Turkey’s historic Emek theatre facing final curtain
By Constanze Letsch in Istanbul | Published by The Guardian
April 15, 2013
It is Turkey’s oldest and most prestigious cinema, an Istanbul landmark that dates back to the early days of Atatürk’s rule – and a centrepiece until recently of the city’s international film festival.
So plans to demolish the Emek theatre and turn the space into an entertainment and shopping venue have generated widespread disapproval – not least at the recent film festival, at which film directors, critics and residents came together in a passionate protest against the building project.
In 1924, the theatre opened its doors as part of the Cercle d’Orient complex, a listed art deco building designed in 1884 by Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury. Despite massive public protest the building was leased to a private developer who plans to turn it into an entertainment and shopping complex. Demolition work started last week.
After a lengthy legal battle a local court approved the developer’s plans last December. The company announced plans to move the theatre to the fourth floor of the new building, but critics fear the Emek theatre will effectively be destroyed.
Azize Tan, director of the Istanbul film festival, thinks the demolition of the Emek theatre is a tragic mistake. “The theatre is a symbol for Turkish cinema that we need to protect,” she said. She said its closure in 2010 had had a negative impact on the festival. “Every big film festival has its flagship venue. The Emek theatre was ours for 28 years, and there is nothing to replace it with,” she said. (Click here for entire article.)