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Turkish Government Censors Film about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party at the IKSV Istanbul Film Festival

April 14, 2015

On April 12th, at the IKSV ISTANBUL FILM FESTIVAL the Turkish government censored a documentary about kurdish guerrilla PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party). The film title is “Bakur”(Director: Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu) which is the kurdish word for “North”. Kurdish people use this word as a description for the northern part of Kurdistan. The Istanbul Film festival gave out a statement on their website: “As per the statute, festival participation requires that ‘films produced within the country are registered and recorded.’ Screening of films produced in Turkey without this certificate results in legal sanctions; therefore the Istanbul Film Festival will not be able to screen films that don’t have the aforementioned certificate.” As a sign of solidarity the film team of “Until I Loose My Breath/ Nefesim Kesilene Kadar” (Director: Emine Emel Balci) refused their screening.

An announcement from the Istanbul Film Festival stated:

The Cinema General Directorate of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has sent an official letter to the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts reminding that as per Item 15 of the Regulation Pertaining to the Basis and Procedures of Evaluation and Categorisation of Film Products, films produced in Turkey need to have obtained a formal registration certificate in order to be screened at festivals.

As per the statute, festival participation requires that “films produced within the country are registered and recorded.” Screening of films produced in Turkey without this certificate results in legal sanctions, therefore Istanbul Film Festival will not be able to screen films that don’t have the aforementioned certificate.

As such, the screening of Bakur / North directed by Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, announced to be realised at 16.00 on Sunday, 12 April at Atlas Movie Theatre, will not be made. A future screening date of the film will be announced on the condition that it acquires this registration certificate.

Films produced outside Turkey are exempt from the scope of this regulation. Istanbul Film Festival believes that this exemption should apply for films made in Turkey as well. Istanbul Film Festival has been holding talks regarding the extension of this exemption to locally produced films as well and will continue these talks. However the statute that requires the registration certificate is still in effect. Therefore other films produced in Turkey that are in the festival programme also need to obtain this certificate.

Viewers who purchased tickets for this screening can apply to the relevant box office for refunds (İKSV box office for tickets purchased from there or Biletix channels for tickets purchased from Biletix or the movie theaters.)

Furthermore, on the next day of the festival, 22 film teams cancelled their screening as a sign of solidarity with the rejected film “BAKUR” (North), directed by Çayan Demirel and Ertuğrul Mavioğlu. They declared: “We do not accept the requirement of these certificates for local productions, especially as they are not required for foreign films. We consider this to be a form of oppression and censorship.” The 34th Istanbul Film Festival committee announced April 13 that the screening of a majority of films in the National Competition, National Documentary Competition, International Competition, Cinema in Human Rights Competition, Out of Competition, and New Turkish Cinema sections were canceled. The festival committee also announced that the National and International Golden Tulip Competitions, National Documentary Competition and the Closing Ceremony were cancelled.

More information here: http://film.iksv.org/en/archive/newsarchive/p/1/1120

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A press conference by the professional organisations from the sector was held on Tuesday, 14 April at 15.30′ in Atlas Movie Theatre.

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