Special Forces Command headquarters. The short film was inspired by the poem of the same name, written by poet Dursun Ali Erzincanlı, in tribute to the 30 bullets which riddled the body of the heroic sergeant.

Erzincanlı spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) at the premiere of the film, saying that in its simplest and purest form, "30 Birds" is a father's call to his son.

Emphasizing that the Turkish people rewrote history on the night of the coup attempt, Erzincanlı said, "Our contribution was simply to read this written epic and put it in words. I believed that it deserved a written soundtrack, and Taner Demiralp composed the score using his inner voice. We wanted to crown this visually."

Erzincanlı noted the poem and the film are the result of teamwork: "We are happy to do our part, adding a new page to history. I will go back to my normal life tomorrow knowing that a postscript has been added to history and we were simply the vessels in this matter. I consider Ömer Halisdemir to be the spiritual commander of all the heroes, since all of our people shed tears from him. From this point on he will be regarded as the hero of that night. When he cried out for his father, he called for the entire nation on behalf of all the heroes killed that night. The flame that is burning in our hearts helped us to produce this film. Who knows what will come next and what will be revealed? Hopefully, we did what befits us."

Producer Nazif Tunç said he found the poem "30 Birds" to be profoundly moving and that hearing the poem had an effect on him. Noting that poet Erzincanlı came up with the idea of shooting a short film for the poem, Tunç said, "We wanted to expand on the poem, give it permanence and turn into something that befits the sacrifices of our heroes while sending a message to the world. We decided to shoot this film with a crew comprised of mostly volunteers with limited facilities. Our only capital was our sentiment. Volunteers came from all over the world to be a part of this project."

Stressing that the film was not shot with any financial expectations, Tunç said, "This film is as clean as mother's milk. In this context, I think as human beings we have many flaws but we hope our heroes will forgive us for our efforts. It was a befitting, affective and emotionally moving movie." Indicating that Turgay Atalay portrayed Ömer Halisdemir perfectly, not just due to his physical resemblance but also with his faith and feelings, Tunç said Atalay was shivering during every minute of shooting for the film, since Halisdemir was not just an everyday character and he needed to be portrayed with respect. "If I had shot this film, I would have shot it in a dramatic way but Ekrem Aydın created something more glamorous by adding a little modern technique. [Aydın] burned the midnight oil and what has emerged is as beautiful as Turkey's resurrection and symbolizes that resurrection in art."

Director Ekrem Aydın said that on the night of July 15 he was in Bosnia working on a film and regretted not being a part of the resistance against the coup attempt. Aydın said he was looking to produce something about the resistance, and then he met the actor Turgay Atalay at a "democracy watch," saying, "As soon as I saw him, I noticed that he resembled Ömer Halisdemir in his posture and appearance. I told Nazif Tunç that I would do everything I could for the film and recommended Turgay for the part. He was generous and he directly entrusted us with the seat. We started shooting the film the next evening and suddenly found ourselves on the film set. I have been doing this job for the past 10 years, and even so I experienced an undefinable feeling. After a while, I started addressing our lead actor as 'Ömer.' This job would be done in one way or another, and this epic story would be shown in cinemas. This job was bestowed upon us."

Turgay Atalay said he was very excited to star as Ömer Halisdemir in "30 Birds," and he felt honored when the part was offered to him. Stating that portraying Halisdemir was a gift from God, Atalay said: "It is not just a part, but also trying to experience our hero and becoming whole with him. The possibility of him seeing you gives hope. Praise be to God for allowing me to portray Ömer Halisdemir, who carried the banner of Islam, kept to the last stronghold of the people's hope from falling and end as a hero."

Attended by Esenler Municipality Mayor Tevfik Göksu, the premier included an exhibition of photos from Anadolu Agency (AA) of events during and after the attempted coup by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). The short film "30 Birds" can be viewed online.

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