150 filmmakers, critics say they will boycott Antalya festival until censorship is lifted

Some 150 film professionals and institutions from Turkey, including documentary directors, critics and festival organizers, have announced that they will not be attending the Antalya International Film Festival until the festivaland’s management lifts its censorship of domestically produced documentaries.
The group said in an open letter issued on Wednesday that the festival is imposing a collective embargo on the countryand’s documentary makers, referring to the festivaland’s recent overhaul of its program, in which it canceled the national documentary feature competition altogether and merged it with its national feature-length competition.
The overhaul, announced in September, comes exactly one year after a censorship scandal at the 2014 event, when organizers wanted to remove a documentary about Turkeyand’s nationwide Gezi Park protests of 2013 from the lineup for political reasons. All but two titles on the bill were withdrawn from the 2014 festival by their makers in protest, forcing the organizers to eventually cancel last yearand’s competition.
The festival management has, since September, been defending the change, which they say and”is aimed at freeing the documentary genre from the limitations of a single competitive sectionand” and that documentaries are and”welcome in various competitive and non-competitive sectionsand” of the festival, formerly known as the Altin Portakal (Golden Orange) Festival.
Those who signed Wednesdayand’s open letter, including the organizers of the annual Documentarist Istanbul Documentary Days and and”Which Human Rights?and” film festivals and the Labor Film Festival, say the inclusion of documentaries in other sections of the Antalya festival is and”nothing but a scam.and”
and”For several andlsquoharmlessand’ documentaries to be handpicked by the [Antalya film] festival committee to be featured in the program as andlsquospecial screeningsand’ doesnand’t mean that the festival is embracing documentary as a genre,and” read the groupand’s letter, shared on Twitter and other social media platforms.
h2 and’Descendant of a repressive mentalityand’h2 and”Film festivals andhellip are public events where documentaries get the rare opportunity of theatrical screening. In a country where more than 100 documentaries are produced on a yearly basis despite all the obstacles, it is unacceptable for festivals that are funded by public money to shun documentary directors and prevent their films from reaching festivalgoers,and” the group wrote.
and”We know that the festival [managementand’s] attitude is the direct descendant of a repressive mentality, which for years has been jailing critical journalists and silencing andhellip critical news outlets, especially for the past one year,and” the group wrote, noting that they would not be attending any events as part of the Antalya Film Festival until the festival stops its censorship.
There was no official word from the festival management regarding the protest letter as of Friday afternoon, aside from a news release they issued Friday morning, in which they announced that this yearand’s national feature-length film competition jury would be headed by director-producer and scriptwriter andOmer Vargi.
Vargi is best known as the director of the 1998 comedy and”Her iey andcok Ganduzel Olacakand” (Everythingand’s Gonna Be Great), starring Cem Yilmaz and Mazhar Alanson and a co-director of the 2003 crime comedy and”iniaatand” (Under Construction), starring Emre Kinay and ievket andcoruh.
The 52nd Antalya International Film Festival will take place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN