March 17, 2015

13+ age restriction for Selam movie draws reactions from film critics

Age restrictions by Turkey's state-run Cinema Evaluation and Classification Board have drawn reactions from film critics as “Selam: Bahara Yolculuk” (Journey to Spring) -- a new feature film directed by Turkish actor-director Hamdi Alkan, and which opened in Turkey on March 13 -- has been issued a 13+ age rating.

Atilla Dorsay, a veteran Turkish film critic, told Today's Zaman on Tuesday that it is strange to see a 13+ age rating for the Selam film, which takes a serious and emotional look at the hardships faced by those founding Turkish schools abroad, schools that were rhapsodized by many people in and outside Turkey for a quarter of a century. Dorsay said there is nothing unfavorable for children below the age of 13 in the fact-based Selam series.

Contrary to the age rating decision on Selam, the board in February 2014 issued an age rating of 7+ for “Recep İvedik 4” by Turkish comedian Şahan Gökbakar. That film follows the absurd adventures of an incredibly rude, ignorant and ugly man named Recep İvedik.

In April 2014 “İtirazım Var” (Let's Sin), an action-comedy in which an imam embarks on an adventure to solve a murder committed at his mosque, received an 18+ rating from the classification board, which was later revised to 15+ after the filmmaker's appeal.

Turkey's state-run board has nine members, three of whom are bureaucrats from the Culture and Tourism, Education and Interior Ministries. The board also includes a sociologist, a psychologist and one expert on child development, as well as three other members from relevant professional trade unions chosen by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Uğur Vardan, a well-known film critic currently writing for the Hürriyet daily, told Today's Zaman that the classifications are part of an obvious political reaction of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against those who oppose it. According to Vardan, it is easier for the board to decide on an age restriction for a movie that has some adult content, but it is more difficult when a movie features content disliked by the ruling party.

Foreign-based Turkish schools are established by people inspired by the views of the prominent Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the inspiration behind the Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement. The movement is a faith-based civic movement that advocates science education and charity as well as moderation and a corruption-free government. It also promotes interfaith dialogue and the resolution of problems through peaceful means throughout the world.

Since a major graft probe was revealed on Dec. 17, 2013, AK Party circles and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have accused members of the Gülen movement, especially sympathizers in the judiciary and police forces, of attempting to overthrow the government. Sons of ministers, politicians, businessmen and members of the AK Party, and Erdoğan's inner circle, were detained during the investigation.

More than 418,000 watch Selam movie in opening weekend.

Despite the age restriction imposed by the board, 418,557 people watched the movie Selam in its opening three days from March 13.

In 2013 the first version of the Selam series, “Selam” (Greeting), told the stories of volunteers who embraced humanity outside Turkey's borders. The movie was appreciated not for its cinematic qualities, but for the sake of the beloved memories of those pioneers who went to territories they knew very little about to open Turkish schools.

Selam: Bahara Yolculuk” follows up that film and takes viewers back to the beginning of the story, the telling of which was actually a bit fragmented in the first film. More than 2.1 million people watched the first Selam movie in 2013 when it showed for three months.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 March 2015, Tuesday

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