Every year, hordes of tourists from Turkey, Australia and New Zealand travel to Gallipoli, or Çanakkale, as the peninsula is called in Turkish. They go there to commemorate the soldiers who died during one of the largest battles of the First World War. One side refers to their fallen as ‘heroes’, the other calls them ‘martyrs’. This shows how different the narratives are. To Turkish visitors, it’s a pilgrimage; to Australians, a holiday.

Video artist Köken Ergun, whose work is often about the role of ritual in communities, spent two years among the many tourists. He interviews people at the monuments and cemeteries, rides the coaches where guides tell their stories and shows the melodramatic, patriotic plays the Turkish government organises. Gradually it becomes apparent how these narratives are used to fan the flames of nationalism.

Original title
Şehitler
Filmmaker
Köken Ergun
Premiere
World premiere
Country
Turkey, Australia
Year
2019
Medium
DCP
Length
88’
Language
Turkish, English
Producer
Köken Ergun
Sales
Köken Ergun
Cinematography
Batu Tezyüksel
Editor
Köken Ergun
Sound Design
Candaş Erdener