Director: Mitsutoshi Tanaka (Ask This of Rikyu)
Starring: Seiyo Ichino, Shiori Kutsuna, Kenan Ece, and Yui Natsukawa
The Republic of Turkey straddles Europe and Asia. Relations between Japan and this nation, once the vast Ottoman Empire, have a long history, with 2015 marking their 125th anniversary. This motion picture reflects those deep ties in the story of two actual historical incidents. In both cases, the Japanese 125 years ago and the Turks 30 years ago, people in a difficult situation were offered help, with no thought of reward, for the simple reason that they needed it. The courage and sincerity shown in these two real-life dramas now come to the screen in a large-scale international co-production made with the comprehensive support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Turkey.
The film comprises two episodes: the wreck of the Ottoman frigate Ertuğrul in 1890, and the evacuation of Japanese nationals from Tehran in 1985. The Ertuğrul episode stars Seiyo Uchino as Tamura, the doctor who treats the shipwreck survivors, who personifies the bold yet sympathetic global outlook of a time in which Japan had only recently opened itself to the outside world. The Turkish actor Kenan Ece plays two roles: Mustafa, the Ottoman officer who survives the wreck and is moved by the kindness shown by his Japanese rescuers, and Murat, who comes to the assistance of the Japanese in the Tehran episode. Shioli Kutsuna is featured as Haru, left mute by the shock of her fiancé’s drowning, but who still functions as Tamura’s faithful assistant.
Directing is Mitsutoshi Tanaka, whose Ask This Of Rikyu won the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the 2013 Montreal World Film Festival. The long tradition of Toei Kyoto Studios vouches for the high level of technical expertise of its staff, and they have joined with Böcek Yapım, Turkey’s premier production house, to produce a film of stunning visual images.
Separated by 9,000 kilometers, the people of Japan and Turkey have fostered deep ties of friendship. In a time when people all over the world are growing steadily more suspicious of other nations over politics, economics, and religion, this is an epic of hope demonstrating how fellow-feeling between one person and another can bring about a miracle.