Turkey Bans Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac'

"Nymphomaniac"
"Nymphomaniac"
 

Turkey has banned Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, saying the film's extensive nudity and explicit sex scenes make it more porn than art.

The first half of the controversial two-part feature, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac and also featuring Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater and Uma Thurman, was set to go out in Turkey March 14, with Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2 planned for a March 21 bow. But Turkey's film board this week banned the film outright, voting six to two to classify Nymphomaniac as pornography.

The board includes members of Turkey's cultural, interior and education ministries as well as a psychologist and a sociologist, who watched the film to see if it met Turkey's standards for theatrical release.

“This film is in the porn category … because of its explicit sexual scenes,” Turkey's cinema general director Cem Erkul told Agence France-Presse. “It also depicts extreme violence against women.”

But Yamac Okur, a dissenting member of the board, said the decision was tantamount to "censorship,” tweeting after the ruling that “barring any cinema movie from commercial screening is unacceptable.”

Tweeted acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose Three Monkeys won the best director honor in Cannes in 2008: "I strongly condemn the ban on the film Nymphomaniac while there is in fact a policy in place on age limit.”

Before the board's ruling, it was expected that Nymphomaniac would receive an 18-plus rating, meaning no one younger than 18 would be allowed to see it.

The ruling is certain to reignite debate in Turkey about the cultural influence of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan's conservative party has dominated Turkey's political scene for more than a decade and is largely credited with overseeing the country's recent economic boom. But many accuse him of harboring a secret Islamic agenda and wanting to impose restrictions on cultural life in Turkey, which is majority Muslim but staunchly secular.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 bowed in Denmark on Christmas Day, 2013. The director's cut of Vol.1 had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival last month, where Shia LaBeouf hijacked the gala for his own publicity stunt -- storming out of the Nymphomaniac press conference and attending the red-carpet premiere wearing a paper bag bearing the words "I'm not famous anymore."

Turkey's Nymphomaniac ban applies only to the theatrical release of the film. Nymphomaniac will still screen as planned at the Istanbul Film Festival in April.

The ruling follows a similar ban imposed by Romania earlier this year, which would have blocked the theatrical release of Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2. The local distributor, however, successfully appealed that ban and the movie went out as planned. 

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