Red carpet movie premieres can be so formulaic — glamorous starlets walk on a rug as lightbulbs flash — yawn. What better way to break up the uniformity of a red carpet event than with men dressed in Nazi uniforms? Not to mention a simulated concentration camp, a few German Shepherds, and a pile of baby dolls stacked like Jewish corpses.
‘Çiçero,’ a Turkish film that tells the story of Turkish citizen-turned-Nazi spy Elyesa Bazna, premiered on January 16 at a splashy event designed to resemble a concentration camp. Images that have spread across social media in the weeks since the premiere show stars clasping arms and preening for cameras on a red carpet lined with imitation barbed wire fences, behind which stand men dressed in fake Nazi paraphernalia complete with panting German Shepherds.
Ne yazık ki yeni değilmiş 16 Ocak’taki Gala’da “Temerküz Kampı” içeriği ile Gala yapmışlar. Nazi cehaleti sırasında acımasızca hayatını kaybeden insanların aziz ruhlarının üzerinde tepinmektir bu! #Cicero! pic.twitter.com/G7crBCbz7Z— Murad Çobanoğlu (@muradcobanoglu) January 30, 2019
Here and there, photos show striped uniforms caught on barbed wire, as if captured by the spikes as prisoners tried desperately to escape the camp. Dotted along the carpet loomed guard towers manned by dressed-up soldiers standing against sham machine guns. Down among the actors feet lay a pile of shoes.
The event budget, apparently, was used up by the actors, dogs, uniforms, and guard towers — images show that near the shoe pile was a pile of half-naked dolls, stacked high, apparently in imitation of corpses.
A rudimentary look at news coverage by Turkish CNN, which published several images of the Nazi-decorations in its coverage of the event, suggests that the decor did not cause controversy. Only on Wednesday evening did a few Turkish Twitter-users raise outrage with dismayed comments about the images, prompting an article from Gazete Duvar, a digital publication founded by Turkish journalists in response to a government crackdown on the media in 2016.
Çiçero filminin galasında Nazilerin toplama kamplarını kırmızı halıya taşımışlar, bu da katılımcıları çok etkilemiş, haberlerde öyle diyor! Promosyona gelin. Günümüz Türkiyesi Arendt’e “temsili kötülüğün sıradanlığı” diye kitap yazdırırdı. pic.twitter.com/fdjT17CMho— Fırat Yücel (@firatyucel) January 30, 2019
Turkish writer Fırat Yücel shared images of the event, commenting that it is the Turkish answer to Hannah Arendt’s famous “Banality of Evil.” Some of the female baby dolls in the image look to be wearing period-appropriate modest head coverings. Even Hannah would be impressed with this banality.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny