Most talked about at the Istanbul Film Festival (April 13-28) was the one film that didn't show up - at least not in its official format, having been banned by the Ministry of Culture. Two other films, which both came away with awards, narrowly escaped similar bans.

Hejar a melodrama about the relationship between a retired judge and a little orphan Kurdish girl whose family was shot dead by the police, had already been released on Turkish screens for several months, with admissions exceeding 100,000. Hejar had also received awards at the earlier Ankara and Antalyia festivals, as well as having been Turkey's submission for the recent Academy Awards. And yet, it had to be removed from the national section of the Istanbul Festival when the High Commission in charge of censorship, withdrew its permission for the film to be screened.

A letter from the police department to the Commission had stated that the film portrayed the police in a negative light. However, two other films, Nine and Innowhereland (pictured, left and right, respectively) which were also accused of depicting the police unfavourably, managed to avoid a ban at the last minute - perhaps as a result of the immediate outcry. The official ban notwithstanding, all the guests, without apparent exception, resorted to readily available VHS cassettes to see the film.

Innowhereland ended up with the Audience Award, while Nine was selected as the best Turkish film of the year. In addition, Innowhereland's Zuhal Olcay, and Nine's Serra Yilmaz shared the Best Actress award.


The International Jury of the 21st International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by Jerry Schatzberg (USA) and composed of Estela Bravo (USA), Hayashi Kanako (Japan), Marco Muller (Italy), Iyl Ozgentürk (Turkey), Dan Wolman (Israel) and Dervi Zaim (Turkey) has decided to give:

The Golden Tulip Award: Magnoia by Ineke Smits (The Netherlands)

The Special Jury Prize Prismo Do Amerika (Letter To America) by Iglika Triffonova (Bulgaria)

The National Jury of the 21st International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by Erdel Kyral and composed of Mehmet Aslantuo, Daniele Cauchard, Naci Guchan and Yelda Reynaud has decided to give:

The Best Turkish Film Of The Year Award: to 9 directed by Umit Unal

The Best Director Of The Year Award: to Zeky Demyrkubuz for Yazgy (Fate) and Ytiraf (Confession)

The Best Actress Award: was shared between Zuhal Olcay for her performance in Innowhereland and Serra Yilmaz for her performance in 9

The Best Actor Award: was conferred to Taner Byrsel for Ytiraf (Confession)

The Special Jury went to: Maruf by Serdar Akar

The FIPRESCI Jury of the 21st International Istanbul Film Festival presided over by Gyorgy Baron (Hungary) and composed of Kutlukhan Kutlu (Turkey), Anton Giulio Mancino (Italy), Nigel Floyd (United Kingdom) and Thilo Wydra (Germany), gave:

The FIPRESCI Award in the International Competition: to Yazgy (Fate) directed by Zeki Demirkubuz (Turkey),

The FIPRESCI Award in the National Competition, in memory of Onat Kutlar, went to Ytiraf (Confession ) directed by Zeki Demirkubuz

The People's Choice Awards, sponsored by the Radikal Newspaper and determined by the votes of the Festival audience, were given to:
Das Experiment by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Germany) in the International Competition, and Innowhereland by Tayfun Pirselimolu in the National Competition.