This week the Yunus Emre Institute hosted their monthly Turkish Movie Night, featuring the film “Son Mektup” (The Last Letter) directed by Ӧzhan Eren. Every month the Yunus Emre Institute shows a new film that will help people eager to learn more about Turkey understand different aspects of Turkish art and culture.
The guests chatted with each other and our staff upon their arrival, eagerly awaiting the start of their Turkish cinematic adventure. Once all of the attendees arrived, they found their seats to begin the movie, most of them not quite knowing what to expect. Casey Kim, the Institution’s employee, stood in front of the room to thank everyone who took the time to come for the movie presentation. Casey described the importance of Çanakkale and what took place at Gallipoli she also elaborated on Ӧzhan Eren’s background in film as a director, producer, and film composer. Additionally, she thanked them for their support of Turkish culture, traditions, and of course, Turkish films. After Casey’s opening comments the play button was pressed, the lights were turned off, and the audience traveled back in time to Istanbul circa 1915.
The film tells the story of a pilot named Captain Salih Ekram who fights for the Ottoman Empire against the British during World War I. He entrusts his daughter, Gülmelek, with her grandmother since Salih’s wife died during childbirth. Salih leaves Istanbul and travels to Gallipoli to defend the strategic peninsula from an imminent British attack. After Salih returns from a reconnaissance mission, two British planes attack medical personnel and a couple of innocent people, leaving Salih and others critically injured. Although Salih ends up hurt from the attack he manages to save the life of a young boy named Fuat with the help of a nurse named Nihal. With no one to take care of Fuat after his grandmother died during the attack, Salih and Nihal look after him. A bond is forged between Captain Salih and Nihal during the war even after Nihal must return to Istanbul for her responsibilities as a nurse. They continue their relationship through letters sent back and forth to each other during the war until the last letter. As the credits rolled and the lights came back on to illuminate the room, the guests glanced at everyone they were sitting next to and began chatting about their opinions of the film.
The reception of the movie was overwhelmingly positive and although many had heard about Gallipoli they were surprised to see what transpired there on the screen. One audience member had actually visited Gallipoli and Istanbul and shared her impressions of the region. Another guest, who was Turkish, talked about how Turkish people remember this time period in popular culture, holidays, and songs. They also discussed how interesting translating Turkish is because of Turkish’s unique turns of phrase that often require cultural knowledge. After a light group discussion, guests talked amongst themselves about what they learned during the movie. They slowly made their way to the Institution’s exit but not without a few good laughs and many thanks for showing such an original and unique film. Several even exchanged numbers and promised to meet up at future events to celebrate Turkish culture.
The Yunus Emre Foundation is a public foundation formed to promote Turkey, Turkish language, its history and culture and art, make such related information and documents available for use in the world, provide services abroad to people who want to have education in the fields of Turkish language, culture and art, to improve the friendship between Turkey and other countries and increase the cultural exchange. If you are interested in future events please follow the institute’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @YEEWDC