Sevan Ataoglu brought the Turkish movie to
the Film Festival.
The showing of a Turkish-produced movie at the
film festival "Private Look" in Yerevan
was interrupted and stopped Tuesday when some
100 members of a student union stood up during
the screening, shouted protests and distributed
The disruption came about three minutes into
"The Photo", a film by Turkish director
Kazim Oz depicting Turkish-Kurdish relations and
the friendship between two young men from hostile
The film was being shown on the last day of the
five-day film festival which presented features
and documentaries from seven countries.
"We won't allow presentation of the Turkish
movie in Armenia," shouted a leader of "Nikol
Aghbalyan", a student organization affiliated
with the Dashnak party of Armenia. "It is
a shame to watch a Turkish movie on April 22,
and then to grieve for the innocent victims on
Foreign guests and members of Armenia's Kurdish
community were present for the screening and were
encouraging organizers to continue the showing.
Their calls to see the movie were drowned out
by the shouts of the students who were also singing
nationalistic songs. Police could not manage to
subdue the protest.
Director of the festival, Hovhanes Galstyan said
the action was not patriotic, but ignorant.
"When the same people who organized that
action today wear clothes made in Turkey or use
any kind of things produced in Turkey, why don't
they want to accept that production of movies
also can and must find a place here," he
This year's festival was the third time such
an event has been organized in Armenia and is
the second time a Turkish work as been part of
Last year "Mammy" by Turkish director
Ozkan Alper was shown without incident to a full
hall and was honored with "Best National
Movie" by the organizational committee.
of the festival gathered in the hall of Cinema
Before Wednesday's interruption, "Private
Look" festival organizers were in negotiations
with "Tursak" organization from Ankara,
discussing possibilities of arranging days of
Armenian movies in Ankara and Turkish movies in
Yerevan later this year.
"The Turkish side is ready for this action
and is disposed very seriously," Galstyan
said. "But this incident showed that the
Armenian audience is not ready yet to organize
days of culture with Turkey and I think that this
project for the present moment won't be formed.
In Turkey days of Armenian films will be organized
but not here."
Kurdish student Asram Musutyan, who came to watch
the movie with great interest, found difficulty
in commenting on what he had seen.
"Turks are our enemies as well but the
culture is different," he said. "It
becomes possible to soften sharp edges, and the
performance of this movie is a striking example
of that," he said.
Presentation of the Turkish movie was not the
only surprise of the festival. The first Chechen
modern movie was presented by Georgia as well.
"Private Look" is the only international
cinema festival founded and operating in the Caucuses
region after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It aims to facilitate formation of independent
movie production traditions, establishment of
connections between producers, and experience
exchange between Armenia, counties of CIS and
former socialist countries of Eastern Europe.
However, Azerbaijan was missing among three Caucasian
countries. Organizers of this year's festival
did not invite Azerbaijan after their invitations
were declined on the two previous years.
Bulgaria won the festival's prize of "Best
Project". Other winners included Georgian
director Zaza Urushadze who won "Audience
Favorite", Vilnis Kalnielis of Latvia won
"Best Animation", and in spite of the
controversy "The Photo" won "The
"The language of art is an intermediary
and is simply a bridge allowing finding cultural
and even political foundations with Turkey,"
says Susanna Harutyunyan, head of the Cinematologists'
and Cinema Critic's Association of Armenia.