Family of late Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi ‘heartbroken’ over film

The boy perished in September 2015, along with his mother Rehanna and four-year-old brother Ghalib, when their small rubber boat capsized in the Aegean Sea while attempting to reach Greece after fleeing the war in Syria.

Relatives of Alan Kurdi, the two-year-old Syrian boy whose drowning while trying to reach Europe in 2015 shook consciences around the world, have objected to a new film about the toddler.

The heartbreaking photo of the boy’s lifeless tiny body, face down on a beach in Turkey, sparked a deep emotional reaction and became a rallying point for activists and others to offer assistance in Syria’s refugee crisis. It also pushed the European Union to temporarily open its borders to Syrian refugees.

Tima Kurdi, an aunt of the boy, told the told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in an article published on Friday that no one had asked the family’s permission to make the new movie about her nephew.

“I’m really heartbroken right now,” she said from her home in Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver in western Canada. “It’s unacceptable.”

She said she had learned about it only from the boy’s father, Abdullah Kurdi, who is now living in Iraq.

“He called me and he was crying, too,” she said.

Tima Kurdi, aunt of Alan Kurdi, says the film is ‘unacceptable’ Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP

“He said, ‘I can’t believe somebody is already making a movie.’ He said, ‘I cannot even imagine that my dead son – two years old who can’t even talk – I cannot imagine him coming alive’ on film.”

The movie, titled Aylan Baby (Sea of Death), is being filmed in Turkey, with a cast including US action film star Steven Seagal, the CBC said. Initial reporting had given Aylan as the spelling of the boy’s name.

Its Turkish writer and director, Omer Sarikaya, hopes to sell the movie to Netflix, as well as feature it at several international film festivals.

According to Tima Kurdi, who has published a book about her nephew titled “The Boy on the Beach”, the family has turned down several proposals for a film.

“It is a young child but they want to revive him. I do not know how this is possible. His images really hurt me,” Abdullah Kurdi, the father, told Rudaw TV, a Kurdish media network, on Friday

“They have not consulted me. The story is completely based on this book,”  he said, adding that he planned to take legal action to halt the film.

Income for humanitarian aid

Sarikaya told the CBC his film was not solely about the boy but much broader in scope, dealing with the overall refugee crisis.

“This will be ‘Aylan Baby,’ it will not be ‘Aylan Kurdi,’” he said, adding that it was now too late to change the title.

Sarikaya on Thursday told Turkish state media he had already started filming “Baby Aylan” in Turkey’s Bodrum, Mugla province, near to where the boy’s body was found.

“When this happened, I couldn’t sleep for a while. It was always on my mind,” Sarikaya said.

“I was thinking that, ‘Hopefully, someone will shoot a film about it and send a message to the world’ but nobody has done it so far. I am doing it now,” he said.

“The greatest feature of the film is that all the income will go to humanitarian aid. None of the actors or actresses will be paid.”

While Sarikaya acknowledged that relatives of the boy objected to the film, he told the CBC that he would like to speak to Abdullah and Tima and invite them to the movie’s premiere.

He said the net profit from his movie would go to help refugees.

“All my actors and crews are here for goodwill,” Sarikaya said.

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