Biopic of Magnum Photographer to be Shot on his Old Lenses

Ara Guler
Ara Guler in 2018

A biopic of Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Guler has been announced with his old lenses being repurposed so they can be used to film the movie on.

Guler, who died in 2018, took photos of celebrity icons but was also known as “The Eye of Istanbul.” He joined the prestigious Magnum photo agency after meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson who personally signed him up.

Writer-director duo Aren Pedeci and Ela Almayanac will direct the biopic that has the working title Hello. The pair make movies that denote Armenian themes.

Who was Ara Guler?

Guler was a photojournalist born in Istanbul in 1928 and after working for Turkish newspapers he was appointed Near East correspondent for Time-Life magazine when they established a presence in Turkey in 1958.

He went on to work for other international magazines such as Stern, Paris Match, and the Sunday Times of London before meeting Magnum’s co-founder Cartier-Bresson.

Aside from photographing towering figures of the mid-20th century like Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, Ansel Adams, and Salvador Dali; Guler dedicated himself to capturing his storied hometown — Istanbul.

Guler captured Istanbul in both black and white and color illustrating the city’s people, economy, and vibrancy.

“Photography is not an art. It is more important than art,” Guler once said. “We photographers are chroniclers who record the visual history of our age. Look at 19th-century photographs. They give us the truest glimpse of that century.”

Ara Guler’s Biopic

As noted by Variety, Panavision will repurpose the lenses that Guler used on his old Leica cameras to shoot the biopic with.

The owner of Ara Guler’s archives, the Dogus Corp. of Turkey, is unveiling the biopic along with the Research Center and the Ara Guler Museum. It is being produced by Turkey’s Kara Kedi Film company to potential partners at Berlin’s European Film Markey.

The directors, Perdeci and Almayanac, previously released Lost Birds a film about the 1915 mass deportations and genocide of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire. It was the first movie shot in Turkey about the still politically-charged destruction of the Armenian people.

Perdeci and Almayanac are of Armenian descent and spent time with Guler before he passed away. The film will focus on a three-day journey the photographer made with his father to the Armenian village his family is from.

“Guler always told us his greatest journey was taking his father back home,” the directors say in a statement.

Image credits:Feature photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.