Shortly after the Australian release of Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner, the Greek Genocide Resource Center initiated a worldwide email protest against the film. The protest was largely an effort to address the huge public outcry that was evident as a result of the gross distortions in the film which glorified the perpetrator of genocide, namely Turkey. The protest was reported by several websites worldwide and featured in a Fairfax Media newspaper article by the paper's National Film Editor Karl Quinn (Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner faces deluge of protest ahead of US opening).
The Draft Letter
Dear [insert your name]
I am writing this letter to express my shock at the false portrayal of historical events in the Russell Crowe film 'The Water Diviner'. The film is presented as being ‘inspired by actual events’, but as a person whose family has been deeply affected by the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Government during that period (1914-1923), I can say that the events in the movie are far from the truth. In fact, they are a gross distortion of it.
In May of 2013, the New South Wales Parliament officially recognized the mass killing of Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians during that period as an act of genocide. Similar recognitions have occurred throughout the world condemning the acts as genocide. Geoffrey Robertson QC has for years been calling on Turkey to recognize its past, using the term 'genocide' to describe the events. Turkey has continuously denied committing genocide, while the rest of the world has been recognizing it.
So how can a film such as The Water Diviner be made? How can a film show the exact opposite? How can Russell Crowe direct a film in which he portrays Greeks as satanic, while he portrays the Turks as victims? Just two weeks before the ANZAC landings, some 32,000 indigenous Greeks living in the Gallipoli peninsula were forcibly deported by the Ottoman Turkish government, and many died of harsh conditions. Other Greeks of Asia Minor such as those from Livissi (today Kayakoy) were also victims of the genocidal campaign during that period. Ironically, the final scenes in the movie were shot at the current ghost town of Livissi, Turkey.
In 1919, the Greek Army was sent to the western Ottoman port city of Smyrna (Izmir) via a British mandate, to protect the remaining Christian population in Anatolia from further massacre. When Greek forces landed, the Christians saw them as liberators. During and after WW1, the international media widely reported Turkish massacres against Greeks and Armenians. The methods used included mass killings, death marches, rape, forced conversion to Islam and confiscation of property amongst others.
On April 24, 1915, just one day prior to the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli, the Ottoman government rounded up some 240 Armenian intellectuals and most were killed. By 1923, over half of the Armenian population (1.5 million people) was massacred, along with some 1 million Greeks, and several hundred thousand Assyrians. All these events were happening during the time period of the scenes depicted in The Water Diviner, yet Russell Crowe managed to paint the Turks as victims.
The Water Diviner is a film that offends the descendants of genocide victims and should therefore be condemned. If a film depicting Adolf Hitler as a hero and the Jews as terrorists were made, the reaction would be one of shock and outrage. Russell Crowe's film is a distortion of history that only serves to appease Turkey and its continued agenda of genocide denial.
Regards [your name]
EMAILS WERE ADDRESSED TO:
eOne PRODUCTION HOUSE:
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS:
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD:
THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER:
A CURRENT AFFAIR:
NATIONAL FILM EDITOR. FAIRFAX MEDIA: