'Ayla,' A story of love: Turkey’s Oscar entry
Director Can Ulkay’s feature film “Ayla,” which has been selected Turkey’s Oscar entry for next year’s Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category, was shown to press members in Istanbul on Oct. 17.
Telling the story of Sergeant Süleyman, who finds an abandoned five-year-old girl in 1950 during the Korean War, the film stars İsmail Hacıoğlu, Çetin Tekindor and Lee Kyung-Jin.
“The film tells the love between a father and a daughter very well,” said veteran cinema critic Atilla Dorsay after the screening.
“It goes beyond borders, cultures and times and ultimately shows us how a person can love someone else. Despite the difference of their age and environment, the relationship between a Turkish sergeant and a little Korean girl becomes the symbol of what we call ‘love,’” Dorsay told state-run Anadolu Agency, adding that he had to wipe away a few tears during the screening.
“I also think Turkey will be viewed more sympathetically thanks to this film, at a time when our relations with the world are being destroyed,” he added, praising the Oscar submission as a “very good choice.”
“I don’t know if it will win the Oscar but it will certainly win the hearts of all Koreans and Far Easterners who watch it, as well as of Americans. It will also draw attention in Europe,” Dorsay said.
Fellow cinema writer Abdulhamit Güler highlighted the film’s classic theme of love during war and particularly praised the actors’ performances.
“The film is at Hollywood standards. It seems like the film was made for the Oscars and it also praises America. But it should be said that the attitude of Academy members in the Best Foreign Language Film category changes every year,” Güler said.
“Generally they give the award to this type of film but sometimes they select very unorthodox films. ‘Ayla’ is a touching and real story. The Turkish characters are particularly well-realized,” he added.
“We see the sacrifice and loyalty of Turkish soldiers in the film. And we are going through a similar process these days. There is not much difference between sheltering 3 million Syrians in Turkey and caring for Ayla in an environment of war,” Güler stated.
“Some of the transitions are too fast in the first part of the film, perhaps in order to prevent the film from being too long. But in the end it is a very good film in its own category,” he added.
“Ayla” will be released in Turkey on Oct. 27. The film was adapted from the real life story of Süleyman Dilbirliği and the script was written by Yiğit Güralp. The film score was written by Fahir Atakoğlu, and it stars actors Lee Kyung-jin, Ali Atay, Taner Birsel, Mehmet Esen and Murat Yıldırım.