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To Ray Nutt, CEO
Fathom Events
6465 Greenwood Plaza Blvd, Suite 550
Centennial, CO, 80111

December 22, 2022

Dear Mr. Nutt,

I am writing to you in connection with the showing of the “Smyrna” movie on 700 screens in USA on December 8. Suffice it to say that, I am appalled. The claim made in the movie, that Turks were responsible for the catastrophic Izmir fire in September 1922 in Western Anatolia, is an outright deception. The movie is supposedly based on the family diary of an elderly Greek-American woman who lived in the cosmopolitan city at the time.

Before you decided to showcase this movie, have you checked the authenticity of the contents? Surely, just like for any commercial undertaking, for Fathom Events the bottom-line matters. But you also have responsibility to ascertain that a movie production or the like does not unjustly offend a particular ethnic group, or saw the seeds of animosity between ethnic groups.

The fact is, “Smyrna” is very offensive to Turkish Americans because it falsifies history, and in a way, defames them. It is also divisive.

Without belaboring the details, I am attaching two documents for your viewing. One of them is the scanned heading of a news coverage from San Antonio Express dated January 22, 1923, four months after the Smyrna fire. The heading reads “Armenians, Not Turks Set Smyrna Ablaze, the Relief Worker Declares,” and continues, “American Who Reached City Before Occupation Says Victors Not Responsible for Destruction.” The photo caption is that of Mark O. Prentiss, the American representative of the Near East Relief. The story recounts evidence gathered by Prentiss himself and Paul Grescovish, chief of the Smyrna fire department, that it was the Armenians that had set the city ablaze. Within the text, Prentiss also states that the evidence runs counter general belief prevalent in USA.

The news coverage is based on a detailed January 11, 1923 report Prentiss sent to Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, the US High Commissioner at the American Embassy in Istanbul. If you like, I can send you the scanned copy of the entire news coverage.

The second attachment is an account provided by a French scholar who researched the topic. In his account he summarizes his conclusion“Inferno of Izmir” on September 13, 1922 was mainly committed by Armenian terrorists, but also aided by Greek elements.”

As a matter of fact, as the Turkish troops advanced to free the city from Greek occupation, they had no reason to set the city afire because they needed all the resources including shelter, running water, food supplies, etc. that were available in the city. Turks were not crazy to burn the city they had just captured.

Izmir has been a Turkish city since 1415. It was occupied by Greek forces on May 15, 1919 and recaptured by Turkish forces on September 9, 1922. For centuries until World War I, Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Jews and and Levantines lived in the city harmoniously

I can also provide historical data from other sources, e.g., historians Lord Kinross and Stanford Shaw, to convince you that Turks were not responsible for the Izmir (Smyrna) fire. But for the purpose of this letter, what I have provided will suffice.

Given the background above, the question is, what will Fathom Events do to rectify its misdeed? Your company is one of the largest distributors of “content” to movie theatres. I understand there are plans to screen “Smyrna” at the European Parliament in Brussels on January 11, 2023, as well as at other festivals and events around the world, possibly even at the US Congress.

One thing you can do is to cancel further distribution and showing of “Smyrna.” You can also issue mea culpa or public apology to Turkish American community.

Finally, Mr. Nutt, your company may take the position that it is legally protected under freedom of speech guaranteed in First Amendment. But I am sure you know that free speech has limitations, one of them being defamation. Creating animosity between ethnic communities also runs against the spirit of peaceful co-existence.


Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D.
[email protected]

San Antoni

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