Directors withdraw from Golden Orange Film Festival upon removal of documentary on dismissed civil servants from program

Several feature, documentary and short film directors have withdrawn from the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival after “Kanun Hükmü” (“The Decree”), a documentary about the struggle of two civil servants dismissed by a decree-law after the 2016 coup attempt, was removed from the program. In a statement, the directors said they see the move “a direct threat to artistic freedom of expression.”

Duvar English

Several directors and producers on Sept. 27 withdrew from the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival upon the removal of a documentary from the selection. 

In a statement, feature, documentary and short film directors and producers said they see the removal of the film “Kanun Hükmü” (“The Decree”) “a direct threat to artistic freedom of expression.” 

The film focuses on two of the thousands of civil servants who were dismissed from their positions by decree laws under the state of emergency declared after the coup attempt in 2016,

“We firmly believe that it is unacceptable for festivals, which inherently belong to society, to surrender to censorship,” they said and added that they will not participate in the festival unless the documentary is reinstated to the program again.

The documentary was removed from the program on the grounds that the judicial process was continuing against a person in the documentary.

Previously, several jury members announced that they withdrew from the festival upon the removal.

Festival sources stated that the decision to exclude the film from the selection was based on an instruction from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. They said the ministry reached out to Antalya Metropolitan Municipality and told them that it would withdraw its financial support if the documentary film were not removed from the selection.

Following the coup attempt in 2016, dozens of decree laws were issued by the President with the powers granted by the state of emergency. In four years, at least 125,000 civil servants were dismissed.

Although these civil servants were alleged to be members of the Gülen network, which Ankara refers to as the Fettulahist Terorist Organization (FETÖ), there were also many civil servants among them who were members of opposition unions or opposing views against the current government.

Those dismissed from their positions were deprived of many of their civil rights and experienced a "civil death."