For freedom, democracy, justice, secular social state, enrepreneurship:

Let's save Emek movie palace from demolition and turn it into a film center!


Our struggle to save Emek movie theater from Wall Street based financial speculation is the biggest of its kind in terms of duration, scope and intensity and already made history of world cinema theater preservation efforts!

In its 3rd year with our petition, blogs, Twitter campaigns, 5 marches, countless meetings, mini protests, many short films and a song. Publicly owned Emek cinema (Labor cinema in Turkish) is the biggest, oldest and most important movie theater in Turkey as it was the center of international film festivals.

The theather is not yet saved and our struggle goes on.

May 11, 2012 Unfortunately, land speculating construction company Turkmall still insists on demolition. It had already announced that it could be restored and there were no technical hurdles. Unfortunately authorities still support the demolition of this publicly owned theater which will earn the construction company and other companies in the project more money.

April 15, 2012 5th demonstration in just over two years against the planned demolition of Emek public cinema by big business took place in Istanbul with a march from Taksim to Beyoglu Emek cinema. Our struggle to save Emek movie theater has now entered its third year! Guest of honor of the 31. Istanbul Film Festival, famed British director Terence Davies highlighted the importance of Emek cinema and American director Whit Stillman was among Turkish moviegoers and film critics who marched in Istanbul on April 15th.

March 10, 2012 Emboldened by our determination to save Emek cinema, IKSV Istanbul Culture and Arts Foundation, reiterated its proposal to preserve not only Emek movie theater but the whole historical complex which houses Emek Movie Theater, before annoucing this year's 31. Istanbul Film Festival program. That would make Emek and two additional cinemas a prominent venue to support Turkish and international independant film and art house filmmaking. This project could place Istanbul in a prominent position in world cinema.

There is still no official reaction yet, but some positive signs are rumored to come out from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is still too early to tell, meanwhile our struggle to save Emek movie theater and support for IKSV's project goes on.

January 11, 2012 IKSV Istanbul Arts and Culture Foundation came out with an alternative proposal to preserve not only Emek movie theater but the whole historical complex which houses Emek Movie Theater. Unfortunately there is no official reaction to this proposal yet.

January 10, 2012 After two years of intense public pressure the company who prepared the demolition project and has a contract with the goverment came out with a confession, the demolition is not a technical necessity but a choice for making more money.

December 28, 2011 Turkish Association of Film Critics SIYAD, headed by its new president Tunca Arslan, is now organizing an international petition to save Emek Movie Theater.

There has been a worldwide reaction among film press members against Emek movie demolition, who had themselves watched films in Emek movie theater during Istanbul Film Festival in the past.

Among them FIPRESCI president Jean Roy, British film magazine Sight And Sound Editor in Chief Nick James, Madhu Eravankara from Kerala Film Festival, Prof. György Baron head of Hungarian film critics association, Rüdiger Suchsland from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung among many other film critics and professionals. A short wrap up from daily Hurriyet in English and a more complete list of worldwide opposition against demolition in Turkish at SIYAD (you may use an online translation tool for rough translation) Nil Kural from Milliyet newspaper has been writing articles about international significance of Emek movie theather.

December 24, 2011 Big jubilant crowds braving cold wind and occasional snow, in the biggest rally against the demolition in two years, thousands marched against the demolition of Emek Movie theater and saving it from big business. It was a festive atmosphere to the music of drums. Cinema lovers, film critics association SIYAD Members, people from different opposition groups, people against speculative investment capital which destroys cultural and historic values of Istanbul. Emek means labor in Turkish, so it was art versus money, labor against capital.

Some prominent Turkish artists, Golden Bear award winning director Semih Kaplanoglu, actors Tarik Akan, Rutkay Aziz, Memet Ali Alabora, Meltem Cumbul and Mert Firat were among the attendees.

December 11, 2011 #emeksinemasiyikilmasin and #emeknobeti has become Trending Tweet in Turkey.

December 10, 2011 Top Turkish film critic Attila Dorsay, honorary president of SIYAD, has written in his weekly column that he will quit journalism if Emek goes.

December 7, 2011 SIYAD Turkish Association of Film Critics wowed to stand againt the Emek Demolition project.

December 1, 2011 The court lifted ban against demolition, against the court appointed expert advice, thereby making the project which involves demolition possible.

October 12, 2010 Dr. Fuat Ulus, author of articles on cinema therapy called on for support for Emek Movie Palace.

May 29, 2010 Dario Bonazelli of Venice Film Festival has signed our petition.

May 28, 2010 Roberto Ellero, the director of Circuito Cinema in Venice, Italy has signed.

June 6, 2010 Italian actor Lorenzo Acquaviva has signed.

May 4, 2010 Efe Cakarel, CEO of The Auteurs an online cinema featuring top classic, art house and independant films has signed our petition!

May 3, 2010 One the most influential French film critics, Jean-Michel Frodon, who was the editor of Cahiers de Cinema and the top film critic of the leading French newspaper Le Monde, has signed our petition!

"Although we may all wish otherwise, Goldman Sachs is not the only company in the distinguished "Masters of the Universe" industry. All big American investment and banking companies can bend laws or defy nature. But nowadays they can also do time travel..." Mehmet Kurtkaya More below

Photo by Bekir Bursalı (Emek movie palace ex-employee)

World famous movie star John Malkovich has received honorary award in 2009 Istanbul Film Festival in Emek movie theater. Harvey Keitel had received the same award in 2005. World famous film directors among them Francois Ozon, Alexander Sokurov have personally presented their films to the audiences of Emek movie palace.

Below is not the translation of the Turkish version but a short summary of the situation:

The number of people who have signed the petition online and offline since its start on March 31, 2010 is over 6850. You can see the list of people who have signed it online at the Turkish version.

Emek Sinemasini Yasatalim Facebook page has over 10000 members. Almost all posts are in Turkish, while from time to time we post in English to update supporters.

Emek is almost as old as the Republic of Turkey and is known internationally. You can read about the 86 years old Emek movie theater in American blog posts on
Turner Classic Movies' official blog site or on Cinema Treasures.

Emek means labor and it now seems a little ironic that Michael Moore's Capitalism A Love Story was first shown in Turkey at this theater during 2009 October Istanbul Filmdays. Emek which belongs to the state owned pension fund was host to festivals year around, especially International Istanbul Film Festival for the last 20 years before the recent privatization deal which involves the demolishment of most registered historic buildings in this 138 year old building complex.

Some of the major beneficiaries of this project will be investment companies: Colony Capital through its Turkish investment (has sold its stake, no longer affiliated in 2011 with) Mars Entertainment, owner of the Turkish Cinebonus multiplex chain and investment banking group Blackstone through its Merlin Entertainments, owner of Madame Tussauds. Mall multiplexes and an entertainment "museum", Madame Tussauds, will be built upon the demolishment of true historic buildings as if there is no other place in the huge city of Istanbul. Unfortunately, the location of the historic buildings is right at the center of the historic and very popular Pera district.

The government, the Minister of Culture, Mayor of Istanbul and the Beyoglu Municipality where the movie palace is located, all approve or support this project with a unity very hard to see in a democracy. And it is quite tragic that High Council of Preservation of Natural and Cultural Entities approved the demolishment of the buildings itself had classified as "historic preserved" for decades.

So it seems like big American investment companies and "the extremely Wall Street friendly" Turkish government have invented time travel where once old buildings are no longer old as time passes by. One must tell Stephen Hawking he should no longer waste time on things like, well, time travel.

Speculative short term profit motive of these investment companies and their Turkish counterparts should not demolish cinema, culture and history.

Istanbul is not Dubai, built artificially on sand, it is a historic city.

Mehmet Kurtkaya

The state has recently privatized the historic building complex to an investment group and mall operator. According to the project the movie theater will be demolished and a shopping mall will be placed in its premises with chain multiplex movie theaters inside.

The company which contracted the project from the government is widely reported on the internet as Turkmall. The future operator of the movieplex which will be built inside the shopping mall is reported to be one of the two chain movie multiplex operators in Turkey, Mars Entertainment Group (known for its Cinebonus brand in Turkey) which according to their website has a few years back whose majority shares were acquired by Los Angeles based international private investment firm, Colony Capital.

According to the Turkish press reports of the project, parts of the Emek movie palace such as the ceiling and the ornaments will be removed from the theater before demolition and will be put back in place in the replica Emek theater which will be build together with other movieplex theaters in the shopping mall.

In the face of growing public criticism, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas and Beyoglu mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan have all defended the project of demolition and the building of a shopping mall in TV programs and press interviews during the week of April 4-9. The Turkish Professional Engineers and Architects Association (TMMOB) had petitioned Turkish courts on March 12, 2010 to stop the potentially imminent demolition. The Minister of Culture has stated let's pray (hope) the project will go ahead without Turkish courts stopping it.

According to the court petition presented to the Turkish court by the Turkish Professional Engineers and Architects Association the demolition is claimed to be against the European Preservation of Architectural Heritage and UNESCO heritage preservation acts signed by Turkey.

The manager of this mall project stated there is a university report that the lobby of the theater, housed in an adjacent building not the cinema building, has a static deficiency, first such report in the theater's 86 year history. Apparently this wasn't too convincing that they also claim that the seats are not clean, the airconditioning and heating doesn't work well and other reasons as if there is no such thing on earth called renovation. On the other hand, the land the cinema sits on is among the most precious in Turkey, that somehow seems a more plausible cause to many!

Unfortunately famous Turkish filmmakers and actors are mostly mum on the subject. This is a tragic silence, especially so since it takes place when Istanbul is a European city of Culture for 2010. The biggest support for the movie palace comes from film and art lovers and those who would like to preserve a cultural heritage of Turkey and a handful of prominent Turkish actors and writers.

People from all professions, architects, university professors, doctors, actors, writers, engineers, lawyers, university students, managers, economists, workers, art historians and people from virtually every profession have signed our petition to stop the demolition of Emek movie palace and support the transformation of Emek movie palace into a film center which supports both Turkish and World cinema by showing independant and art house cinema films to audiences.

Mehmet Kurtkaya

The below petition is the translation of the Turkish version where you can find the list of Turkish people who have supported the petition.

Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture and Tourism,

High Council of Preservation of Natural and Cultural Entities

We, film and film festival lovers and those who would like to preserve the cultural heritage of Emek movie palace which enjoys a priviledged place in the history of Turkish cinema are against the closing and demolition of Emek movie palace.

The ultimate solution for Emek movie palace would be to preserve and transform it into Emek movie theater and Film center where the best works of Turkish and foreign films shown on World festivals are introduced to the audiences, where Turkish and foreign directors participate in film showings and panels, specific weeks are dedicated to upcoming Turkish directors, filmmaking students and talented short filmmakers, in short a future matching its glorious past to become Emek movie theater and Film Center.

Best regards,

Jean-Michel FRODON, Film Critic, FRANCE
Roberto Ellero, Circuito Cinema Director Venice, ITALY
Dario Bonazelli, Venice Film Festival, ITALY
Joshua Oppenheimer, Filmmaker, UK
Lorenzo Acquaviva, Actor, ITALY
Dennis Overeem,Writer, THE NETHERLANDS
Miryanna van Reeden, Actress, THE NETHERLANDS
Beertje van Beers, Writer, THE NETHERLANDS
Efe Cakarel, CEO, TURKEY
Thomas Stini, Architect, AUSTRIA
Christian Delwiche, BELGIUM
Stelios A. Mavridis, Lawyer, GREECE
Jean-Luc Albaina, Export Manager, FRANCE
Laurence Cornet, Journalist, FRANCE
Patricia Davitt Maughan, Research Librarian, USA
Jenny Lipow, Retired, USA
Vahid Sadeghi, Filmmaker, IRAN
Dimitris Bampas, Film Critic, GREECE
Christopher Zollo, Library Assistant, USA
Benedict Roberts, Finance Director, UK
Marie-Michele Martinet, Writer Journalist, FRANCE
Francesca De Vita, Architect, ITALY
Sheila Ross, Artist, CANADA/USA
Mustafa Atakay, E-commerce/Vice-president, USA
Santiago Pagés, Architect, SWITZERLAND/ARGENTINE
Helen Lee, Filmmaker, CANADA/KOREA
Ozlem Pinar Onur, E-commerce/COO, USA
Michael Lance Barrett, Marketing Consultant, USA
Sheenagh Pietrobruno, Professor, CANADA/TURKEY
Lucie Tunkrova, Professor, CZECH REPUBLIC/TURKEY
John Toohey, Teacher, AUSTRALIA
Marie-Louise Xavier, Teacher, AUSTRALIA
Dimitri Vouliouris, Professor, CANADA
Tina Trinks, Student, GERMANY
John Rink, University Professor, UK
Stephen O'Hanlon, Lawyer, UK
André Girard, Journalist-photographer, SWITZERLAND
Marianne Kienholz, Building designer, SWITZERLAND
Rui Mota, Architecture Student, PORTUGAL
Svetlana Petko, Hotel Administrator, RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Carla Arton, Media Archivist, USA
Stephen Parr, San Francisco Media Archive Director, USA
Dimitris Kerkinos, Film Programmer (Thessaloniki IFF), GREECE
Stratos Kersanidis, Film critic - journalist, GREECE
Franca Farina, Film archivist, ITALY
Juan Carlos Otano, Writer, SPAIN
Martin Mariott, Writer, USA
Peter Delin, Media Librarian, GERMANY
Shannon Bridget Murphy
Damien Aubanton, Video filmmaker, FRANCE
Dimitris Haritos, Film Critic, GREECE
Raouf Boukhris, ImportExport Clerk, FRANCE/TUNISIA
Martin Koerber, Film Curator Deutsche Kinemathek, GERMANY
Andrea Viale, Researcher, ITALY
Gönül Dönmez-Colin, Film curator and author, FRANCE/CANADA
Ronald Grant, Director of London The Cinema Museum, UK
Kalliopi Poutouroglou, Film Critic, GREECE
Stergios Niziris, Director, GREECE
Jacob Hellström, Cinema Worker, SWEDEN
Mamoglou Chryssoula, Photographer, GREECE
Christopher White, Drama Teacher and Writer, UK
Zeynep Moroglu, Ekonomist/Baker, TURKEY
Domna Iordanidou, Teacher-Archivist, GREECE
Gunnar Köhne, Journalist, GERMANY
Ursula Jost, Economist, UK
Inka Gürtler, Film curator Kinemathek Karlsruhe, GERMANY
Alfred Meyer, Director Kinemathek Karlsruhe, GERMANY
Stephan Baumann, Architectural Photographer, GERMANY
Jessica Maxwell,M.A. Student in Intl. Performance Research,USA
Claire Young, Teacher, UK
Ruth Pojman, Deputy, AUSTRIA
Arlene K. Witt, Independent Film Researcher, USA
Ranjit Sandhu, Union Employee, USA
Richard Modiano, editor Poetix, USA
Kymberly Tuttle, Actress, USA
Dirk Förstner, Preservation&Restoration M.A.Student,GERMANY
Maria Anna Bierwirth, Conservator for heritage GERMANY
Stefanie Pfeifer, Photograph conservator, GERMANY
Anna Jüster, Restaurator, GERMANY
Marion A. Müller, Film conservator & publisher, GERMANY
Alexandra Jeberien, Lecturer preventive conservation, GERMANY
Lara Kreuzburg, Conservator of Photographs, GERMANY
Jessica Jantc, Student/Fotorestaurator(BA), GERMANY
Molly Creel, Media Archivist, USA
Andrea Krämer, Student, GERMANY
Manuel Leh, Film/Video Laboratory Technician, GERMANY
Luc CHAPUT, Film critic (Fipresci member) CANADA
Adrienne Cardwell, Artist/Archivist, USA
Astrid Wolfig, Artist Assistant, AUSTRIA
Christina Reichsthaler, Video artist/Graphic designer, AUSTRIA
Maxi Zimmermann, Conservator of Film&Photographs, GERMANY
Holly Loose, Singer, Author, GERMANY/TURKEY
Kyriakos Tritos, Data analyst executive, GREECE
Francesco De Biasio, Researcher, ITALY
Paolo Cusenza, Photographer, ITALY
M. Bruna Zolin, Professor, ITALY
Irene Garbato, Architect, ITALY
Lorenzo Colovini, Engineer and cinéphile, ITALY
Elena Piasentin, Cinema Worker, ITALY
Irene De Piccoli, Student, ITALY
Simone Salari, Student, ITALY
N. Fagian, Manager, ITALY
Caterina Vettore, Student, ITALY
Noemi Bertazzo, Architect, ITALY
Ivo Makuc, translator, SLOVENIA
Roberto Pallottini, Urban planner, ITALY
Chiara Caradonna Westermann, Student, GERMANY
Arianna Cola, Architect, ITALY
Alessandra Pajaro, ITALY
Roberto Zemignan, Teacher-Film Critic, ITALY
Paolo Pistellato, civil servant, ITALY
Kate Pourshariati, Film Archivist Penn Museum, USA
Simona Benatti, Purchaser, ITALY
Linda Torresin, Student, ITALY
Salvatore Russo, Public health doctor, ITALY
Maristella J Kelsey, Urban Planner, USA
Gregorio Garlanda, Retired, ITALY
Antonio Liguori, Judge, ITALY
Luisa Zobele, Translator, ITALY
Leonardo Isacchi, Student, ITALY
Flora Manzonetto, Retired and cinéphile, ITALY
Francesca Emili, Psychologist, ITALY
Anila Shehaj, Student, ALBANIA
Giulia Grotto, Student, ITALY
Frederick Jenkins, Student, GERMANY
Elena Grimaldo, Psychologist, ITALY
Ray Edmondson, Archivist, AUSTRALIA
Enrico Fontanari, Urban Planner, ITALY
Sebastian Tennant, Web application programmer, UK
Stefano Polizzi, Professor, ITALY
Jeanne Swadosh, Archivist, USA
Nina Fiocco, Student, ITALY
Serena Granziera, Medical Doctor, ITALY
Catherine Pinguet, Writer, FRANCE
Alisa Lebow, Filmmaker and Film Scholar, UK
Tina Bastajian, Media Artist/Researcher, NETHERLANDS
Josetxo Cerdán, Art director of PdV Int. Doc. Film Festival, SPAIN
Nevenka Koprivsek, Director of Mladi levi festival, SLOVENIA
Gali Gold, Doctor, UK
Michel Bourse, University Professor, FRANCE/TURKEY
Didier Laroche, Architect, TURKEY
Jerry Keating, Retired Manager, USA
Helene Dubreucq, Concierge, TURKEY
Volker Ziegler, Architect, Professor, FRANCE
Mariarosy Calleri, Film writer and director, ITALY
Greg Grimaldi, Teacher, UK/TURKEY
Eda Ulus, PhD Student and Teacher, UK
Refik Culpan, Prof. Dr. Management, USA
Anna Ludwig, Architect, UK
Alison Snyder, Architect/Professor, USA
Francesco Pasta, Student, ITALY
Ali Türünz, PhD student/ Czech Republic
Antti Selkokari, Film critic and journalist, FINLAND
Ugo Nocera, Architect, FRANCE
Danny Post, journalist, HOLLAND
Margriet Brouwer, Marketing Adviser, THE NETHERLANDS
Evelien Tomaszewski, Fashion Editor, THE NETHERLANDS
Ian van der putten, TV host, THE NETHERLANDS
Mariken Heijwegen,Teacher, THE NETHERLANDS
Marlon Zwier, Graphic designer, Netherlands
Inge Steketee, marketer for a Dutch magazine,THE NETHERLANDS
Diva Mayday, Performer, THE NETHERLANDS
Marijn Hoogendam, Magazine editor, THE NETHERLANDS
José Luis MARTINEZ, lawyer and traveler, Mexico
Anne Broekman, Freelance journalist THE NETHERLANDS
Yvonne van Nielen,Designer, THE NETHERLANDS
Claudia Straatmans, Editor in Chief,THE NETHERLANDS
Derek Tigges, Entrepreneur, THE NETHERLANDS
Linda Korsten, Travelwriter, THE NETHERLANDS
Jill Waas, Filmjournalist, THE NETHERLANDS
Sioe-Sin Khoe, Graphic Designer, THE NETHERLANDS
Marjo de Bruin, Photo editor, THE NETHERLANDS
Moira Valeri, Architect, ITALY
Igor Guinau, Copywriter, THE NETHERLANDS
Reinder van Wier, Bartender, THE NETHERLANDS
Amin Farzanefar, Filmjournalist, GERMANY
Ashley Cleek, Journalist, USA

The petition has ended!