ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s Culture Ministry has agreed to allow a movie about the killings of Armenians at the time of World War I to be shown in Turkey but at least one scene will be cut from the film, an official said Tuesday.
The film Ararat, by director Atom Egoyan, a Canadian of Armenian heritage, recalls the plight of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey at the time of World War I.
Armenians say that a 1915-1923 campaign to force Armenians out of eastern Turkey left 1.5 million people dead and amounted to genocide.
Turkey says the figures are inflated and that Armenians died during civil unrest and not as the result of a planned campaign.
A ministry commission, which reviewed the movie last week, said it was suitable for viewing in Turkey but added that at least one scene depicting the rape of Armenian women by Ottomans would be censored, a Culture Ministry spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The film is expected to open in Turkey in mid-January.
Culture and Tourism Minister Erkan Mumcu expressed support for showing the movie in Turkey.
Turkey “can easily tolerate such things,” Mumcu told reporters on Friday. “Those who want to see it can go and see the movie … Strong reaction to this movie would only help keep the subject on the agenda.”
Former Turkish Culture Minister Istemihan Talay had denounced the movie, which was shown at the Cannes film festal last year, as “propaganda.”
Turkey’s new government, which assumed power last year, has pledged to expand freedom of expression as part of its bid to join the European Union.