Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
The cost of reconstruction
From The Economist print edition
It takes many hands to reconcile two peoples so divided by history
FOR centuries, a stone bridge spanning the emerald green waters of the Akhurian River connected the southern Caucasus to the Anatolian plains: a strategic pivot on the Silk Road, running through the ancient Armenian kingdom of Ani. Today the bridge would have linked tiny, landlocked Armenia to Turkey. But war and natural disasters have reduced it to a pair of stubs—a sad commentary on the relations between the two states.
This grim image prompted an Ankara-based think-tank, called Tepav, to devise a plan to rebuild the bridge and in so doing to reopen the long-sealed land border by stealth. “The idea is to promote reconciliation through cross-border tourism,” explains Tepav’s director, Guven Sak. Turkey’s doveish president, Abdullah Gul, has embraced the plan. The Armenian authorities and diaspora Armenians with deep pockets are also interested. If all went to plan, the bridge’s restoration would only be the start of a broader effort to repair hundreds of other Armenian architectural treasures scattered across Turkey.
This semi-official stamp on a relationship in the absence of diplomatic ties (foreseen in an accord signed last October, but yet to materialise) would be a first. Yet academics, artists and journalists are striking peace on their own terms. Hardly a day passes without Turks and Armenians hobnobbing at a reconciliation event.
It is a tricky business because true reconciliation means confronting the ghosts of the past. For decades Turkey denied the mass extermination of the Ottoman Armenians in 1915. Under Turkey’s draconian penal code, anyone who dares to describe the Armenian tragedy as a genocide can end up in jail or even dead. In 2007 an ultra-nationalist teenager murdered Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish editor who often wrote about the genocide. Although Ogun Samast pulled the trigger it is widely assumed that rogue security officials from the “deep state” gave him the gun.
Dink’s death was a turning point. More than 100,000 Turks of all stripes showed up at his funeral bearing placards that read: “We are all Armenians.” Indeed if the murder was intended to stifle debate it had the reverse effect. A growing number of Turks are uttering the g-word. Ugur Umit Ungor, a young Turkish academic is one of them. His research aims to show how many Young Turk cadres involved in the massacres continued to thrive after the republic was founded in 1923.
Others allude to history in more subtle ways. Take Mehmet Binay, a Turkish film director. His documentary “Whispering Memories” tells the story of ethnic Armenians in a village called Geben, who embraced Islam (presumably to avoid death at the hands of Ottoman forces). Sobs were heard during a recent screening of the film in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.
Although today’s inhabitants of Geben hesitate to call themselves Armenians, a growing number of “crypto-Armenians” (people forced to change identity) do just that. Their stories were collected and recently published by Fethiye Cetin, a Turkish human-rights lawyer, whose grandmother revealed her own Armenian roots shortly before her death.
Meanwhile, an army of humble if accidental Armenian ambassadors are helping to melt the ice. Turkey says that as many as 70,000 illegal Armenian migrant workers, mostly women, eke out a living as servants and nannies in Istanbul. A recent study by Alin Ozinian, an Armenian-Turkish researcher shows that such women arrive full of fear of “the Turk” only to return with stories of kindness. If the land borders were to be reopened some day, their wages would not have to be spent on long, pricey bus rides through Georgia.
|Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.|
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Composing music for "Talking Pictures" was a great experience. I had the chance to work with a lot of freedom and with some bonds at the same time. I had freedom because with Mehmet and Caner, the directors, we started talking about music before the actual editing started, just getting inspiration from the story, which I consider a very touching one. At the same time I had a bond, because I was asked to use "Cilicia", a famous Armenian song which was originally composed by Kapriel Yeranian. "Cilicia" served as the main source of the musical material we would hear in the film. We had the recording of one of the characters singing Cilicia, so I even used some audio material and composed a piece that could fit that singing, with new harmonic and timbral solutions.
For another sequence in the movie, where Ghazaros and Vivian travel to Turkey, I was asked for a simple piano piece, but with different tempo speeds that could fit different visual speeds. The song is called "Why are we visitors now?". In this blog, we are making this song available to readers as an appetizer to the film.
Another piece, "I'll be back" is a sort of classical quartet version of Cilicia, where the sorrow and the despair of the original song gives way to a calmer and limpid meditation. Also, having the chance to travel to Istanbul and to work alongside the team of Talking Pictures added quality to the final result, apart from making it a wonderful human experience.
In CAM Film's studio we worked side by side with Mehmet, Caner and Jasmin, the editor of many successful documentaries. We would sit and watch the images and then I would go back to my desk and keyboard, editing and changing my score according to the changing needs of the movie. Then I would give Jasmin the new audio file and again we would comment the effect of the music on the images, in a process of action and reaction, until we reached the desired solution.
That's why I really enjoyed the whole process and I am very happy with the artistical result.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Long before we started filming WHISPERING MEMORIES, it was well agreed that there should have been no voice over to tell the story of “Converts”.
Being in a remote village in southern Turkey, in a harsh environment, trying to persuade people talk about the past which have been silent for almost a century, kept us quite... We decided to let the people talk.
When Ghazaros found us last year, it was obvious that he would want to talk about his past and search for his lost family history. He’d brought pictures from his family album which started giving us hints to his barb-wired history.
Hence we developed the idea of taking still photographs and editing them in a motion picture film along with Ghazaros’ family album. The result was a documentary called TALKING PICTURES.
I believe that not only the truth but also the future lies in between the lines of TALKING PICTURES only if we can watch the pictures move along and listen to what they say, without prejudice.
Director / Talking Pictures