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Turkey’s Film Festival Cancelled over Censorship Issues

Date: 2023-10-03

Turkey’s Film Festival Cancelled over Censorship Issues

Turkey’s Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival has been cancelled due to a controversy around a politically sensitive documentary, regarding a 2016 coup attempt. By: Dylan Low

Istanbul - Turkey’s oldest film festival has officially been cancelled. Antalya Mayor, Muhittin Bocek announced the cancellation a day after the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry pulled out from supporting the event. 

The organisation opposed the film Kanun Hükmü, also known as The Decree, which highlights the dismissal of a teacher and doctor from their jobs after a failed coup attempt. They released a statement saying, “It is extremely sad that in such an important festival, the power of art is used to make propaganda for the FETO terrorist organisation through the perception of victimhood.”

FETO refers to a movement led by U.S based cleric Fethullah Guthen, who is faulted for the failed coup. Gulen had denied any responsibility.

The ministry declared that it will not be part of the effort to discredit the epic struggle of our beloved nation on July 15 and to use art as an element of provocation. The mayor issued her standpoint, stating, “Nobody should doubt that I will not allow our festival to be used for anyone’s political agenda.” 

Documentary director Nejla Demirci took to social media. “I am saddened to see, day by day, how negative attitudes have organised against a documentary film. I am baffled by the statements of ministers who have not seen the film,” she wrote. 

The reason given was due to ongoing legal proceedings of a featured person in the film. Demirci stated it was an excuse and called it an “outright censorship”. Twenty jury members of the festival left, based on protests of the film being removed. Producers and directors of 27 festival entries stated their withdrawal from the event. 

Hence the Antalya Golden Orange Film festival, which was scheduled from 7-14 October, has been officially cancelled. Held annually since 1963, it is an important festival on the Turkish cultural calendar.

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