Police intervene at Emek Theater protest featuring Costa-Gavras

Police intervene at Emek Theater protest featuring Costa-Gavras

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Police intervene at Emek Theater protest featuring Costa-Gavras

Police started spraying water at the group protesting protest the demolition of Istanbul’s iconic Emek Cinema, as well as tear gas, according to witnesses. Hürriyet photo, Adem KABAYEL

Police deployed water cannon and tear gas on April 7 to disperse a group of thousands, including Greek-French director Costa-Gavras and many actors, who had marched on Istanbul’s iconic Emek Cinema to protest the demolition of the historic building.
Police had already blocked off access to the side street where the theater is located, forcing protesters to remain on İstiklal Avenue, the heart of Istanbul’s entertainment area. Following a warning that the demonstration was unauthorized, police started spraying water at the group, as well as tear gas, according to witnesses. 

Movie critic Berke Göl and three other demonstrators were taken into custody,  daily Radikal reported. One of the most venerable Turkish directors, Erden Kıral, reportedly fainted during the police attack.

A group of 200 demonstrators are camping in front of Beyoğlu police department to demand the release of those taken into custody, according to daily Radikal. 

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

Costa-Gavras addresses Turkish PM on Emek Theater

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News


‘It will be a mistake to close
down  Emek,’ says director
Costa-Gavras. Photo courtesy
of Kemal YILMAZ 

Greek-French director Costa-Gavras has written a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a bid to save Istanbul’s iconic Emek Theater from destruction under the guise of restoration.

"Violent incidents which followed this peaceful gathering should not make us forget its very reasons; moreover, the provokers are still unclear," he said in the letter.
Costa-Gavras – whose birth name is Constantinos Gavras – said in the letter that commerce should not outweigh culture and called on Erdoğan to guarantee Istanbul's cultural integrity.
The demolition of the theater would be equal to erasing an important piece of history and would represent a political, social and artistic mistake, he said.

Closing Emek a 'mistake'
Prominent figures have long protested the renovation project of the Cercle d’Orient building, which will be turned into a shopping mall. 
According to officials, the historical theater will be shifted to a higher story in the new construction, but critics say the plans amount to a destruction of the cultural landmark. 

“It will be a mistake to close down Emek,” Costa-Gavras, best known for his political films, including “Z,” said at the protest. Mike Newell and Jan Ole Gerster were other international filmmakers at the protest, which took place on the second weekend of the Istanbul International Film Festival. Turkish actors Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Serra Yılmaz and Cem Davran, as well as directors Ezel Akay and Erden Kıral, were also in the crowd. 

British director and BAFTA laureate Mike Newell, Chilean screenwriter and director Marco Bechis and German director Jan Ole Gerster were also among the group. 

Yılmaz said the current plans were unacceptable. “They say they are protecting Emek Theater. But [Culture and Tourism] Minister Ömer Çelik, have you seen the renovation plans? Emek Theater will only be protected if its doors are open to the streets,” she said.