Raised in a polygamous family, young Halide Edib defies the sultan and in 1901 becomes the first Muslem Turkish girl to graduate from the American College. She becomes a leader in the emancipation of Turkish women, and has been called “the mother of the new Turkey.”
Actress Pelin Batu has been described as “an innocent looking woman with a femme fatale flavor.” She came to prominence at Cannes with her film debut in Harem Suare (Harem Nights), in the role of a slave-girl, and has starred in Turkish movies including Commissar Shakespeare, Operation Cherry, and Gunpowder in My Blood. A multi-talented actress, writer, and musician, Pelin studied at New York University, the Sorbonne, and is completing her Ph.D. at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University. She performs with a jazz band, has published two books of poetry, and for two years was co-host of the popular Turkish television show Back Rooms of History.
Born in secret, Princess Hatice is the daughter of the deposed Sultan Murad. She lives confined to the harem for her first 28 years. In 1904 her affair with her cousin’s husband causes a scandal that reaches around the world.
Melike Günal Kurtulmuş is a graduate of Veronica Arman Ballet School, İstanbul Bilgi University and Suna Uğur Ballet School. She has performed with Istanbul’s Cağdaş Ballet Company since 2005, and recently danced the lead in the Contemporary Ballet Ensemble’s production of Medea. THE SULTAN’S WOMEN is her first film.
Sultan Murad V offers hope for democratic reforms. But he rules for only 93 days in 1876 before he is deposed by his brother. Murad and all the women, slaves, and eunuchs in his harem will be kept under palace arrest for 28 years.
Abdulhamid II deposes his brother Murad and reigns as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1876 – 1909. Known as the Red Sultan, he is an absolute monarch. As portrayed by Turkish actor Taner Solmaz, he is a despotic, fearful, and cunning ruler.
The Queen Mother, or Valide Sultan, is the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire. Once a slave-girl herself, in the tradition of harem women she becomes the power behind the throne. When her son Murad is deposed, she plots with foreign agents to restore him to power.
The Ottomans prefer slave girls from the Caucasus. The most fortunate become the sultan’s concubines. The diary of the slave-girl Filizten, played by newcomer Deniz Aylan of Yedi Tepe University Theater School, provides a unique eyewitness voice to THE SULTAN’S WOMEN.
Brenna MacCrimmon is a Canadian musician who speaks and sings perfect Turkish and is internationally acclaimed as a Turkish folk singer. Her first album, Karşılama was nominated for a Juno Award in 1998. She is featured in the 2005 documentary film Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul.