Kurtlar Vadisi Filistin, New York basınında da ilgiyle takip ediliyor. Kurtlar Vadisi Filistin’in Adana Kiremithane’deki çekimlerine konuk olan NY Times, sayfalarında filme geniş yer verdi.
Çekimleri Tarsus ve Adana’da devam eden Kurtlar Vadisi Filistin, dünya basınında yankı uyandırmaya devam ediyor. Avrupa ve Ortadoğu gazetelerinin manşetlerinden inmeyen filme şimdi de NY Times geniş yer verdi.
Kurtlar Vadisi’nin başarısının vurgulandığı haberde, filmin yönetmeni Zübeyr Şaşmaz ve yerel halkla yapılan söyleşilerin yanı sıra, senarist Bahadır Özdener’in de “Biz filmimizle insanların vicdanına sesleniyoruz, dünyanın en büyük dramlarından birinin son bulmasını istiyoruz. Dünyanın en büyük hapishanesindeki masum mazlum Filistin halkının özgür olmasını istiyoruz.” sözleri yer aldı.
“We’ve come to pick up the terrorists hiding here,” the soldier said, not bothering to keep the condescension from his tone.
“This is Palestine,” the police chief replied. “You have no jurisdiction on this land. Take your men and get lost.”
Heavily armed men behind each man bristled, gripping their weapons tighter in anticipation of the soldier’s reaction.
“And cut!” yelled the director, breaking the silent tension on a street in Kiremithane, a low-income neighborhood in this southern Turkish town that for the past two months has been transformed into a studio where “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine,” the latest installment of the wildly popular Turkish television and film franchise, is being shot. “Let’s do it one more time, but this time pause a bit between your lines, will you, chief?”
“Valley of the Wolves: Palestine” is built around the unsuccessful attempt in May by a six-boat Turkish flotilla to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American youth were killed when Israeli commandos boarded one ship, the Mavi Marmara, in international waters.
The episode stirred international outrage and severely strained Israel’s relations with Turkey, once a close ally. It also led to a substantial easing of the land blockade of Gaza, which is run by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
Recently, Israel’s top military commander told an Israeli panel investigating the episode that while mistakes had been made in carrying out the raid, the activists were the first to open fire on his soldiers.
“Valley of the Wolves” began in 2003 as a weekly television series whose central character, a Turkish covert agent named Polat Alemdar, is played by Necati Sasmaz. Each week, Polat confronts one crisis or another whose roots often reference noteworthy — or notorious — current events. Think “24” crossed with “Law and Order.” Ratings soared.
An action movie, “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” followed in 2006, tapping into the strong feelings of anger many Turks feel toward the United States over the American-led invasion of Iraq. That film, co-starring Gary Busey and made with a budget of more than $10 million, was seen by more than four million viewers in Turkey, still a record. But it failed to attract a significant audience in the United States or Europe.
The next three years brought two more movies in the series.
The production company, Pana Film, had already settled on Palestinian territories as the focus of this year’s release and was about to start shooting when the flotilla confrontation turned into a peg for what the company hopes will be another blockbuster.
The existing script was either scrapped or gently rewritten, depending on whom one talks to. In its place is a tale of Polat being sent to Gaza and the West Bank to seek out the Israeli commander who ordered the occupation of the Mavi Marmara. Polat’s instructions: Avenge the deaths of the nine Turks on board and the sufferings of all Palestinians.
This time, said Bahadir Ozdener, one of the three screenwriters, potential box office receipts are not the main consideration.
“We’re calling out to people’s conscience,” Mr. Ozdener said. “All we want is freedom for innocent and tormented Palestinian people living in inhumane conditions in the world’s biggest prison.”
The film critic Mehmet Acar of the newspaper Haber Turk said the “Valley of the Wolves” movies attracted few viewers in the West because they sorely lack fundamentals like quality cinematography. But a powerful narrative that tells the story of Gaza in a sympathetic way could be a huge draw in Asia and the Middle East, where many people voice admiration for Turkey’s often strong defense of Muslim countries as the government holds fast to its desire to join the European Union.
And opening, as it does, with a scene of the killings aboard the Mavi Marmara capitalizes on Turkey’s regional popularity, Mr. Acar said.
“It’s sacrificing cinema to politics,” he said. “They are basically picking the most sensitive issue in current Turkish and regional politics simply to attract an audience, in a masculine tale full of action.”
The director, Zubeyr Sasmaz, who is also the star’s brother, sees the movie as about far more than a power struggle between a Turkish agent and an Israeli commando. The real story, he said, is about how Simone, an American tour guide and daughter of Jewish parents, comes to understand “the truth” about Palestine as the movie unfolds.
“She represents the American individualism, and discovers humanism as she gets forced to live among Arabs,” Mr. Sasmaz said, sipping tea and smoking a cigarette during a short break in filming. “Hers is the only character that evolves after learning about the human tragedies in Gaza.”
The production team insists that “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine,” which is to be ready for release in early October, has nothing to do with religion and that it does not feed anti-Semitism. But the television show has portrayed Israeli security forces doing such things as kidnapping babies and killing innocent civilians.
Israel has officially protested those scenes, expressing concerns that they could fuel anti-Semitism and endanger the safety of Jews in Turkey.
“People know Israel well enough to differentiate between Judaism and Zionism,” Mr. Ozdener said. “The debate on anti-Semitism is just an emergency button for the Israeli Zionist policies. It never existed or will exist on these lands.”
In Kiremithane, not one of nearly 300 households objected to having their unfinished concrete walls scarred with Arabic graffiti or Palestinian political party posters in an effort to mimic the appearance of Beit Leed, a village near Tulkarm in the West Bank.
Shop windows were restocked with goods brought from Gaza, and almost all Turkish signs along the narrow dirt streets were written over, in Arabic.
For the past two months, hundreds of people from the neighborhood — young and old, women, men and children — have waited patiently each night, obeying calls for silence and “Action!” to get a snapshot of the film’s stars.
“I don’t know what these writings say,” said Sultan Kaya, a mother of three, standing in front of the Arabic graffiti-covered walls of her home across from the main filming area, “but we are happy to be a part of something that will help the world see how Muslims suffer in Palestine.” Her 11-year-old son, Kadir, will be among some local youngsters “throwing stones” at Israeli soldiers in a protest scene.
“This movie is a break away from lies and shows the naked truth about my people,” said the film’s Palestinian translator and geographical consultant, who would not give his name because, he said, he feared for the safety of his family in the West Bank.
“Everyone in Palestine and my friends in neighboring countries are counting the days for this movie,” he said.