At the opening of Turkish film "Fetih 1453" (conquest) on Monday, prominent Egyptian political figures and intellectuals including former MP Amr El-Shobaky, writer Adel Hammouda and politician Mostafa El-Fiqi, mixed with attendees flipping through brochures advertising Istanbul and learning the Turkish language.
The lobby of Cairo's Golden Stars cinema complex was brimming with members of the media anticipating celebrities. Representatives of the Turkish Embassy and the chairman of the Turkish Cultural Centre in Cairo warmly welcome a stream of incoming guests. However, the event was conspicuously missing Egyptian film industry personalities.
The guest list reflects Turkish perception of the importance of cinema as a tool of soft power for the country’s foreign policy. This is particularly the case since the film glorifies the image of a strong and powerful Turkey through a key historical event: the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mohamed II in 1453 AD.
The film begins with Prophet Mohamed’s prophecy of the conquest of Constantinople, followed by scenes that confirm that Sultan Mohamed or Mehmet II was destined to fulfill the prophecy.
The sultan is adamant on conquering the Byzantine capital of Constantinople and opening it to the Ottomans, despite warnings given to him by his ministers about the dangerous nature of the battles ahead.
At the launch, guests rush to be photographed with the film’s stars, as if greeting long-lost friends: the movie has clearly bought the Turkish actors to the attention of an Egyptian audience.
Starring Turkish actors Devrim Evin, Ibrahim Celikkol, Dilek Serbest and Cengiz Coskun, the team started filming in September 2009. The historical epic written by Irfan Saruhan and Atilla Engin and directed by Faruk Aksoy, was eventually completed in January 2012 and so far has yielded US $33 in profit.
Produced with a huge budget that topped US $17 million, the film elaborately depicts the fierce battles between the Byzantines and the Ottomans. It is screened with Egyptian subtitles in Cairo and will be screened in English in Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, and Kuwait.
People would not necessarily jointly praise the artistic proficiency of the film but the truth remains that Fetih 1453 carries a significant message of power and prominence from Turkey to the world, consolidating its image as one of the foremost powers in the region.
The quality of Turkish art has ensured the country is a key player in the region's culture scene. This rise to prominence has inevitable implications not only on the artistic front, but also in the realms of economy and politics.
Director: Faruk Aksoy
Main cast: Devrim Evin, Ibrahim Celikkol, Dilek Serbest and Cengiz Coskun
Release date: In cinemas now
This movie is currently playing at: Golden Stars Cinema (VIP), Galaxy, Stars Cinema, Golden Stars Cinema (Deluxe), Family Cinema