ISTANBUL - First reportedly spotted in eastern Turkish city of Van in the 1990s, the controversial 'Lake Van Monster' is set to hit the silver screen for the first time. Directed by Bünyamin Yaşar, the eponymous film is expected to be finished in 25 days and released in theaters in September.
The 105-minute feature film about a fake monster created by three shepherds is expected to be finished in 25 days. "We have a 30-person technical team and a 15-person artistic team. We will shoot the film in Van’s historical and touristy places, including Akdamar Island," said director Bünyamin Yaşar.
"The Kurdish language will be used in some scenes of the film, which will meet with audiences in September," he added.
It appeared in 1995
The Lake Van Monster was first reportedly spotted in 1995; at least 1,000 people in the region claim to have seen it. The film will tell the story of three shepherds who were dismissed from their town for not protecting the sheep. They created a fake monster and made everyone believe in the legend.
"The film will leave a question mark in people’s minds," added Yaşar, who said there would be elements of comedy and romance, as well as action scenes, in the film, which stars Levent Aras, Nazif Çetin and Didem Ellialtı.
Yaşar said they were making an entertaining film, but one that would have great importance for the promotion of Van. Noting that the Lake Van Monster had never been featured in a film before, he spoke about the scenario the movie would present. "Three shepherds, who were dismissed from their town, come up with an idea while swimming in the lake that will fool the people of the town: They make a mock-up of a monster and film it," he said. "Then they make the people watch it in return for money and make very good money. But, at the end of the film, the shepherds see the real monster in the lake."
Yaşar added that they do not have box-office expectations but hope to join international festivals.
Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East. The monster reportedly measures around 15 meters long, with spikes on its back, and can be compared in many ways to the Loch Ness Monster in the United Kingdom or the Lake Champlain Monster in the United States.
A 4-meter-high statue based on reported sightings has been erected in its honor in the city of Van.
Following the alleged eyewitness reports, the Turkish government sent an official scientific survey group to the lake, but it failed to spot the creature.
Criticisms on video
In 1997, a local man, Ünal Kozak, a member of Van University, said he had captured the creature on video and sent the film in for analysis.
He has also written a book about the monster. Kozak’s video is under constant criticism, with viewers questioning why it never pans left, saying perhaps there was a boat carrying the "creature," or asking why the monster only goes straight, instead of curving through the water. Some have even criticized why the creature’s breathing seems to be not in and out, but a continuous release, much like the effects of an air hose.
The monster may be nothing more than an urban legend, a hoax to attract tourists or a strange, faceless creature in a shaky video. But to investigators, there is enough reason to believe that there is something lurking in the salty waters of Lake Van.