Venice: 'The Cut' Director Plays Down Turkish Death Threats

Gordon Muehle
'The Cut'

Fatih Akin's film examines the Turkish massacre of 1 million Armenians in 1915, a genocide Turkey still denies

German-Turkish director Fatih Akin tried to play down death threats against him issued as a result of his film, The Cut, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday.

The movie looks at the Armenian genocide, the state-sponsored killing in 1915 of at least 1 million ethnic Armenians in what is now Turkey. The film is highly controversial in Turkey as the official government line is that the well-documented genocide never occurred.

Far-right nationalists in Turkey have threatened Akin and anyone associated with the film, that if The Cut is shown in Turkey, they could suffer the same fate as Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist shot down by a teenage Turkish nationalist in 2007.

But at the press conference following the film's premiere, Akin said the threats didn't surprise him. “I spent 7 or 8 years working on this movie, I had time to anticipate what the reaction would be.”

While he said he felt “art is worth dying for,” he downplayed the threat of real violence.

“You have one Tweet by some group and then it kicks off a media avalanche,” Akin said. “I'm not taking it too seriously.”

The political heat around the film, however, is only set to grow in Turkey ahead of 2105, which marks the centenary of the genocide. Despite the controversy, Akin told THR he thinks modern-day Turkey is ready for The Cut.

“Turkey has changed a lot in the last seven years (since Dink's assassination),” he said. “I have a feeling the society is open to talking about this now. It's not as much of a taboo.”