“Hür Adam” (Free Man), a movie that recounts the life of Said-i Nursi, a Muslim scholar who lived in Turkey from 1876 to 1960, was screened in İstanbul on Tuesday, as the controversial biopic counts down to its Friday theatrical release.
The gala, held at the Türker İnanoğlu Maslak (TİM) Show Center, was attended by the film’s director/co-writer Mehmet Tanrısever and lead actor Mürşit Ağa Bağ as well as Nursi’s followers and other guests, the Cihan news agency reported on Wednesday.
“Hür Adam” sparked debate even before its release, with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launching an investigation into the production following a criminal complaint by lawyer Ömer Ediz Yoruz. In his complaint, alleging that the film “insults the spiritual personality of Atatürk,” the founder of the Turkish Republic, Yoruz demands that Tanrısever and co-writers Ahmet Çetin and Mehmet Uyar as well as the film’s production company, Feza Film, be put on trial. Yoruz accuses the director and screenwriters of insulting Atatürk through the use of the press, urging people to commit crimes, slander, disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization and engaging in an organized act to destroy the Republic of Turkey.
“Hür Adam” also got its share of disapproval from Turkish film critics, who slammed the movie for its rather lengthy run at 160 minutes, its being a low-quality propaganda film and a storyline that lacks energy and frequently falls into repetition.
Commenting on the criticism directed at his film ahead of the screening, Tanrısever told reporters that the recent developments proved that he actually made a good movie. “The debates show that we did a good thing. It means that some truths are being exposed, so it’s being talked about. Good results come out of debates; it is rather worrying when something is not being talked about, as that would mean there’s no democracy there.”
In the meantime, earlier on Tuesday, filmmaker/actor Gani Rüzgar Şavata filed a complaint at the Bakırköy Public Prosecutor’s Office against the director and screenwriters for “using the screenplay, for which he holds part of the copyright, without his consent.”
The dramatic biopic recounts the life story of Nursi in three phases, known to his followers as the Old Said, the New Said and the Third Said. Nursi’s writings mainly comprise letters to his students about faith and religious philosophy.
“Hür Adam” opens in Turkish theaters on Friday while it’s due for a Jan. 13 release in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Denmark and Switzerland.