In Turkey, a zenne is a male belly dancer. It’s also the title of a film about gay love in Turkey, produced by Istanbul gay couple Mehmet Binay and Caner Alper.
The pair decided to make the movie after, their friend Ahmet Yildiz was shot to death by his father in 2008 for having a boyfriend. It’s considered the first gay honor killing in Turkey, and his father is still on the lam.
Though they’ve been together for 14 years, Binay and Alper only recently came out as a couple: Their families thought that would be “career suicide,” they told CNN. ”Until we won five awards from the first festival that we attended.”
Zenne, according to its press notes is:
A feature film about an unusual trio: Daniel, a German photojournalist in Istanbul without much knowledge about Middle Eastern values. Can, a flamboyant, out-and-proud male belly dancer with lots of love and support from his family, and Ahmet, born to an Eastern and conservative family, whose quest for honesty and liberty results in a tragic end.
The men hope the film will make gay rights an issue that Turkish people can’t just ignore anymore. “Death and murder is still on the agenda of our country. We can’t get rid of this mentality,” said Binay. “People need to tolerate each other. They need to understand that different identities can live next to each other without disturbing each other.”
Photo: Sara Anjargolian