POWERFUL SAT-7 TÜRK FILM TO SHOW IN CINEMAS ACROSS TÜRKIYE

SAT-7 TÜRK’s first feature-length film premieres this week following a gala event with church leaders and journalists to celebrate its release. Yakamoz marks the centenary of the momentous population exchange betweenTürkiye and Greece, told through the moving stories of two families caught up in the event. 

Representatives from every Christian denomination were invited to the gala at the cinema in Kadıköy, Istanbul, on Tuesday (25 June), ahead of the film’s premiere for the wider community on Friday (28 June). It will then be shown in cinemas all over Türkiye, and it has also been entered into a number of film festivals.  

Melih Ekener, SAT-7 TÜRK’s Executive Director, said, “This is a very exciting week for everyone at SAT-7 TÜRK and also for the whole Christian community in Türkiye, because Yakamoz showcases an important piece of the country’s Christian heritage. The film highlights how Christians have always existed and flourished in these lands together with other populations. We hope that many people in Türkiye will watch Yakamoz and grow in their understanding of the place Christians have had in the country’s past, and how people who are different can live side by side.”

From left: SAT-7 TÜRK Executive Director Melih Ekener and Yakamoz Director Ali Kerem Gülermen discussing filming on set with two cast members.

FORCED DISPLACEMENT

Yakamoz is the only film being released this year to mark the population exchange, which took place 100 years ago as part of a peace treaty between Greece and Türkiye following a three-year war. Greeks living in Türkiye and the Turks in Greece – around two million in total – were forced to relocate to their respective ancestral nations. Three quarters of all those displaced were Greek Orthodox Christians.

Yakamoz takes place in Gelveri, in the Cappadocia region of Türkiye, and focuses on two families, one Turkish, one Greek, who are caught up in the exchange. The film culminates with the emotional departure of the Greek Christian families from the village, which happened on 6 August 1924. Turkish fisherman Ismail and his family have been sent, ahead of this date, from Kavala in Greece to Gelveri, and because of their early arrival they have to live in the same house with Greek potter Dimitri and his family for a time. “Yakamoz” is the name of Ismail’s boat in the film, an object that comes to represent his dislocation as a fisherman sent to a landlocked village. The word translates as “sea sparkle”, which alludes to the coming and going of rootless people.

“Yakamoz” is the name of Ismail’s boat in the film, an object that comes to represent his dislocation as a fisherman sent to a landlocked village. The word translates as “sea sparkle”, which alludes to the coming and going of rootless people.

Initially the two families are forced together unwillingly, but as they start to understand and sympathise with each other, they find points of connection and become friends. The mothers, Eleni and Fatma, bond through their shared experience of motherhood and family trials, while the children connect through play and adventure.

The mothers, Eleni and Fatma, bond through their shared experience of motherhood and family trials.

Through the heartbreaking and occasionally humorous experiences of the two families, Yakamoz shows how it is possible for people who are from different backgrounds to live together peaceably.  

CONTEMPORARY THEMES

Director Ali Kerem Gülermen said, “The film tells about this great migration that took place exactly a century ago at a time when the themes of the ‘other’, ‘identity’, and ‘foreign’ continue to stab into people’s hearts. Yakamoz will touch the contemporary audience with its relevant themes of equality and humanity.” 

Director Ali Kerem Gülermen (left) with the crew filming a scene for Yakamoz.

SAT-7 TÜRK has collaborated with the renowned Turkish screenwriter Ali Can Yaraş, famous actors, and Greek and Turkish academics on this project. A powerful folk song, A Storm Took Us, was written and performed in Greek for the film’s soundtrack by successful Turkish artist Niran Ünsal. 

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