Istanbul Film Festival to close at under-threat Emek Theater

Istanbul Film Festival to close at under-threat Emek Theater

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul Film Festival to close at under-threat Emek Theater

The demolition of Emek Theater done by cinema circles to protest the construction work. AA photo

Demonstrators are set to return to Istanbul’s iconic Emek Theater, which is currently being demolished, on April 14 as part of the closing ceremony of the 32nd Istanbul Film Festival.

The festival opened with a protest at the building, with a group of 30 protesters occupying the building to protest the demolition, before another protest on April 7 resulted in clashes between protesters and police.

Police forces deployed water cannon and tear gas on April 7 to disperse the massive group that had gathered in Taksim to protest the demolition, which authorities have labeled as a radical restoration. Several actors and demonstrators were ultimately taken into custody at the end of the protest.

The protest was attended by several prominent names in the cinema world, with the likes of Greek-French director Costa-Gavras, British director and BAFTA laureate Mike Newell, Chilean screenwriter and director Marco Bechis and German director Jan Ole Gerster all attending.

Famous faces from Turkish cinema were also in the group, including Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Serra Yılmaz and Cem Davran, as well as directors Ezel Akay and Erden Kıral.

The use of force by the police occupied public debate for days following the clashes. Interior Minister Muammer Güler blamed illegal organizations and provocateurs for the turn of events on April 7, while the deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Hüseyin Çelik, accused the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and “marginal groups” of “infiltrating and starting violence at protests that were otherwise of good intent.”

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) issued a statement following the clashes, slamming the “excessive force” used by the police. “We condemn what has been inflicted on cinema lovers who did nothing other than protect Istanbul’s cultural memory,” the statement said.

İKSV’s Istanbul Film Festival began on March 30 and will end April 14.