Documentary exclusion sparks outcry at the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival
The film community is in an uproar following the removal of Nejla Demirci's documentary "Kanun Hukmu" from the selection of the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. The festival jury responded to the move with a unified statement against the decision and resigned collectively. This led to a chain reaction of denouncements from major industry unions and associations, including Sine-Sen, the Actors' Union, the Documentary Filmmakers' Union, SİYAD, and Senarist-Bir.
The Free Art Assembly, an amalgamation of artists from various disciplines, was next to voice its objection. In a penned statement, members of the assembly articulated their stance: "The Golden Orange Film Festival's exclusion of 'Kanun Hukmu' represents yet another instance of suppressing a work chosen by a preliminary jury. We interpret this as an assault on artistic expression and creativity and a move to normalize censorship across artistic fields. We decry this oppressive environment and stand with the jury and others who resist such overreach. Let's unite against forces trying to smother the uninhibited spirit of art."
Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival Director Ahmet Boyacioglu justified the exclusion, stating a legal case was underway concerning an individual depicted in "Kanun Hukmu". He said the festival intended "to safeguard the ongoing judicial process and its impartiality. We remain steadfast believers in the autonomy of cinema and the artist's right to unfettered expression. The documentary will debut in Antalya once the legal proceedings concerning the person in question are resolved."
However, Nejla Demirci countered this explanation. She denied any legal complications associated with the featured individual, branding the festival's decision as sheer censorship. She noted, "The festival's reasoning took me by surprise. Our film was showcased in both Amsterdam and Germany. As they suggest, there's no pending case; Dr. Yasemin Demirci was reinstated. The Constitutional Court's official page even carries a verdict to this effect. Despite our chosen film, the festival saw it fit to drop it from the lineup."
In a show of unity and support for Demirci, jury members collectively withdrew from their roles, asserting they wouldn't return unless the festival management reconsidered its stance.