Istanbul Film Festival Director Responds to Censorship Allegations

Following criticism by LGBTI organizations that Istanbul Film Festival translator censored Sir Ian McKellen’s “as an openly gay man,” the festival’s director Kerem Ayan spoke to dispel censorship allegations and said the festival supports LGBTI movies.  

Kerem Ayan, Istanbul Film Festival Director:

If I may, I want to make a short statement, as I have the opportunity to speak in a conference hall full of people here. Some of you might have seen on social media yesterday. They said, “Ian McKellen said that he was an openly gay man during the opening ceremony of Istanbul Film Festival and that the festival censored it.”

I laughed a lot when I first heard it. I thought, “our audience actually knows who we are, this cannot be true.” Then, we saw that people actually don’t know who we are. This became a big issue on social media.

Why would we censor a person who we invited as a defender of LGBT rights, when we also have a “Where are you my love?” [LGBTI movies] part in the festival. That would be interesting.

I was on the stage, the translator was really just next to me, we were not able to hear clearly what Ian McKellen was saying. There was an acoustic problem and the translator skipped it. It was an unfortunate skip. We didn’t understand why people were reacting and we continued. Later we explained to him the situation as well.

Here, I would like to say again, as Istanbul Film Festival, we neither interfere with our guests’ sexual identities, nor do we prevent them from expressing it clearly. I want that to be known.

On social media, they also wrote that Istanbul Film Festival was “homophobic.” That’s interesting. Now, if you allow me, I would like to invite Ian McKellen to the stage. This would be an answer to those who call us “homophobic.” I hope you will join me.

  • Kerem Ayan: Where are you my love?
  • Crowd: I am here, my love!
  • Sir Ian McKellen: I am here, my love! [1]

Maybe he wants to say a few words.

Sir Ian McKellen:

What a wonderful privilege it is to be in your beautiful city. Invited first by the festival as a film actor and before I knew what was happening, I was meeting the ambassador from my country to your country and the British Council.

[1] “Where are you my love?” or “Nerdesin Aşkım?” and the response “I am here, my love?” or “Buradayım Aşkım” are popular slogans in Turkey chanted by LGBTI individuals and allies.

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