Magazine article Screen International

Istanbul Film Festival Kicks off One Year on from Censorship Debacle

Magazine article Screen International

Istanbul Film Festival Kicks off One Year on from Censorship Debacle

Article excerpt

The 35th Istanbul Film Festival kicked offlast night [Wed 6] with two screenings of JeffNichols' drama sci-fiMidnight Special.

Fifteen films will compete for the International Golden Tulip including Berlin favourite United States of Love, Olmo Omerzu's Family Film and Brady Corbet's directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader.

Among 11 films competing in the National Golden Tulip competition, four are world premieres: Cemil Ağacıkoğlu's The Field follows a man in a spiral of debt; Adnan Akdağ's My Own Life sees a student trying to film his own life; Tayfur Aydın's Black Crow about an Iranian actress forbidden from returning to Iran; and Seren Yüce's Swaying Waterlily, which sees two fortysomething friends turn into writing rivals.

The popular and prestigious festival's industry forum Meetings on The Bridge, the platform for bringing together filmmakers and film institutions from Turkey and its neighbours with the international film industry, runs April 8-14.

Increased security

However, this year's festival is contending with the joint spectres of terror attacks and government censorship.

Security is being tightened at the festival following two terrorist attacks in Istanbul in the past three months. Last month, Turkey's capital Ankara was also subject to a bombing which killed more than 30 people.

"At every screening room, there will be X-ray and body searches, like in Cannes and what happens in Israel," artistic director Kerem Ayan told Screen.

"Industry guests had written to us, asking what we were going to do about security. The screening rooms will be secure."

Ayan admits that there have been a number of industry delegates who have pulled out of going to the festival, particularly Americans.

"But so far from Europe, the Middle East and the Balkans, there have not been very many cancellations," he added.

Censorship

Ayan was appointed director of the festival after the previous head Azize Tan stepped down in October.

The handover followed last year's fateful 34th edition, when dozens of Turkish film-makers withdrew their films in protest over the removal of a documentary from the programme, leading to the cancellation of the festival's competitions and closing ceremony.

Cayan Demirel and Ertugul Mavioglu's documentary, North (Bakur), deals with the daily life of three Kurdish guerrilla fighters in the north of Turkey and was set to be screened halfway through the festival. …

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