A recently released Turkish-American film production The Ottoman Lieutenant has come under fire for its denial of the Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian genocide by the Ottoman forces in the beginning of 20th century.
The Ottoman Lieutenant is a Turkish-American ‘World War I’ drama film directed by Joseph Ruben and written by Jeff Stockwell. The film stars Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett and Ben Kingsley. The film was released for an Oscar-qualifying run in December 2016 and was released widely on March 10, 2017.
The Ottoman Lieutenant received mostly negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 21%, with an average rating of 3.6/10.
Several critics have noted the fact that the film perpetuates the denial of the Armenian Genocide. In his review for Variety Dennis Harvey writes, “[In] this primarily Turkish-funded production, the historical, political, ethnic and other intricacies — not to mention that perpetual elephant in the room, the Armenian Genocide, which commenced in 1915 — are glossed over in favor of a generalized ‘Whattaya gonna do… war is bad’ aura that implies conscience without actually saying anything.”
On March 7, 2017, the Armenian Youth Federation Western United States issued a statement, urging the public not to watch the film in theaters or support it in any way. “[We] do feel it is important for our community to be aware of the fact that genocide denial is present and still a major issue, even outside of the Republic of Turkey,” read a part of the statement.
A week later, the American Hellenic Council (AHC) released a statement, urging the Greek American community and all descendants of the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide, to boycott The Ottoman Lieutenant.
“The film is a blatant attempt to repudiate the upcoming movie, The Promise, and mislead impressionable youth into believing the Genocide was a ‘two-sided’ event,” reads a part of the statement.
Signed by AHC Executive Director Ioannis Fidanakis, the statement also calls for the public to join an AYF-initiated letter writing campaign to local theaters to educate them about the purpose of this film.
Following is the statement:
We, the American Hellenic Council (AHC), in solidarity with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western United States, urge the Greek-American community, as well all descendants of the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide, to jointly boycott the recently released film, The Ottoman Lieutenant.
The movie, which was produced by a Turkish production company, was released on March 10 and stars Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, and Ben Kingsley, is set in Ittihadist Turkey at the time of the Genocide. The film is a blatant attempt to repudiate the upcoming movie, The Promise, and mislead impressionable youth into believing the Genocide was a “two-sided” event.
Although we at the AHC, acknowledge that Ottoman Turks were affected by the state of war throughout the Empire, like all Ottoman citizens, their suffering cannot be equated with a systematic campaign of extermination, which befell the native Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian peoples of Eastern Thrace and Anatolia.
Therefore, we ask the Greek-American community to refrain from paying to watch this film in theaters or supporting it in any way. Those interested in joining an AYF-initiated letter writing campaign to local theaters to educate them about the purpose of this film should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Hellenic Council
The Assyrian genocide refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian population of the Ottoman Empire and those in neighbouring Persia by Ottoman troops during the First World War, in conjunction with the Armenian and Greek genocides.
Slaughtered Pontus Greeks
PS what exactly is Sir Ben Kingsley doing in this film?