A group of activists, musicians and cinephiles from Emek Bizim Initiative invaded Istanbul's historical Emek Movie Theater on Sunday afternoon, launching an alternative opening ceremony for the ongoing Istanbul Film Festival.
Established in 1924, Emek Movie Theater served as Istanbul's main hub for cinephiles and major film festivals.
In 2010 Beyoğlu Municipality announced a reconstruction plan for Emek Movie Theater building, which would transform the almost-century old movie theater into a shopping mall.
Roughly 50 demonstrators demolished the gates and entered the reconstruction site. Both police forces and demonstrators held barricades confronting each other from going in and out of the reconstruction site.
While a smaller group of protestors hang a banner on the top of the movie theater building, others joined them with slogans.
The protest ended towards 8pm at local time. "Today, we proved that we can take different and efficient actions to save the Emek Movie Theater. Our struggle will continue," protestors said in a statement following their protest.
"We have left the movie theater building with historical movie seats and banners that wished spectators a nice movie.
Another protest at official festival opening
"With their license approved by Beyoğlu Municipality, Kamer Construction Ltd. started the demolition of the movie theater. This is our last chance to save our Emek Movie Thater," Emek Bizim Initiave said a statement, prior to their protest in Sunday.
"They are demolishing a public movie theater before our eyes by disregarding law and public service. But we - the real owners of Emek Movie Theater - wont lower our voices. We are calling to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Culture Ministry here: We won't give up! We are opening the Istanbul Film Festival at where it is supposed to open. We will gather at Emek Movie Theater on March 31 at 5pm. For us, it will the real opening of the festival." (HK)
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