Turkey 'genocide' film is dropped


January 9, 2004

The release of a movie that tackles one of the most controversial periods in Turkish history has been scrapped in the country after fears of violence.

Turkish nationalist groups had vowed to keep the film, Ararat, off screens, according to distributor Belge Film.

Ararat is about the 1915 deaths of up to 1.5 million people, which Armenians claim amounted to genocide by Turks.

Turkey disagrees, and Belge Film pulled the movie because it said it did not want to have police at the screenings.

The film was directed by Atom Egoyan, a Canadian of Armenian origin.

Armenians say the deaths, which occurred before the Ottoman Empire became present-day Turkey, were organised genocide.

But the Turkish Government says it was a civil war and a military reaction to Armenian insurrection as rebels sided with invading Russian troops.
France, Argentina and Russia are among 15 countries that recognise the killings as genocide, and the Swiss parliament voted to do the same before Christmas.

The Armenian National Committee of Canada said a Turkish far-right nationalist party had threatened distributors and cinema owners, the Canadian Press reported.

And posters also appeared in Turkish capital Istanbul showing an "X" through the title of the film and the words: "It will never happen."
In a statement, Belge Film said: "Part of our society has given undeserved importance to this insignificant movie and has raised objections to its screening. We cannot ignore this sensitivity.
"But because we deem it unbecoming for a modern society to have people watching a film in the presence of police, we have cancelled the screening of the film, complying with the wishes of citizens who are against it."