Remarkable Premiere of ´Bella´s Story´ @ Museum of Turkish Jews

The Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews is organizing a very special Zoom event on Sunday, January 31st at 18:00. The Jewish Museum will be screening the premiere of the film ´Bella´s Story´ which sheds light on Bella Eskenazi´s life, the same week she is celebrating her 98th birthday.
Dalia MAYA
Remarkable Premiere of ´Bella´s Story´ @ Museum of Turkish Jews

Translation by Janet MITRANI

Before the screening of the almost 100-minute documentary, Bella, who had been an inspiration for the famous Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık's unforgettable 'I Can't Tell (Anlatamıyorum)' poem, and the director of the film Banu Yalkut Breddermann, will also have a short conversation.

Bella Eskenazi's story leading from Istanbul to Barcelona, is inviting the viewers to a both thrilling and intriguing journey. Born in 1923, Bella had been an inspiration to the famous Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık, a close friend to the esteemed writer Sabahattin Ali, and to the highly admired songwriter, Turkish folk literature poet, and author Aşık Veysel, and the beloved teacher at the revolutionary Village Institute in Hasanoğlan district of Ankara. Based on Eskenazi's testimonies, this documentary while depicting the life of the part of Turkey defined as secular then, also wishes to shed light on Turkey's political and cultural transformation process.

One of the most important initiators of the Turkish enlightenment and social transformation process that had taken momentum by the foundation of the Turkish Republic, the Mınister of National Education Hasan Ali Yücel, had commenced a great cultural move in April 17, 1940. He had led the way to found village institutions, the enactment of the university law, include theater and opera among the government services, translation of the classic novels, and publication of various encyclopedias in Turkish.

Right around those times, Bella Eskenazi had taught at the Village Institute in Hasanoğlan district of Ankara, thus together with her sister Dora and her brother in law Erol Güney, who had been active players in the Turkish enlightenment, had the chance to be close friends with the Turkish intellectuals and scholars of the time.

In 'Bella's Story' we find the hopes and disappointments of an idealistic era of the Turkish Republic which had been founded with the idea that every citizen should have equal fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the deep understanding and love felt for this country despite everything. This documentary has been produced aiming to present an alternative point of view to religious, political, and ethnic discussions based on people's origin in our day, while thinking it might be helpful in the fight against the rising anti-Semitism.

'Bella's Story' was directed and produced by Banu Yalkut Breddermann and edited by Thomas Balkenhol. Renan Koen produced the film's music, and Eytan Ipeker prepared the promotion preview for the documentary.

The documentary will be screened in Turkish with English subtitles. To participate in this special event via Zoom you can just send an e-mail to [email protected] The participation is free of charge, however donations by the friends of the museum will be appreciated as the income sources of the museum have been limited during the pandemic.

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