During my trip to Turkey I have came across these big movie billboards for Selam. The reason it caught my attention was because there has never been so much advertising done for a Turkish film around the country like this. I decided to take a closer look to this film, and it is full great accomplishments and firsts in the Turkish film industry. Selam has the highest budget of any Turkish film with one of 2 million dollars. I would like to point out that while lots of imprisonments of free thinkers and artists are going around in Turkey, what makes this film so different that it is even advertised considering the fact it carries a political and religious approach?
The answer is to this question is the fact that this is both a political and religious film, which makes it different than other films that never made it to the big screen this year. The movie was shot on 4 different continents with three different background stories. The plot brings out the idea of “Muslim Unity”. The suggested idea is: “No matter where we are or who we are, we all share the same religion”. It brings along a numer of questions, as this same ideology is what the government has been pressing on the Turkish Republic with their Islamic approach on political matters.
The camera work is really professional, and the plot has a consistent flow. The ideas are not told in a straight forward way; rather, they are portrayed through mise-en-scene. The cuts between different scenes are through transition shots of mosques in Istanbul and around the world. The audience is directed to think that even though the story takes place in different countries, the mosque and religion is what brings them together. Whereas this might be seen as a uniting figure of Islam, it is also a separation for Turkish people. Even though Turkey is identified as one of the biggest Muslim countries, many of the citizens carry different religions and beliefs.
Selam is director Levent Demirkale’s first film. He has a fairly unsuccessful background, having previous directed the TV series “Kız babası” (Father of a Girl) and his latest work “Altın Kızlar” (Golden Girls), which failed to achieve a continuing spot in the industry.
After his visit to Fethullah Gülen, who has a cult and religious communities around USA, Demirkale has decided on his plot, which was inspired from these schools around USA that give religious lessons. What is important about is that Gülen has been imprisoned in Turkey for manipulating people by using religion.
This is a highly controversial film, and it raises lots of questions about cults, the manipulation of Islam, and”‘puppeteers” of governments.