The film "The Ottoman Lieutenant," which is set during the days of World War I, hits theaters in the U.S. this week. The film approaches the Armenian issue with a neutral historical perspective but the Armenian National Committee of America immediately reacted after the film's release in the country with an announcement that it will prevent the screening of the film by sending threatening letters to movie theaters and schools.
The film's Turkish producers Güneş Çelikcan and Serdar Öğretici noted that they are facing an extremely unpleasant attitude.
Çelikcan pointed out that the film never uses offensive language in either the screenplay or promotional activities, but on the contrary, displays a stand against inter-cultural and inter-religious alienation through common suffering and remembrance.
He said that the insulting messages sent to the actors through social media, the letters written by some associations and people to remove the film from the cinemas, and the campaigns launched to block the film's screening, with calls for campaigns against the universities where all opinions should be spoken, along with letters sent to non-governmental organizations, the swastika sent to the film's American partner Stephen Brown, and the attitude displayed toward those who have positive views of the film, all indicate that people unfortunately need help in order to be open to peaceful dialogue and a project which has been realized as a positive step.
"I think cinema and art are one of the best ways for this kind of help. We were hoping that they would not take this conflict to cinema so that they would not get lost in their own intransigence," Çelikcan said, adding that against all this counter-propaganda and campaigning, the movie has received very positive reviews from many critical screenings. "It was the first Hollywood-Turkish co-production in the sector, and it opened many doors. We will continue to tell our stories here and all over the world."
Serdar Öğretici also noted that beyond being closed to dialogue, it is upsetting that people are not even allowed to look at things from another perspective and that it is done in a very ugly way.
"I think we need to improve our sense of unity. The Turks in America need to gather further on a more righteous axis," Öğretici said, stressing that those exclusionary and harmful campaigns launched around the world, especially in America, against both Muslims and unfortunately Turks and other nationalities, are incompatible with the values behind human rights and humanity.
"It is obvious that there are foundations that feed this, but our wish and endeavor is that people do not give credit to them, because we know and see that there is no distinction between people, but there are just groups dealing with and feeding on this," Öğretici said. "We will continue to stand against these groups and make films. They want to remove the film from theaters, but we will continue to show it on TV and international distribution."
The Ottoman Lieutenant, the first Hollywood film co-produced by Turkish and American producers, is set in the eastern Anatolian province of Van during World War I.
Following the story of an American nurse, acted by Hera Hilmar, the film's cast includes Academy Award-winning Ben Kingsley, accompanied by Josh Harnett, renowned for his previous performances in "Black Hawk Dawn" and "Pearl Harbor;" and Michiel Huisman, best known for his portrayal of Daario Naharis in "Game of Thrones," one of the most popular shows on TV.
The film also stars accomplished Turkish actors Haluk Bilginer as Khalil Pasha and Selçuk Yöntem as Melih Pasha. The film will mark Yöntem's Hollywood debut.