Turkish biopic ''Reis'' (''The Chief'') explores Erdogan's Istanbul childhood, early political career and rise to presidency. Its release comes weeks ahead of a referendum on the country's constitution. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
A biopic charting the climb of Turkey's leader. The premiere of "The Chief" coinciding with President Tayyip Erdogan's 63rd birthday last Sunday (February 26). Its narrative focuses on the life and times of the man who's dominated the nation's politics in the 21st century. But the timing of its release is being questioned by critics, raising concerns of a growing cult of personality. A claim the actor who portrays Erdogan rejects (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) ACTOR, REHA BEYOGLU, WHO PLAYS TURKISH PRESIDENT TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING: "There may be criticisms. People cannot be stopped from talking. Anyone can say anything but this is definitely not a propaganda movie. Because we started to shoot this movie in February 2016 and it was completed in May. It was supposed to come to theatres on September 14, but we received great demand from foreign countries. The promotion period was short. We were thinking of postponing to December. Then we thought about opening it on our President's birthday as a gift." Its release comes just weeks before April's referendum which would grant Erdogan sweeping new powers. If accepted, the reforms will enable the president to appoint ministers and top state officials, dissolve parliament, declare emergency rule and issue decrees. Backers say they are essential in a country shaken by Islamic State and Kurdish militant attacks. Opposition parties argue the changes will remove checks to the extensive powers Erdogan already wields. "The Chief" made by a little known company, with its funding unclear. Beyond the theatre, the April 16 referendum is one Erdogan can ill afford to lose.