Foreign film critics react against Emek decision
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The decision for the destruction of Beyoğlu’s historical Emek Movie Theater draws reaction from Turkish public as well as foreign film critics, who once visited the
The decision for the destruction of Beyoğlu’s historical Emek Movie Theater draws reaction from Turkish public as well as foreign film critics, who once visited the theater.
The project set to destroy Istanbul’s historic Emek Movie Theater continues to trigger public outrage and draws reaction from scores of international film critics who viewed films at the cinema during the Istanbul Film Festival, Milliyet reported.
“Emek is ours as much as yours,” said Indian director Madhu Eravankara. He was shocked by the proposal regarding the destruction of the movie theater, he said. “I was on the FIPRESCI jury at the 2008 Istanbul Film Festival. It was an unbelievable experience to see a movie in one of Istanbul’s oldest theaters, which is why this decision made me very sorry. It should be protected as cultural heritage. Acording to Nil Kural’s article in daily Milliyet, you can build a new Emek, but you destroy the memories of the past in doing so. For me, Emek is the Hagia Sophia of movie theaters and it should be preserved for future generations.”
British Sight & Sound magazine Editor-in-Chief Nick James said Emek Movie Theater was one of the more magical places in Istanbul. “In one of my last visits to the Istanbul Film Festival, I realized Beyoğlu had begun to lose its unique tissue because of ATM machines and American chains. A way should be found to preserve Emek in its original form.”
German cinema historian and film critic Daniela Sannwald said she first saw the Emek Movie Theater in 1999. “Everything in the theater symbolized Turkish cinematic culture,” she said. “I have been attending screenings in Emek for 10 years. Destroying Emek means to deny the national cultural history. I am harshly protesting the decision.”
Greek film critic and international screenwriter Alexis Grivas was surprised by the decision. “I think my colleagues in Greece have the same idea as me. The most surprising thing is the building being public property at all. It should be honored and respected as a piece of Istanbul’s cultural identity,” Grivas said.
Cult value for the world
Hungarian Film Critics Association Chairman and FIPRESCI representative Professor Györg Baron said Emek was a place he spent most of his time in Istanbul. “It is not only a movie theater but it also offers cult value for film aficionadas and cinema professionals from all around the world.” Meanwhile, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said in a statement the Emek Movie Theater would not be destroyed and be kept as its original. “Let everyone carefully read reports regarding this issue. We are all against the destruction of the theater,” he said in the statement. But the report foresees the Emek Movie Theater being established in upper floors of the proposed complex. Subsequently, even if there is no “destruction,” moving the theater to upper floors will spell its demise.