On Tuesday 9 December 2014, AIS hosted the Australian premiere of the documentary Love is a Verb. The screening was held at Palace Cinema Como, featuring a Q&A session with director Terry Spencer Hesser and producer Hakan Berberoglu. Professor Rae Frances, dean of the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, gave the opening remarks, and George Donikian was the MC.
Love Is A Verb is an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the 1960s and now reaches across the globe. The group is called Hizmet (the Turkish word for service) or the Gulen Movement after its inspiration, leader and beloved teacher Fethullah Gulen, a man that Time Magazine named as one of the most influential leaders in the world in 2013.
Here is how the filmmakers describe their work:
"Through co-operation with the people inspired by Gulen, we had unprecedented access to the ideas and actions of the movement around the world. We met teachers who crawled through a tunnel to open a school in Sarajevo during the war and the students whose lives they changed. We met a Sufi conductor whose orchestra is composed of children whose parents were once at war. We got a glimpse of the interfaith work the movement provides in Turkey, including a visit to Rumi’s exquisite shrine. We went to their schools in Turkey, in Somalia, in Iraq. We meet a Kurdish teacher in Iraq who credits everything she is to her former Turkish teachers who stayed during the bombings, and a Kurdish woman who had also gone to one of the Turkish schools in Iraq and is now working as an engineer to bring water to the desert. Finally, in Somalia we followed two Turkish doctors putting their lives at risk in a place that other relief organizations have deemed too dangerous, a place where they sleep under armed guard."
The Anatolian Cultures and Arts Festival took place on Saturday, 6 December 2014. Featured speakers during the VIP program included Mr Zakir Yildirim, President of the Istanbul Culture and Arts Centre; Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP, Federal Member for Calwell; Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius APM, Victoria Police; Mr Chin Tan, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission; Campbell Chambers, Financial Services Executive at NAB; and Justice Shane Marshall, Federal Court of Australia.
The program was emceed by George Donikian.