You may ask yourself what Robin Williams has to do with story telling in Anatolia. Obviously, this is not the actor everybody knows, but rather the filmmaker: Robin D. Williams. If you see him on stage, you can easily think that he is a famous actor who resembles actors of the Spencer Tracy or Charlton Heston era. With his well built physique of 6 2," grayish hair and the voice of a tenor, he has complete control and attention of the audience.
I met Robin Williams for the first time last October, when he came to Columbus to introduce his film: Biblical Treasures of Turkey to the Turkish-American audiences. The event, which was sponsored by TAACO, took place in the auditorium of a local high school and was well attended with more than 200 people.
The state of the art digital film was shown on the big screen and was a visual feast from beginning to end. The breath taking scenes of Anatolia, were scored to hauntingly beautiful music and a complete range of sound effects As he does with all his movies, he introduced the movie to the audience and made brief live narrations before the intermission and at the end. With the lights turned off, one could not tell if the narrator was talking in the movie or live in person. After the movie, Robin spent time with the audience, answering questions about Turkey and signed video cassettes of his movies.
Biblical Treasures of Turkey is the story of the twenty-nine or so civilizations, which once lived on this beautiful land of ours called Turkey and contributed to the well being of humankind. In Biblical Treasures you will not only meet mythological Greek gods, but also real people who shaped the history. Herodotus, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, King Midas to name a few. At times you will travel with Marco Polo, or live with St. Paul in his home at Ephesus. You will travel to Nicea, where the first Ecumenical Council took place or visit Virgin Mary's house in Selçuk. Have you ever wondered about the Noah's Ark, The Story about Gordion's Knot or Abraham's birth place? You have the answers in this movie.
The Biblical Treasures of Turkey is a treat for students of history, teachers and archaeologists. Robin's movie is not a religious program as he himself explains it. They are discoveries that match the historical account as told by the travelers. Talking about travel, what Williams contributes to tourism in Turkey cannot be measured in monetary terms. The American audiences are watching the brilliant scenery of Bosporus, Black Sea, Bodrum, Antalya through Williams's magic camera.
Years ago there was a TV commercial on the American television: Ziraat. It was showing the historical and touristic sites in Turkey and was sponsored by the famous Agricultural State Bank of Turkey. The State Bank probably spent millions of dollars to put this commercial on the American TV. I doubt that they got their return on investment.
I strongly encourage every Turkish-American Association in the United States and Turkey, to bring this movie to their hometown and show it to their audiences. Turkey's Ministry of Tourism should take a close look at this film. Turkey's high ranking politicians need to recognize the importance of this film especially now Turkey is on the brink of joining the European Union. At troubled times like this, where Turkey is filling the gap between the east and the west and shining as a role model of religious tolerance and freedom, every Turk should be proud of their country.
To me Robin Williams is a true friend of Turkey who deserves recognition. He is not only a talented film maker, but also a story teller of the modern era. As we all know, the Anatolian story tellers are called "Aşik"." Aşik" or “one who is in love” is the one who loves the creator and tells his story by wandering from city to city. Aşik stories are often accompanied by the string instrument "saz". Karacaoğlan, Yunus Emre and Aşik Veysel are the most famous of Aşiks.
Williams is the Anatolian Aşik who tells his story in America. He travels from Seattle to Ohio, from Florida to Michigan. His story is digital and visual, his music is beautiful. He tells the story of Anatolia to audiences across the country. They say behind every great man there is a great woman. Rosetta, his Italian wife is the editor and the person who puts the scenes and music together. Currently, they are preparing to show their new movie: Biblical Treasures of Turkey-Part 2 in Chicago, which includes the story of Santa Clause.
Once again, I like to recognize and thank Robin for his film and being a true friend of Turkey.
SELAM SANA AŞIK.
President, TAACO (Turkish American Association of Ohio)
BIBLICAL TREASURES of TURKEY
ROBIN WILLIAMS FILMS, P.O.Box 1806 Laguna Beach, CA 92652, Telephone: 949-494-3307, Fax: 949-494-2459, E-mail: email@example.com
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