Five Minarets in New York

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Five Minarets in New York
Five Minarets in New York Theatrical Poster.jpg
Theatrical Poster by Emrah Yücel
Directed byMahsun Kırmızıgül
Produced by
  • Murat Tokat
  • Mevlut Akkaya
Written byMahsun Kırmızıgül
Music by
CinematographyJim Gucciardo
Edited byMustafa Presheva
Boyut Film
Distributed byBoyut Film
Release date
  • November 5, 2010 (2010-11-05)
Running time
117 minutes
United States
LanguageTurkish & English
Budget$20 million
Box officeTurkish lira symbol 8x10px.png190.403.534 $64.53 million

Five Minarets in New York (Turkish: New York’ta Beş Minare), released as Act of Vengeance in the U.S. and as The Terrorist in Australia, is a Turkish action film written and directed by Mahsun Kırmızıgül, which follows two Turkish police officers sent to New York City to bring back a terrorist suspect. The film, which went on nationwide general release across Turkey on November 5, 2010, was one of the highest-grossing Turkish films of 2010. The title comes from the popular Kurdish folk song, "Bitlis'te Beş Minare" (meaning Five Minarets in Bitlis).[1]


The film, which director Mahsun Kırmızıgül wrote the story and the screenplay of for around 11 years before production commenced, was shot from April to June 2010 on location in New York City, United States and Istanbul, Turkey with an estimated budget of US$20 million.[2][3][4][5]

Cinematographer Jim Gucciardo shot the film in Anamorphic 35mm using an Arricam LT with Hawk Anamorphic V series lenses as the main “A” camera as well as a 1-Arri 435 for high speed sequences and a 1-Arri 235 for handheld and special Steadicam sequences. Iraqi American production designer, John El Manahi was brought on to bring authenticity to the visual style of the sets and the complex action sequences.[6]


The film follows two anti-terror officers from Istanbul, sent to New York City to find and bring back a Turkish religious man named Hadji, who they suspect is the man they've codenamed Dajjal, a terrorist who is responsible for attacks in Turkey.

Hadji is arrested in the United States, in his home in New York City by FBI agents during prayer. His Christian wife, Maria, and American friend, Marcus (a devout Muslim convert), as well as close friends and family do what they can to protect Hadji, who they faithfully believe is innocent.

Hadji is on the Interpol list, which is what lead to his arrest, but he has no criminal history in the US, so he is being extradited back to Turkey instead. Acar and Firat are the two Turkish agents who are escorting him back. Acar is fluent in English and gets angry at FBI senior agent, Becker, for his hostility over all Muslims and the Islamic faith.

The film focuses on Islamophobia in Turkey and the United States after September 11 attacks, seeking to answer the question of whether innocence or guilt even matters to one who lusts for vengeance.[7][8]

In a plot twist, Hadji is the innocent devout Moslem man that he always claimed to be, while Firat who was so sure of Hadji's guilt, must come to terms with his deadly mistake in seeking vengeance in the end.

As the movie develops, Acar starts to also believe in Hadji's innocence and tries to get Firat to admit to himself that he got the wrong man, but Firat refuses to accept that he has the wrong man.

Back in Turkey, the real terrorist leaders are eventually caught, and the other agents discovered that Firat's father was supposedly killed by Hadji back in the 1970s; they realize that Firat was the one that had led them to Hadji all along.

Eventually, everyone is convinced of Hadji's innocence and he is released; but before returning to the US he wants to see his old mother again in his hometown. Firat and Acar insist on taking him and Maria themselves as a show of apology for the ordeal they've put on Hadji and his family and friends.

After reuniting with his mother and sitting outside her home, as he's introducing Maria and the two Turkish agents to his mom, Firat's grandfather shoots Hadji dead, which prompts Acar to automatically shoot the grandfather dead as well.



US-based Turkish graphic artist Emrah Yücel designed the theatrical poster for the film, which features New York's signature skyline in the background with minarets rising among skyscrapers. Headshots of the film's leading cast were also added in a revised version.[9]

Teasers showing Mahsun Kırmızıgül and Mustafa Sandal running around the streets of New York City with footage of a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama, planes crashing into the World Trade Center and a group of Muslims praying in Central Park, managed to shock and raise anticipation in Turkish Audiences.[1]

The film was shown to distribution company officials at the American Film Market in Los Angeles, where, according to the international distributor Yarek Danielak, "We received more interest than we expected. We will invite Kırmızıgül to the U.S. for the film’s screening in the country. Everyone seeing the film is curious about its director." "Besides three American distributors, the film received great interest from many distributors throughout the world", and has also been sold to Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.[3][10]


Press screening[edit]

A special press screening in Istanbul and Ankara was scheduled for November 1, 2010 (2010-11-01) but was canceled allegedly at the instigation of director and star Mahsun Kırmızıgül because of the criticism of the Turkish Cinema Writers Association to his two previous films.[3][11]

General release[edit]

The film opened in 700 screens across Turkey on November 5, 2010 (2010-11-05) at number one in the Turkish box office chart with an opening weekend gross of US$4,882,738.[12]

Opening weekend and total gross by region
Date Territory Screens Rank Opening Weekend Total Gross
November 5, 2010 (2010-11-05) Turkey 700 1 US$4,882,738 US$19,762,166
November 4, 2010 (2010-11-04) Germany 59 9 US$772,026 US$2,440,807
November 5, 2010 (2010-11-05) Austria 9 7 US$127,661 US$337,817


Box office[edit]

The movie was at number one at the Turkish box office for four weeks and has made a total gross of US$19,762,166 in Turkey and US$20,948,284 worldwide.[12]


Today's Zaman reviewer Emine Yıldırım describes Mahsun Kırmızıgül as, "a director of noble intentions", who, "really tries so hard to do right by his political convictions, which can be summed up as equality, peace against violence, rage over the innocent lives taken by Middle Eastern conflicts and an obstinate stand against Islamic fundamentalism." But, "It’s almost like you’re not watching a movie but listening to an oration during a campaign by a political figure", and, "his characters are not genuine characters but are cardboard avatars of the actor-director-screenwriter voicing his opinions in blatant dialogues that lack any kind of sophistication or notion of literary value." Yıldırım does however single out Haluk Bilginer for praise by stating that, "Despite the script, he still comes off clean as one of the most talented and charismatic Turkish actors of his generation. He is the sole reason that anyone should watch this movie", and, "his performance duly delivers what Kırmızıgül cannot achieve through his script: the notion of being pious without being oppressive, a peace-loving person motivated by compassion and openness." Of Kırmızıgül himself Yıldırım writes, "the man does have a peculiar screen charisma, and he knows really well that mass Turkish audiences love macho-fueled simplified revenge fantasies of oppressed groups and grandiose melodramas. Of course, at the end of the day, box office numbers will prove if this thesis is correct", and "I still have hopes that one day these underlying good intentions will lead to decent cinema."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Güler, Emrah (2010-07-16). "Turkish cinema hopes to cash in on political turmoil". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  2. ^ "Oscar hopeful Mahsun Kırmızıgül rolls up sleeves for new film". Today's Zaman. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  3. ^ a b c "Kırmızıgül's latest film attracting interest from beyond Turkey". Hürriyet Daily News. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  4. ^ "Filming locations for Five Minarets in New York". IMDB. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  5. ^ "Box office / business for Five Minarets in New York". IMDB. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  6. ^ Perlman, Matthew (2010-07-15). "5 Minarets in New York". Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  7. ^ Five Minarets in New York, IMDb Plot Summary. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  8. ^ Bitlis locals watch 'Five Minarets in New York'
  9. ^ "Yücel designing poster for Kırmızıgül's 'Five Minarets in New York'". Today's Zaman. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  10. ^ Kay, Jeremy (2010-11-06). "Arsenal Pictures closes territories on Five Minarets In New York". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  11. ^ a b Yıldırım, Emine (2010-11-06). "Kırmızıgül's crusade for cinematic didactics continues in 'Five Minarets'". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  12. ^ a b "Five Minarets in New York". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-12-10.

External links[edit]