SAT-7 TÜRK’s documentary The Cross and the Wolf, which tells the story of the Christian ethnic Turkish Gagauz people, has been awarded the Cultural Heritage award at the 2021 Universe Multicultural Film Festival. The film is a powerful act of representation and remembrance of a Christian history and culture that is usually overlooked in Turkey.

“The most important feature of this documentary is that we emphasise that Christianity is not a foreign belief for Turks. By broadcasting the film on SAT-7 TÜRK, we share this truth with viewers not only in Turkey, but also in every place we can reach through satellite,” says Melih Ekener, Executive Director of SAT-7 TÜRK.

“We, and the production team, were very happy to hear that our documentary was deemed worthy of this award. It is especially meaningful to receive the prize for Cultural Heritage, because even though Christianity is perceived as a foreign influence in the country we live in, it is in fact a part of Turks’ cultural heritage,” he continues.

The Cross and the Wolf was awarded the prize at the Universe Multicultural Film Festival in California, United States, on 28 October 2021. The film introduces Turkish-speaking viewers to the Gagauz people, a small nation of approximately 250,000 ethnic Turks, now mostly living in the southern regions of Moldova. The Gagauz embraced Orthodox Christianity and have maintained their faith and traditions for centuries, even when under immense pressure from the Ottoman Empire and following their forcible resettlement from Turkey to the Balkans in 1922.

“I am one of the Gagauz people. The Gagauz were Christians; they still are Christians. They protected their language and faith. They held on to God in every difficulty. Our families helped us and passed on to us our faith. We try to convey this faith to those who come after us; to our children, so that they know that God was, is, and is to come,” says Ivan Kilçik, one of many heartfelt speakers in the film.

The Cross and the Wolf, with its visually beautiful storytelling, is one of many SAT-7 TÜRK productions that aim to show viewers Turkey’s rich Christian heritage stretching back to the early Church. This history is often forgotten in today’s Turkey, a country where only around 150,000 of the 80 million-strong population are Christians. The misconception that their faith is a foreign import contributes to the isolation of Christians, especially ethnic Turkish believers.

“By filming the Gagauzian Church and its society, we want to show our audiences that Christianity isn’t scary. We want to show that the Christian faith has roots in this part of the region that go far back. Taking into consideration the sensitivities of the society we live in, we want to express that Turks can be Christians,” Producer Bora Taştan said during production.

As well as helping address this misconception in wider society, the documentary is an encouragement to Christians in Turkey who take heart from knowing the heritage of their faith in the country, and from the example of the Gagauz.

The Cultural Heritage prize is the second prize won by the documentary since its release in 2019. In 2020, SAT-7 TÜRK received a plaque from the Gagauz Friendship Culture and Solidarity Association for their work on the documentary The Cross and the Wolf.

SAT-7 TÜRK was awarded the prize by the U.S.-based Universe Multicultural Film Festival 2021

“Since the first day of broadcasting, we have placed importance on quality, both in terms of content and technique, within the possibilities at our disposal,” says Ekener. “When we are given more opportunities in the future, we aim to promote SAT-7 by entering such productions into secular film festivals.”

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