Five Minarets in New York
|Five Minarets in New York|
Theatrical Poster by Emrah Yücel
|Directed by||Mahsun Kırmızıgül|
|Written by||Mahsun Kırmızıgül|
|Edited by||Mustafa Presheva|
|Distributed by||Boyut Film|
|Language||Turkish & English|
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 1970's; they realize that Firat was the one that had lead them to Hadji all along.
Eventually, everyone is convinced of Hadji's innocence and he is released; but before returning back 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.
- Mahsun Kırmızıgül as Fırat
- Haluk Bilginer as Hadjı
- Mustafa Sandal as Acar
- Danny Glover as Marcus
- Gina Gershon as Maria
- Robert Patrick as Becker
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.
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.
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.
The film opened in 700 screens across Turkey on November 5, 2010at number one in the Turkish box office chart with an opening weekend gross of US$4,882,738.
|Date||Territory||Screens||Rank||Opening Weekend||Total Gross|
|November 5, 2010||Turkey||700||1||US$4,882,738||US$19,762,166|
|November 4, 2010||Germany||59||9||US$772,026||US$2,440,807|
|November 5, 2010||Austria||9||7||US$127,661||US$337,817|
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.
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."
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