ISTANBUL, Turkey : Merve Dizdar, the acclaimed winner of the best actress award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, has found herself at the center of a controversy upon her return to Turkey.
The actress, known for her role in “About Dry Grasses,” was accused of undermining her own country by Ibrahim Uslu, the deputy chairman of Turkey’s Supreme Radio and Television Board.
Uslu took to Twitter, urging Dizdar to show respect for Turkey before expecting any appreciation for her achievement.
Arriving in Istanbul on Sunday, Dizdar was met with a mixed reception, with both cheering fans and sharp criticism awaiting her. Despite the backlash, the actress remained unapologetic, standing by the sentiments expressed in her Cannes speech, where she highlighted the struggles faced by women in Turkey.
“I am overwhelmed with the support I see here,” Dizdar expressed her gratitude to Reuters after casting her vote at an Istanbul school in the runoff presidential election. “I am very happy to bring such an award to my country,” she added, as fans gathered around her, capturing the moment with selfies and offering flowers. “I am so happy to share this with all my sisters.”
Dizdar’s portrayal of a teacher in a remote village earned her the prestigious best actress prize at the renowned film festival. In her acceptance speech, she emphasized the deep understanding she possessed for the role, stating that she has known the feelings of such women “by heart since the day I was born.”
However, her impassioned words drew disparaging reactions from allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials. Despite the controversy, Dizdar remains resolute, emphasizing the universality of women’s struggles and defending her right to speak out.
“The country where I was born, the women here, we all have a struggle, it is present here and all over the world,” Dizdar told Reuters, firmly standing her ground. “We know how hard it is to be a woman, and I made a speech about it.”
The aftermath of Dizdar’s return continues to spark debate and raise questions about freedom of expression and the role of artists in society. The controversy surrounding her Cannes achievement and the subsequent criticism she faced highlight the complex dynamics at play in contemporary Turkish society.