Censorship at the Golden Orange Film Festival: What’s going on?

The Festival’s censorship against the documentary “The Decree” (Kanun Hükmü) was met with disapproval and solidarity from the arts community. After the jury members resigned, many directors and producers withdrew their films from the festival. Subsequently, the documentary was taken back to the festival. This time the Ministry of Culture and Tourism withdrew its support from the festival, accusing it of “terror propaganda”

Recently, director Nejla Demirci announced that her documentary “The Decree” was excluded from the National Documentary Competition Selection of the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. Jury members issued a press release stating they could not continue their task unless the film were taken back in. The Festival had justified its decision, alleging that a person featured in the documentary had an “ongoing judicial process”.

A group of directors and producers whose films were included in the festival released a statement on September 27, stating, “We see the removal of the film ‘The Decree’ from the competition program as a clear threat to freedom of artistic expression.” With this statement, they announced that their films were withdrawn from the festival as a response to censorship.

The next day, Antalya Film Festival Director Ahmet Boyacıoğlu stated that the documentary was reinstated to the festival “as it was documented that the judicial process regarding the person in the documentary is not continuing”. The reaction they received upon their initial decision or the festival’s censorship attempt was not mentioned, and neither was an apology issued.

The same day the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a statement: “It is extremely regrettable that the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival was instrumental in making propaganda for the FETÖ terrorist organization. We are not a part of the effort to use art as an element of provocation, and we have withdrawn from the festival.” With these words, the Ministry both revealed the source of the censorship and withdrew from the festival by trying to criminalize the entire organisation, especially the “The Decree” cast and crew.