Lost Freedom: Turkish movie puts clandestine counter-guerrilla operation in the spotlight
“Lost Freedom”, directed by Umur Hozatli, is based on true incidents. It's a depressing, yet realistic piece on a dark chapter of contemporary Turkish history.
The film begins with the abduction of a terror suspect in Turkish territory by the secretly operating counter-guerrilla organisation, JITEM. According to the film, in the 1990s, the Kurds fought a desperate guerrilla war against governmental repression and JITEM performed state-sponsored illegal and inhuman activities, backed by the security forces. The terror suspect Deniz has a slim to none chance of survival when he is taken to the interrogation centre. His tormentors act in the cruelest way, promising him freedom if he reveals the secrets of his organisation. But he keeps his mouth shut. So he gets tortured -- by waterboarding, electrocution and more -- during the whole span of the film. The tragedy and the senselessness of every such action are shown in a very disturbing way.
Meanwhile, to make things even more complicated, the torturer falls for his captive's sister, as they both sit by the hospital beds of their dying fathers. Neither knows each other's identity or how they are associated with Deniz.
The cast includes Serdar Kavak, Vedat Percin, Musa Yildirim and Oznur Kula.
The families of the abducted had waited too long for justice. However, eventually the secrets of JITEM were revealed, and some of those responsible were sentenced. “The current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is interested to find out what happened to the lost ones,” said the film's co-producer Mehmet Ali Arlsan, after the screening at the Dhaka International Film Festival 2012.
“Lost Freedom” is the first film to hold JITEM accountable and openly criticise the organisation. “But in the end, 'Lost Freedom' is a film against violence in every way,” Arslan added. When the film was shown in various theatres across Turkey, it provoked a new debate on the fate of the abducted, and those involved in the crimes against humanity. The Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) estimates that between 1989 and 2008, JITEM was involved in 5,000 killings -- of journalists, human rights activists, intellectuals and political activists -- and was responsible for 1,500 cases of disappearances.