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Turkey

Akin delays Turkish film on murdered Armenian journalist

Turkish-German film director Fatih Akin says a film he wants to make about the murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink remains on ice because no Turkish actor was ready to play the lead role. Dink was shot dead in 2007.

Akin, who has collected a string of German and European cinema awards over 2 decades, told Saturday's edition of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos on Saturday that the risks for Turkish actors were still too high and so he had put the project "in the freezer."

Dink was shot dead by a teenage Turkish ultranationalist on a busy Istanbul street in 2007, outside the offices of Agos.

The 52-year-old Dink had campaigned for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, who say that up to 1.5 million people were killed in 1915, during World War I, as the Ottoman Empire fell apart.

Turkey has long denied that the deaths amounted to a massacre, although in April Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke of "our shared pain."

Script 'too strong'

Akin said he had drafted a very text-rich script based on 12 of Dink's articles published in Agos.

Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink was shot in broad daylight in Istanbul

"However, I couldn't convince any actor from Turkey to accept the role of Hrant [Dink]; they all found the script too strong," Akin said.

"I didn't want to put any actor at risk, but it was also important that a film about Hrant would be a Turkish film," he added. "An American or French actor couldn't have been cast as Hrant. We have to deal with this alone."

Different entry at Venice festival

Akin said instead he combined parts of the Dink script to complete a different film, "The Cut," which will premier at Italy's Venice International Film Festival later this month.

"The Cut," starring French actor Tahar Rahim, tells the story of an Armenian man who survives the 1915 killings and embarks on a journey across the world to find his daughter.

Dink's assassination drew international attention and grew into a wider scandal with accusations of a Turkish state conspiracy.

At his funeral, an estimated 200,000 people marched, chanting "We are all Armenians."

In February this year, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Turkey as the world's leading jailer of journalists.

ipj/slk (AFP, Reuters)