A 100-year-old cut.
Fatih Akın’s film “Kesik (The Cut)” about the Armenian Genocide made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last month. Critics cut and tore the movie to shreds. Negative criticism piled up. But, just as many people loved the movie. For me, I watched the film not as a journalist but as an Armenian.
My advice to you before seeing “The Cut” is to let go of all expectations and prejudices. Yes, I know. Armenians are waiting for a movie that reflects their suffering. But suffering of this magnitude and 100 years of denial couldn’t fit into one movie.
If it did, however, this is how it would look.
That’s why I suggest putting aside opinions, social masks, and preconceived notions. Watch “The Cut” together with your loved ones, those who you can trust with your emotions.
Martin Mardik, the Armenian scenarist of the film who was born in Iran in 1936, said the following during the press conference in Venice: “Not every incident that you see in the movie happened to the same person, but that does not mean they did not happen.” Simon Apkarian, the Armenian star, said: “This is the movie Armenians have been anticipating for a long time.” Fatih Akın added the following to Apkarian’s words during my interview with him: “What Simon meant is, Armenians have been expecting this face-off from a Turkish director… I made this movie for the Turkish audience.”
Festival visitors laughed as I cried. Upon the film’s premiere, criticism abounded on international movie review websites, including those that deemed the movie “Fatih Akın’s disaster.”
It’s Aug. 31, at the 8 p.m. screening. Full house. There are at least 2,000 of us watching.
The film’s protagonist, Nazaret Manoogian, is a knife sharpener by profession. This genocide story that begins in Mardin follows his daughters through the deserts of the Middle East (where massacres and immigration continue) to Europe, then to Cuba and North America. When Manoogian loses his voice after his throat is cut, the 100-year-old silent cry of the Armenians becomes more perceptible.
At one part of the journey, Manoogian finds out from an Armenian man in Cuba that his daughters have moved to the United States. The expression on his face upon hearing this, as well as the desperation growing inside him, made me feel lost and helpless, while some European critics (I won’t name names) made fun of the scene. They probably thought, “This is too exaggerated.”
But it wasn’t.
That just tells me how distant they are to what was experienced in 1915.
That’s the difference between our perspectives. To some Armenians, this movie will feel like a documentary; but to the majority, it will feel like stories from their ancestors. They will see an image behind almost every story.
Some will ask, “Why are these people not speaking Armenian?” (Akın wanted to be able to personally manage the dialogues.) Others will Europeanize feelings asking, “Is this how we hug people in the Middle East?” But that’s not the real issue.
In my interview with him, Akın credited slain Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink: “Hrant gave me courage and opened my mind on this topic.”
Akin also said: “Many people in Turkey still don’t know what took place back then… Massacres in the Middle East continue because we failed to express the sufferings of 100 years ago sufficiently.”
So, go in to see this movie without prejudices or expectations. If you are Turkish, take an Armenian friend with you. And if you are Armenian, take a Turkish friend.
We’re going to close our cuts ourselves.
This Article is published on ArmenianWeekly website: