Golden Orange Film Festival pulls documentary about dismissal of civil servants from lineup upon ministry's instruction

"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 selection of the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival “on the grounds that there was a judicial process against one of the people in the film.”

Duvar English

The film "Kanun Hükmü/The Decree," which had been selected for the national documentary competition at the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, was removed from the festival's lineup due to “an ongoing legal process involving a person featured in the documentary.”

The documentary 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.

The film festival’s director Ahmet Boyacıoğlu said, "In order not to affect the judicial process and impartiality on a matter that has been submitted to the judiciary, it has been decided to exclude the film from this year's selection. We strongly believe in the independence of cinema and that artists should be able to reflect their ideas freely." 

He claimed that the film would be screened in Antalya province where the festival takes place after the judicial process regarding the person in the documentary was completed.

On the other hand, the film’s director stated that the dismissed doctor Yasemin Demirci and teacher Engin Karataş, who are the focus of the documentary, were not facing trial.

She added they had applied to the Constitutional Court due to the ban on the documentary while it was in the production process, and said, "The Constitutional Court evaluated my film within the framework of freedom of expression, freedom of science and art and decided that the decision to ban was unconstitutional and the authorities should award me a compensation.” 

The director emphasized that even there would be a legal process about one of the characters, this should not concern the festival.

The jury members from several competition categories of the festival also said "we stand by our colleague" in their statements and added, “We will fulfill our duties at the festival only if The Decree is reinstated in the Documentary Competition selection.” 

Speaking to Gazete Duvar, festival sources claimed that the decision to exclude the film from the selection was based on an instruction from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. 

The same sources claimed that 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.

It was also claimed that the Antalya Governor's Office contacted the festival management and stated that they would ban and prevent the festival if the film were not removed from the selection.

Following the coup attempt, 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 Fettulahist Terorist Organization (FETÖ) members, there were also many civil servants among them who are member 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."