Just before we left, we did a shoot with the people who participated in the 1962 failed coup attempt. We had already interviewed the head of TRT Radio, which had been taken over by the military that evening in 1962, and we wanted to talk with the junior officers who tried to overthrow the government. They have a society and meet every month for dinner and drinks, to wax nostalgic about the days gone by and their “forgotten coup.” We talked to the head of the group, and he told us to come down to film them at the next meeting, which would take place in a couple of days.
We showed up, and their leader wasn’t there. It was a bunch of sad-sacks hanging around, talking about the good old days and how terrible it was, as if they were Vietnam vets. Nobody knew about the filming or who we were. We had them sit in a semicircle and Elif interviewed them while I filmed. While I was filming, I noticed that people one at a time were getting up and leaving. Finally, I took my eye off the eyepiece and saw a man behind me, putting his finger to his lips, signalling some to shut up and motioning to others to get up and walk away. Elif finished interviewing the few people remaining. Finally, a man claiming to be a government consultant came up to her and asked, “Why are you doing this, who’s behind this?” and Elif told him, “I’m from the CIA.”
The shoot was fruitless. It was pathetic; major political and military figures had spoken with us on camera, risking their lives and telling their stories – yet, when these little people with their little Masonic club finally have their chance at their moment of glory, at being remembered and recorded for posterity, they clam up. The few that spoke offered little insight other than “We like Ataturk.” When we got home, Elif called the head of the organization and let him have it: “Why were you not there? You embarrassed me in front of my family who came to the shoot to help me. I did 45 interviews with famous people and have never been so insulted by a bunch of losers.” He said, “Talk like a lady; you don’t know what you are saying.” Elif answered with the most insulting thing you could say to a Turkish male: “Shame on you, being scared of a young woman with a camera. You are not a man.”
Within a week, we were off to America. It was time to edit the film.