Artists, activists return to Emek Theater one week after heavy police intervention
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
The demonstrators marched to the front of the theater, this time without any police intervention. DHA photoA large collection of actors, directors, cinema critics and other artists returned to protest the demolition of the historic Emek Movie Theater in the heart of Istanbul’s entertainment district today, just one week after a similar protest was met with a harsh police response.
Istanbul police had been severely criticized for using water cannon and tear gas on April 7 against the group, which included renowned artists such as Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, who lent is support as he was in town to receive an award at the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival.
Following the intervention, artists decided to organize a new protest today as part of the closing ceremony for the festival.
The demonstrators marched to the front of the theater without any incident to demand that the building be preserved. “Emek is public property. It’s everyone’s property. We don’t want it to be demolished or moved somewhere else. This place is a cultural heritage and is beautiful as it is, where she was established,” actress Nürgül Yeşilçay said.
Popular faces from Turkish cinema and soap operas, such as Kenan İmirzalıoğlu, Güven Kıraç, Rıza Kocaoğlu and Berrak Tüzünataç, were also among the group.
The audience during the closure ceremony also held banners reading "Emek, beautiful where it is."
Just a year younger than the Turkish Republic, Emek Movie Theater was built in 1924 and stands as the first of its kind from the republican era. Despite their fabled history, Beyoğlu’s long-serving theaters have experienced difficulties in competing with new, big and modern movie theater chains.
The investors in the present demolition project are believed to be transforming the building into a shopping mall, but confusion remains whether the movie theater will be moved somewhere else or disappear altogether.