Filmmakers display solidarity against censorship of ‘Bakur’: 3 competitions and closing ceremony cancelled at Istanbul Film Festival

The Golden Tulip National and International Competitions and the National Documentary Competition, and also the closing ceremony of the 24th Istanbul Film Festival have been cancelled following the blocking of the screening of the documentary ‘Bakur’ yesterday.

Following the cancellation yesterday (April 12) of the screening within the scope of the 34th Istanbul Film Festival of the documentary ‘A Guerrilla Documentary: Bakur/Kuzey’ on grounds that it did not have a ‘certificate of registration’, directors and producers of 22 films taking part in the festival had withdrawn from the festival in protest of this act of censorship.

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IFCA/İKSV), the organizer of the film festival, held a press conference today following the crisis. Festival President Azize Tan, jury members, and filmmakers taking part in the festival took part in the press conference.

Azize Tan stated that they respected and supported the decision of directors who had withdrawn their films from the festival, and invited film teams that had withdrawn their films from the festival to come to the film theaters at the hours of screening to hold open forums on the issue. 

How was Bakur’s screening blocked?

Azize Tan also provided an account of how the screening of the documentary Bakur was blocked: “On April 11, we received an official notification from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism that reminded us of the implementation of laws and regulations in force. These require that films produced in Turkey to have a ‘certificate of registration’. Bakur was the first film to be screened that did not have this certificate. There are many other films without the certificate.

Demirkubuz: Someone has clearly decided that this film needs to be banned

Zeki Demirkubuz, director and head of this year’s National Competition Jury, said that the censorship targeting Bakur was related to its subject matter: “This country has begun to force the boundaries of self-destruction. A decision has been taken to ban Bakur. In my opinion, this has to do with the upcoming elections, with yesterday’s clashes, and the mules murdered by the army 10 days ago in Roboskî.”  

Demirkubuz also referred to the sentence ‘It is impossible to make films in a country where there is censorship’ included in the boycott declaration of filmmakers, and said, “I am against all that. Buñuel made his best films during the Franco era. If a filmmaker is not sharp enough to confront the powers that be, then it’s time to give up.” 


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