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cbc: Turkish release of Ararat postponed indefinitely

CBC News Online

ANKARA – The Turkish release of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat has been
postponed indefinitely because the distributor fears violence from
the country’s nationalist groups.

According to Turkish news reports, right-wing extremists have
threatened to prevent screenings of the film, which they consider
anti-Turkish propaganda.

The movie is controversial because its subject is the campaign from
1915 to 1923 to force Armenians from eastern Turkey that left 1.5
million people dead.

Turkey denies it attempted genocide, saying the death toll is
inflated and that the killings were the result of civil unrest.

Egoyan, who is based in Toronto, is of Armenian heritage. He has also
directed films like The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica.

Turkey’s government had approved the film for release after one
scene, which depicted Ottoman soldiers raping Armenian women, was
cut.

Sabahattin Cetin, the owner of the company that bought the Turkish
rights to Ararat, said in a television interview he would put off
releasing the film.

“Would you want to watch a movie in a movie theatre that could be
stoned or where there could be violence?” he asked.

He added that the government had offered to deploy police officers at
theatres, which he declined.

Cetin said he had asked the leader of the far-right Nationalist
Movement Party, Devlet Bahceli, to convince nationalists to stop
their threats against the film.

But Bahceli said he never received such a request, and questioned
Cetin’s motives for trying to screen the film.

“It would be in our interest to investigate why a film that is
against the Turkish nation has been imported into Turkey,” Bahceli
said.

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