“Turkish Passport” premiered in Cannes
"The Turkish Passport" premiered in Cannes:
When human solidarity prevails over barbarity and indifference
(Right to left: Ambassador Ertan Tezgor,VMichèle Merowka, Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, Burak Arliel, Gunes Celikcan, Yael Habif, Bahadir Arliel)
On Wednesday, May 18, during the 64th Cannes Film Festival, more than 250 people in a packed cinema applauded Turkish director Burak Arliel’s “The Turkish Passport,” the first docudrama about the Holocaust produced in a Muslim country that relates the little-known story of the rescue of hundreds of Jews in Nazi-occupied France by Turkish diplomats.
The screening, organized by the Aladdin Project in partnership with Interfilm Istanbul, the Jewish Community of Turkey and the French Committee for Yad Vashem, was attended by diplomats from Turkey and Israel, members of the Jewish community in the French Riviera and Monaco and many festival goers.
Before the screening, the audience listened to remarks by Aladdin Project President Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, director Burak Arliel, Ambassador Ertan Tezgor, Turkey’s representative in the International Task Force for Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, and Michèle Merowka, representative of the French Committee for Yad Vashem.
They briefly recalled the facts of history and commended the film's producers Gunes Celikcan and Bahadir Arliel and project director Yael Habif for taking the initiative to show the dark pages of history of the Holocaust, as well as the luminous pages written by the Turkish consuls. Indeed, Mrs. Revcolevschi pointed out in her introduction that according to precise information assembled by Serge Klarsfeld, despite the rescue of hundreds of Jews of Turkish origin, nearly a thousand others had been deported to death camps between 1942 and 1944. She added that the testimonies of the "survivors" who appear in the film also pointed to this fact, as many of them said that their parents and relatives were deported and never came back. She also informed the audience that the archive footage showing the Drancy camp had been identified by Serge Klarsfeld as not showing Jews before their deportation, but prisoners accused of collaboration with the Germans and interned in Drancy in the weeks following the Liberation. Director Burak Arliel undertook to remove these images from the final version of the film.
Many Turkish personalities and representatives of the Jewish community in Turkey, including Moris Levi, vice president of the executive board of the Jewish Community of Turkey, Naim Güleryüz, president of the Jewish Museum in Istanbul, Haluk Gürgen of the Bahcesehir University of Istanbul, and Sekib Avdagic, President of Istanbul European Capital of Culture, attended the screening along with Martine Ouaknine, Deputy Mayor of Nice representing Mayor Christian Estrosi, Councillor Genevieve Koubi representing Cannes Mayor Bernard Brochand, and Councillor Eliane Zayan, representing Marseilles Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin.
Several diplomats, including Berris Ekinci, Consul General of Turkey in Marseille, Turgut Kural, cultural counsellor of the Turkish Embassy in Paris, Dr. Ilham Aygun, Honorary Consul of Turkey in Monaco, Michel Harel, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy Israel in France and Jean-Dominique Leraci, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Canada in France, also attended the screening.
Before the screening began, director Burak Arliel told the audience that his goal was to show that human values must transcend all religious, ethnic and cultural divides, and pay homage to those brave individuals who did not allow themselves to stagnate in indifference and apathy in the face of the suffering of others.
The moving testimony of Mrs. Mina Ozdoganci, daughter of Mr. Fikret Sefik Ozdoganci Consul, who had organized from February to May 1944 eight Istanbul-bound train convoys, and that of Mr. Nisso Barbouth, who as a boy travelled to safety on one of these trains, concluded this evening of great dignity where the values of courage and brotherhood were recalled with conviction, shared by all guests.
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