“The Ancient People of Mesopotamia: Syriacs and Sayfo”: completion of new Turkish documentary in financial danger

ANKARA – The forthcoming Turkish documentary “The Ancient People of Mesopotamia: Syriacs and Sayfo” (Turkish: Mezopotamya’nın Kadim Halki: Süryaniler ve Sayfo) by documentary maker Altan Sancar explores the ancient Mesopotamian Syriac people with thousands of years of history and civilization. The documentary has a special focus on Sayfo, the Genocide of 1915 that nearly decimated and uprooted one of the oldest peoples in the world from their native lands.

Altan Sancar describes the particularity of his new documentary compared to other documentaries about Syriacs; “Are there no other documentaries about Syriacs? Of course there are… However, as a production team, we prefer to look at history from the narratives of the people themselves, not from the official [state] point of view. This is what makes us different. We want to bring the viewer together with what has not yet been told.”Sancar lets the Syriacs speak for themselves; about their highs and lows, their cultural merits and historical achievements, their sufferings and sorrows, all in their own language.

Sancar previously made the documentary “The Hidden Cross” (“Saklı Haç”) about Islamized Armenians. He set out to do something similar for the Syriacs.

For the “The Ancient People of Mesopotamia: Syriacs and Sayfo” documentary, Sancar traveled all over Turkey and Europe, shooting on location in Tur Abdin and Merde (Mardin) and traveling to various European countries to document the impact of Sayfo through the personal stories, lives, and aspirations of the descendants of Sayfo victims.

Sancar and his team started their project last year during the corona pandemic. After months of not being able to work and film, or only with great delay, the shooting phase of the documentary has finally been completed. The pandemic however, was a drain on finances and Sancar and his team have now set up a fundraising to complete the documentary’s translation, music, and editing.

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