Egypt's Alexandria Film Festival Reinstates Turkish Competition Film

Reis Celik's "Night of Silence," about child brides, will be part of the event after an international media outcry.

GYDNIA, Poland – Egypt's Alexandria International Film Festival has reversed a decision to cut a Turkish film from its competition lineup.

After an international media outcry, the festival has reinstated Reis Celik's film Night of Silence, about child brides. Last month it pulled the movie, citing political reasons after a breakdown in relations between the two countries over July's military coup in Cairo.

On Tuesday, the fest said it had reconsidered the decision following global media stories about the incident.

The festival's international communications manager, Jihan Abdel Latif, said that after reading stories in international media outlets, including The Hollywood Reporter, it had reconsidered the decision to exclude the film. There was also pressure at home, with Egyptian film and culture blogs picking up on the story and expressing dismay.

One site, Cairo Gossip, sarcastically remarked of the decision: "The festival has been known to seek the most innovative and groundbreaking films. But with this move it has all but betrayed the spirits of its aim -- to strengthen and build the film community in the Mediterranean region. Well done, you've made Egypt very proud."

The movie, which focuses on the fears of a pubescent girl forced to marry a man more than 50 years older soon after his release from a long jail sentence, will now be in competition at the festival, which is due to open its 29th edition on Wednesday.

Although the subject matter was likely to be controversial for Arab audiences, it was Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition to the military coup that took advantage of their leader Mohamed Morsi's ousting on July 3 that led Alexandria, Egypt's second oldest festival, to announce the withdrawal of the film last month.

Celik has accepted the festival's decision but does not plan to go to Alexandria in person.

Meanwhile, the 36th edition of Cairo's International Film Festival, which was originally planned for November, has been rescheduled for September 2014 due to the political unrest in the country. It's the second time in two years the festival has been canceled. It was called off after the 2011 uprising that led to the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak.

 

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