TORONTO – Plans for a January release of Atom Egoyan’s film Ararat in Turkey have reportedly been cancelled, a week after the government had approved the screening.
A Turkish extremist group has published a statement on its website threatening theatre owners who screen the film, which examines the impact of the Armenian genocide by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. Turkey has long denied responsibility for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, and extremists strongly oppose any discussion of the issue.
“People who dare show the movie…should not forget that there is a price for enmity towards the Turks,” reads the statement from Ulku Ocaklari, a far-right national party.
The Turkish distributor of Ararat has reportedly backed out of the opening of the film in Ankara and Istanbul on Jan. 16.
Istemihan Talay, Turkey’s former culture minister, called the film “propaganda,” but the new AKP Islamist Party government, which is preparing a bid to join the European Union, approved the screening in an attempt to broaden freedom for artists.
Toronto-based Egoyan is of Armenian descent but was raised in Canada. Ararat premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and, later that year, opened the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Armenian National Committee of Canada has stated that the “terrorist-style threats” are preventing people from learning the truth about the country’s violent past.