sinecine ISSN: 1309-5838

Minority Films: Reconstruction of History and Collective Memory

Abstract

Through a critical analysis of the relationship between history and cinema, this article investigates whether minority films contribute to the reconstruction of the dominant discourse about the experiences of minorities and whether they are parallel with nationalist approaches to history. Through an examination of Mrs. Salkim’s Diamonds (Tomris Giritlioğlu, 1999), Waiting for the Clouds (Yeşim Ustaoğlu, 2005), 120 (Murat Saraçoğlu and Özhan Eren, 2008) and Pains of Autumn (Tomris Giritlioğlu, 2009), all films about the historical experiences of minorities in Turkey, this article problematizes whether the historical approach of these films is consistent with Schudson’s definition of the distortion of collective memory processes, i.e., distanciation, instrumentalization, narrativization, and conventionalization. Most of the popular films about minorities have been condemned for regenerating official historical theses through their modes of presentation and approaches to the facts. These films have been criticized for depicting those events as individual cases rather than systematic practices or policies of the state, thereby ascribing all the responsibility to individuals. In most cases, non-Turkish factors are blamed, suggesting that what was done to minorities was deserved. In this circumstance, these films contribute to the presentation of the history in a timid format with a partial or distorted version of the reality they represent, thus misleading a new generation who are learning about history from TV series and films. Therefore, evaluating minority films will assist in revealing the need for confronting history through critical approaches to the past.

Keywords: Minority films, minorities, cinema and history, collective memory, confronting the past.

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