The Politicisation and ‘Occupy’sation of the Istanbul Film Festival Audience

Ozge Ozduzen

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This paper aims to reveal the impact of film festivals as powerful political weapons today, challenging the conservative and neo-liberal ideologies. The reason behind this challenge is the availability of films from around the world, the multiplicity of events and protests attached to the film festivals and their ability to create collectivity and solidarity. My film festival ethnography during the Istanbul Film Festival shows that the rise of the Islamist/neo-liberal ideology and the policies of the current government in Turkey, especially related to the urban structure and movie theatres, initiated wide-ranging political activism from the public, including the Istanbul Film Festival audience. From 2010 onwards, the Istanbul Film Festival audience started to take political action and created social protests against the demolition of the Emek movie theatre, which was one of the last remaining large format movie theatres in Istanbul. This audience also participated in the much larger uprising of the Occupy Gezi Park. The political activism of the Istanbul Film Festival audience transformed their engagement with the film festival. In this research, film festivals are discussed as sites of resistance but also parts of the capitalist market economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-702
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2015


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