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Turkey Selects True-Life Drama ‘Ayla’ as Foreign-Language Oscar Entry

Can Ulkay’s “Ayla” has been selected as Turkey’s official candidate for the best foreign-language film Oscar, it was announced Friday. Based on the true story of a Turkish veteran of the Korean War, “Ayla” follows its characters against the background of the war in 1950 and revisits them in this century.

The film tells the story of a soldier who risks his own life to save a young girl he finds half-frozen and on the verge of death, smuggling her into his army base. Despite being unable to communicate with each other, the two form a strong bond. When the war ends and the soldier must return home, he cannot bear to abandon the girl but is forced to hand her over to an orphanage, hoping one day to be reunited with her. The pair were finally reunited 60 years later.

Ismail Hacioglu stars as the young soldier, with Cetin Tekindor playing him as an older man. Kim Seol and Lee Kyung-Jin play the eponymous Ayla as a young girl and adult, respectively. The cast also features U.S. actor Eric Roberts.

The selection was made by Turkey’s Artistic Events Commission (SEK). The 17-person committee, which includes Turkish film industry professionals as well as officials from the country’s culture and tourism ministry, selected the film from a pool of 13 films submitted for consideration.

“Ayla” is produced by Mustafa Uslu for local production company Dijital Sanatlar and will be released in Turkey Oct. 27.

Turkey has submitted films for consideration in the Oscar best foreign-language film category on 23 previous occasions but has yet to receive a nomination. In 2014, the country submitted Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep.”

The nominations for the 2017 Academy Awards will be announced on Jan. 23, 2018. The ceremony takes place March 4.

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