Best Documentary Audience Award
Boston Turkish Festival's 16th Annual Documentary & Short Film Competition (2021)

Leave the Door Open - Ertegun and Friends

Directed by ÜMRAN SAFTER

Doc. / 2021 / 64 min. / In English and Turkish with English subtitles

Washington DC in the 1930s. The epicenter of American Jazz. Two teenage boys newly arrived in the America’s capital are overjoyed at the prospect of being able to regularly see their Jazz idols perform live. However, a nasty surprise awaited them. The rigid segregation of the time meant they couldn’t even find the albums of their favorite Black musicians in mainstream record shops let alone find and attend live performances. Their passion for Jazz drives these two teenage boys to reject the existing status quo and pursue a color-blind quest to become a part of the Jazz scene.

Leave the Door Open provides an intriguing and in-depth look into how a deep love of Jazz and a multicultural background meant two teenage Turkish boys refused to simply accept racial discrimination and pushed them to test socially acceptable racial boundaries. Their passion for Jazz was a result of nights spent listening to jazz on long wave radio and in venues across Paris and London. A passion for Jazz that would also help lay the foundations of the iconic Atlantic Records music label.

Leave The Door Open is the story of Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, and that of their father – Munir Mehmet Ertegun, the Turkish ambassador to Washington DC in the 1930s. Determined to enjoy their passion for Jazz at its very epicenter, the two young boys broke through the barriers of racial discrimination by befriending Black Jazz musicians and even hosting racially-integrated jam sessions at the official embassy residence. Legendary Jazz artists such as Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Teddy Williams, Johnny Hodges, Count Basie were among those who performed at these jam sessions at the residence. The friendships and respect forged during those days meant many artists signed on with Ahmet and Nesuhi years later when they launched the Atlantic Records label.

Leave the Door Open explains the unfolding of events and their repercussions in those days through the eyes and voices of the Ertegun family, historians, musicians and academics.


Umran SafterA recipient of numerous international and national film awards,  Ümran Safter is a director, script writer and former journalist. She embarked on her filmmaking career in 2014 and is currently completing her debut feature motion picture titled Guilt.”  She has made several feature documentary films exploring multiculturalism and gender issues, including titles such as The Eye of Istanbul, Sevan the Craftsman, The Sin of Being a Woman, Through Ottoman Eyes and Leave the Door Open.  She spent more than two decades engaged in news coverage of Turkey and the Middle East, including the wars in Iraq and Syria for both print and television media as a correspondent.


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