Turkish Cinema: Open Letter

April 17, 2015

Following the blocking of the screening of films at the 34th Istanbul Film Festival, filmmakers have displayed a determined act of solidarity against censorship. Demanding a festival without censorship, many films in the festival program, and also the juries of the national and international competition have withdrawn from the festival, and all the competition-related programs and the closing ceremony of the festival have been cancelled. A first in the history of the festival, this is the latest link in the chain of censorship and control mechanisms both film and other branches of culture and arts are being subjected to. Filmmakers and professional organizations have previously presented many proposals to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the laws and related regulations that enable censorship to be changed; however, unfortunately, no concrete step has been taken on behalf of the Ministry to provide a solution.
 
Our film industry has achieved many significant successes in the international field in recent years. One of the most important tasks of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism should be to produce and implement policies necessary to sustain this advance in our cinema. Within this scope, the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is to encourage free artistic production by filmmakers and enable films thus produced to freely meet with their audience.
 
In the light of this recent event, we would like to remind the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the public, of our demands regarding the issue:
 
1. Classification and evaluation regulations related to the official registration of cinema films must be rearranged in the light of scientific criteria and international practices.
 
2. Local films screened at film festivals, or all types of similar cultural and artistic events should, as is the case with foreign films, meet their audience without the requirement of any official documents, on the basis of the account of the filmmakers, and under the responsibility of the managements of such festivals or events.
 
3. The authority of the assessment boards of the Ministry to issue prohibition decisions regarding the commercial circulation and screening of films must be revoked.
 
4. The Film Law, currently in draft, should be revised in consultation with film institutions and must come into force in the shortest possible time.
 
5. Work must be carried out with the ultimate aim of founding the Film Institution of Turkey.
 
We invite the Minister of Culture and Tourism to organize an urgent meeting with professional bodies for the immediate change of laws and regulations that enable censorship.
 
We, the filmmakers, film critics, professional bodies, unions and festivals that have signed below, declare in the presence of the public once again that we stand against all types of implementations that constitute censorship, and that we will continue with determination and solidarity to defend our professional freedom under any condition whatsoever.
 
15 April 2015

SIGNATORY INSTITUTIONS AND ESTABLISHMENTS

!f istanbul Uluslarasi Bagimsiz Filmler Festivali (!f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival)
Altyazi Aylik Sinema Dergisi (Altyazi Monthly Film Magazine)
Anadolu Kültür
Ankara Sinema Dernegi (ASD–Ankara Cinema Association)
Ankara Uluslararasi Film Festivali (AUFF – Ankara International Film Festival)
Belgesel Sinemacilar Birligi (BSB – The Association of Documentary Filmmakers in Turkey)
Büyülü Fener Kültür Sanat Dernegi (BFKSD – Society for Culture and Arts Magic Lantern)
Canlandiranlar Yetenek Kampi ve Festivali (Canlandiranlar Talent Camp and Festival)
Çagdas Sinema Oyunculari Dernegi (ÇASOD – Contemporary Screen Actors’ Guild)
Canlandiranlar Dernegi (Canlandiranlar Animation Association)
Documentarist Uluslararasi Belgesel Film Festivali (Documentarist International
Documentary Festival)
Filmmor Kadin Filmleri Festivali (International Filmmor Women’s Film Festival)
Film Yönetmenleri Dernegi (FILMYÖN–Film Directors Guild)
Gezici Festival (Festival on Wheels)
Görüntü Yönetmenleri Dernegi (Turkish Cinematographers Guild)
Hangi Insan Haklari Film Festivali (Which Human Rights? Film Festival)
Inönü Üniversitesi Uluslararasi Kisa Film Festivali (Inonu University International Short Film Festival)
Isçi Filmleri Festivali (Labor Film Festival)
Istanbul Film Festivali (Istanbul Film Festival)
Istanbul Uluslararasi Kisa Film Festivali (Istanbul International Short Film Festival)
Kisa Filmciler Dernegi (Short Filmmakers Association)
Oyuncular Sendikasi (Actors Union)
Senaryo ve Diyalog Yazari Sinema Eseri Sahipleri Meslek Birligi (SENARISTBIR–
Screenwriters and Dialog Writers Film Works Owners Guild)
Senaryo Yazarlari Dernegi (SEN-DER–Screenwriters Association)
Sinema Emekçileri Sendikasi (SINESEN–Film Laborers Union)
Sinema Eseri Yapimcilari Meslek Birligi (SE-YAP– Film Producers’ Association of Turkey)
Sinema Oyunculari Dernegi (SODER–Screen Actors Association)
Sinema Oyunculari Meslek Birligi (BIROY–Film Actors Society)
Sinema Yazarlari Dernegi (SIYAD– Turkish Film Critics Association)
Siyah Bant (Black Ribbon)
Türkiye Sinema ve Audiovisuel Kültür Vakfi (TÜRSAK– Turkish Foundation of Cinema and
Audio-visual Culture)
Uçan Süpürge Kadin Filmleri Festivali (Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival)
Uluslararasi 1001 Belgesel Film Festivali (International 1001 Documentary Film Festival)
Uluslararasi Suç ve Ceza Film Festivali (International Crime and Punishment Film Festival)
Yeni Film Fonu (The New Film Fund)
Yeni Film Dergisi (Yeni Film Cinema Magazine)
Yeni Sinema Hareketi (YSH–The New Film Movement)
Yesilçam Sinemasi (Yesilçam Movie Theatre)