German cinema chain drops 'Valley of the Wolves'
24 February 2006, HAMBURG - One of the main German cinema chains, which has been screening an anti-American adventure film made in Turkey, has scratched it from its programme after several days of controversy.
24 February 2006
HAMBURG - One of the main German cinema chains, which has been screening an anti-American adventure film made in Turkey, has scratched it from its programme after several days of controversy.
The Cinemaxx company denied that it had ceased screening Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of the Wolves) because of the criticism, insisting that the decision was commercial. "There is no reason to say it has been prematurely taken off the programme," a spokesman said.
There have been calls in Germany from politicians for the thriller to be prohibited for teenagers, or to be banned outright, because it depicts a murderous U.S. officer as a devout Christian and a Jewish doctor as an organ snatcher in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Based on one of Turkey's most popular TV series, the film has been a huge success in Turkey since its February 2 premiere.
In Germany, Turkish teenagers emerging from cinemas after screenings have told waiting newspaper reporters that they are convinced the fictional story is true.
In the film, US troops in Iraq are shown as dishonest and cowardly, killing wedding guests. At the film's climax, the hero, a Turkish secret agent in Iraq, stabs the American villain to death.
German cinemas have shown a version with a Turkish soundtrack and German subtitles, with the audiences being mainly ethnic Turks.
Arne Schmidt, the spokesman for Cinemaxx, said the chain's contract with the distributor had run its course on Wednesday and had not been renewed. The film had had a "good reception" in eight Cinemaxx theatres in Germany during a two-week run.
The company preferred not to provoke further tension, he added, while denying that political considerations affected the decision.
Another German chain, UCI Group, was continuing Thursday to show the film in three of its 19 German theatres and said it had no plans to drop it yet. "People ought to see it and make up their own minds about it," said Georg Welles, a UCI spokesman.
Among those who have called for the film to be banned is the conservative premier of Bavaria state, Edmund Stoiber. The state of North Rhine Westphalia has asked its film censorship board to raise the minimum age for Kurtlar Vadisi audiences from 16 to 18.
A film critic for the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt said the film was so well crafted that it was profoundly satisfying to see the evil American killed, even if one regarded the characterization as false.
The distributor of the film, Maxximum, said the controversy, which began at the end of last week, had boosted the audience size. Its head, Anil Sahin, said in Hamburg that interest had grown sharply and he had shipped 110 copies to cinemas in other European countries.
Currently 65 copies were being screened inside Germany and he was waiting for more copies. Sahin said he expected to have 68 circulating in Germany and 125 in the other European nations by March 2. Currently 20 cinema owners were on a waiting list for the film.
Earlier Maxximum said it was considering commissioning a version dubbed into German for next month.
The call to ban the film has set off passionate debate in Germany, where many intellectuals had earlier defended anti-Muslim cartoons in the name of freedom of speech and similarly rejected Stoiber's call for a ban on the film.
Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community Council in Germany, said this week that a ban would only encourage young Turks to identify with the film. "Democracies have to put up with the films they don't like," he said.
Subject: German news