There is a growing storm of controversy over a Turkish action blockbuster amid claims it is anti-American and anti-Semitic. “Valley of the Wolves” depicts real and fictitious events in Iraq. Costing some eight million euros to make, it is Turkey’s most expensive film ever.
It is also the latest in a new genre of movies that demonizes the United States and so far it has been a sell-out. It opens with a real-life incident – the arrest three years ago by US troops of Turkish special force members in northern Iraq. The soliders were led away with hoods over their heads. Washington later apologised but for some the rift has not healed.
The film also depicts the real-life abuses carried out by US soliders at Abu Ghraib jail. “We should not close our ears to the screams coming out of Iraq,” said scriptwriter Bahadir Ozdener. “America has come from 10,000 kilometres away, it says, to bring democracy. We are only 200 kilometres away and I can tell you that human rights are being violated in Iraq,” he added.
However Doctor Sukran Esen of Marmara University said the movie dramatizes pictures in the press for propaganda purposes. The producers seem to have correctly judged public opinion in Turkey and inital box office takings suggest it may replicate its success across Europe.
But some German politicians have called for it to be banned. The leader of the CSU and Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber has urged cinema owners to stop screening the film, calling it “racist and anti-Western.” He has even demanded the Turkish government apologise, saying that refusing to do so could hurt Ankara’s chances of joining the European Union.
The opposition Green party has also joined the debate. Its leader Reinhard Buetikofer says “people should not be allowed to make money out of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism”.