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Turkish Comic Film About Coup Wins Venice Prize

A black comedy about a botched coup in Turkey won a major prize at the Venice film festival on Friday. “The Announcement,” a deadpan satire based on a real-life military coup attempt in 1963, won the Best Mediterranean Film prize awarded annually by Italian critics.

The Hollywood Reporter had called the tragicomedy by Mahmut Fazil Coskun a “near perfect coup,” praising its “unholy mix of bone-dry comedy and a deadly serious meditation on the transience of those in power.”

Coskun, 45, admitted parallels will be drawn with the failed coup to oust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. But Variety said the film was more about what happens when “the general population become pawns” in dangerous power games.

Eight people died in the failed 1963 coup, led by Colonel Talat Aydemir, who was later hanged.

The film — Coskun’s third — follows a group of violent but clueless plotters sent to Istanbul from the capital Ankara, but taking over the city’s radio station proves more complicated than they thought.

Soldiers involved in the chaotic 2016 coup attempt also got more than they bargained for when they attempted to shut down media outlets.

Erdogan blamed the abortive putsch that claimed 249 lives on his former ally Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish preacher with thousands of followers across the country.

The attempt led to the biggest purge of Turkey’s modern history, with Erdogan targeting not just alleged supporters of Gulen, but Kurdish activists, leftists, journalists, and his liberal critics.

Some 80,000 people were arrested and around double that number sacked from their jobs in schools, the public service, and the justice system.

The Venice film festival’s Golden Lion top prize will be awarded at a ceremony on Saturday.

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