“This is an international film first. The story is international – you can’t find this kind of story anywhere,” director Can Ulkay said of Ayla: The Daughter of War, which will be the Turkish entry for Best Foreign Language Film this year. Based on a true story in 1950 during the Korean War, the film follows Sergeant Süleyman, who risks his own life to save a young, ill girl with no parents who is left freezing in the cold. If Ayla receives a nomination, it will be the first of 24 submitted films to do so for Turkey.
“In 2010, the story was on Korean TV – they did a documentary about Ayla and Süleyman, and it started on television first, in documentary, on YouTube and other channels,” Ulkay said, sitting down for a panel with Deadline’s Dominic Patten as part of Awardsline’s Screening Series. “We saw that and we started to work on it, and we first started to write in 2015. We started shooting in 2016.”
In bringing Ayla’s story to the big screen, the director knew he’d need big production values to do the story justice. “The production is very important for this kind of movie. When we read the story first, I thought, We can do this best – and how can we do it?” he said. “Because we need big production. My producer is here, and he spent a lot of money for my dream, and for my pictures.