'Anti-Jewish' Turkish film pulled from US theaters

A Turkish film featuring a venal, bloodstained Jewish doctor has been withdrawn from screening in the United States.

By TOM TUGEND
February 18, 2010 11:40
2 minute read.
busee film 88 298

busee film 88 298. (photo credit: Pana Films)

 
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A Turkish film featuring a venal, bloodstained Jewish doctor has been withdrawn from screening in the United States. In Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, American actor Gary Busey portrays a Jewish doctor in the American army who cuts out the organs of Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison and sells them to wealthy clients in New York, London and Tel Aviv. The film, a blockbuster hit in its native country, had been scheduled to open Friday at two theaters in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. In early November, however, Valley of the Wolves was quietly dropped from the theaters' advance schedules. Gregory Gardner of Luminous Velocity Releasing, a company involved in distributing the film in the United States, said that the Turkish producer, Pana Films, had withdrawn the movie without explanation. Attempts to obtain further information from American or Turkish sources were unsuccessful, but a protest filed by the Anti-Defamation League may have played a role in the cancellation. In an October 19 letter to Nabi Sensoy, Turkey's ambassador to the US, ADL leaders expressed concern at "the incendiary anti-Jewish and anti-American themes and characters in the film" and pointed to previous inquiries about the wide availability of anti-Semitic publications in Turkey. The letter was signed by ADL national chair Barbara B. Balser and national director Abraham Foxman, who did not receive a reply from the ambassador. The movie's Busey character, listed in the credits only as "The Doctor" but clearly identified as Jewish, isn't even the chief villain. That distinction goes to another American actor, Billy Zane, who plays a rogue American officer and self-professed "peacekeeper sent by God." In one scene, he and his men shoot up an Iraqi wedding party, killing the groom in the presence of the bride and a little boy in front of his mother. Valley of the Wolves was shown at the Berlin Film Festival and has played in theaters in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Bosnia. The film and its Jewish doctor sparked some controversy in Germany. According to one Turkish diplomat, who spoke unofficially and requested anonymity, the film became a hit in Turkey because it is a spinoff from the country's top-rated TV series of the same title, though the television show's villains are local mafiosos and militant ultra-nationalists. The movie is also seen by Turks as payback for the 1978 film Midnight Express, in which some Americans and Britons are caught trying to leave Turkey with a stash of hashish, thrown into a hellish prison and viciously mistreated. One Turkish newspaper wrote, Valley of the Wolves is our revenge for Midnight Express.

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