Turkey’s Oscar nominee ‘Ayla’ brings Korean War memories

Turkey’s Oscar nominee ‘Ayla’ brings Korean War memories

Ahu ÖZYURT
Turkey’s Oscar nominee ‘Ayla’ brings Korean War memories


In a very difficult period for Turkey’s international public relations, movies are becoming a life vest. For the first time in October, there will be a “Turkish Film Festival” in Los Angeles and Turkey’s Oscar nominee for foreign language film, “Ayla” will be the highlight.

“Ayla: The Daughter of War” is perhaps Turkey’s boldest attempt so far for the Oscar statuette. It is a true story about a Turkish soldier and a little girl in the Korean War. 

As a member of the Turkish Armed Forces who participated in the Korean War in the 1950s, Lieutenant Süleyman Dilbirliği found a girl who had lost both her parents during the war. He took care of her and named her “Ayla.” 

After 15 months of friendship, Dilbirliği had to return to Turkey. He fought the Korean bureaucracy to take Ayla with him but failed. The little girl had to be taken from him and put into an orphanage. But they both promised to find each other.

Dilbirliği and Ayla’s story made headlines in 2010 during the Korean President’s visit. The state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), produced a documentary about Turkish soldiers in the Korean War and Dilbirliği’s story became public. They came together in tears and spoke about what they had lived through.
 
(To watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2Rqxe0wRDA)

Similar to all other Turkish nominees for Oscars that receive government support, “Ayla” is not free from controversy. Screenplay writer, Yiğit Güralp, recently criticized the production team for blocking him on social media and keeping him away from the entire PR process. 

“For four years, I did not have a single, peaceful, healthy day. But I am not going to write anything more. ‘Ayla’ belongs to the audience now,” he wrote on Instagram. 

As the Academy rules dictate, Ayla’s story will first be launched in Turkey on Sept. 8 for a limited screening. Then, for a very special occasion, the 60th Anniversary of the Turkish soldiers’ landing in Busan, “Ayla” will be going to South Korea for a wide public relations campaign during October and then to Los Angeles.

Directed by Can Ülkay, “Ayla: The Daughter of War,” has İsmail Hacıoğlu and Çetin Tekindor as the leading male actors who play the young and elderly Dilbirliği.

Korean actresses Kim Seol and Lee Kyung-Jin play the young and adult Ayla, respectively. Cade Carradine and Eric Roberts are among the other supporting roles.

Ayla’s nomination and public relations efforts will be supported by Turkish Airlines as the main sponsor. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry will also be main supporter of the public relations campaign.

Click here for Ayla’s trailer.