The story of an amazing French-Hungarian cinematographer and his family during the most turbulent times of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Turkey.
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“Antoine the Fortunate” charts the rise and fall of the fortunes of this ordinary man and his family. They witnessed and survived the dramatic events leading to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Turkey. Their story is recorded in hundreds of hitherto unreleased home movies, photographs and letters from the early 20th century to the 1970’s.
Antoine Köpe, a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was born in 1897 in Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire. The family moved to Thessaloniki where Antoine became a fascinated visitor of the city’s only cinema. These were turbulent times for the Köpes. In 1912 Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece declare war against the Ottoman Empire. Within months, the Ottomans withdraw from the Balkans. Thessaloniki became part of Greece and the family moved to Constantinople in 1913.
A year later, the Great War broke out and Antoine enlisted eventually in the Austro-Hungarian army, becoming an interpreter although he didn’t speak a word of German nor Turkish. Thus began the tale of the many twists and turns of his life that would see the end of the Ottoman (and Austro-Hungarian) empire and the birth of modern Turkey.
Through his personal films and audio recordings, photos, letters and drawings, Antoine revealed himself a gifted artist and assiduously documented the events of his life which he was fortunate enough to survive unscathed…
The film is a first person account of the radical transformations brought about by the end of the age of empires and one man’s struggle to survive to find his place in a changing world.
Today, Turkey and the Middle East carry many contradictions that were playing out during Antoine’s life: ambiguity towards religion, repression of minorities, extreme nationalism, emergence of populist leaders and never-ending conflicts. Antoine’s tale helps us to make sense of these transformations, which continue to define our world today.
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Festivals and Awards:
2019: Sunny Side of the Doc - Award for "Best History Pitch"