Thanks to Anna P. for finding this:

Serbian director Emir Kusturica withdraws from Turkish film fest

World famous Bosnia-Serbian director Emir Kusturica held a press conference at his hotel Sunday morning announcing his withdrawal from this year’s Golden Orange Film Festival jury, saying protests against his inclusion reflected “barbarism and primitiveness.”

Kusturica, who was the target of protests from various Turkish groups that claimed he supported the Serbian genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, said: “It is known that I am an anti-imperialist. This is the point of my life and work. Such reactions are always meaningless to me. The thing I … fought for was [a] united Yugoslavia. Approaches before and after the war should be evaluated according to this.”

A group gathered Sunday morning in front of the Antalya Metropolitan Municipality’s building to protest Kusturica’s inclusion in the Golden Orange festival, leaving a black wreath in front of the building.

Protestors included Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, Provincial Chairman Adnan Kaya and members of the Turkish Bosnia-Herzegovina Cultural Associations Federation.

Turkish Bosnia-Herzegovina Cultural Associations Federation Chairman Cemal Şenel said they condemned the festival for inviting Kusturica to sit on the jury. He said Kusturica was a close friend and supporter of people who committed crimes against humanity.

“While thousands of Bosnian women were raped during the Bosnian War, he said, ‘You exaggerate the situation,’ and regarding the genocide in which 250,000 people were killed said, ‘We were already Serbs 500 years ago, let’s become Serb and Christian again.’ Many times he also said he was born from a Bosnian mother but felt culturally closer to Serbs – and that he never participated in any ceremony held to commemorate the victims of Serbian massacre in which 10,000 Muslim men were massacred in two days in July 1995. On the other hand, he became close friends with the ultra-nationalist Serb warlord Arkan, as well as former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who died in his cell while being tried for war crimes,” Şenel said.

Bosnians love Turkey and are tied in brotherhood and religion, Kusturica said, adding that political events had paved the way for “accusing a director of supporting genocide.”

[Note: In order for him to do that, wouldn’t a genocide first have to occur?]

“My vision of my country is personal. I am not a member of any political party. My statements are totally caused by my faith. It is sometimes right or sometimes wrong,” he said.

“I don’t even want to defend myself but want to explain some things. I want to thank the Antalya Mayor Mustafa Akaydın and others for the their warm interest in me. But I declare this country’s minister of culture as an enemy. Because he deserves it. Any person who dedicates his life to opening new windows to mankind cannot support a crime. We performed in Bursa a few months ago. The mayor from the same party of the minister of culture hosted us in the best way. We performed a very nice concert. Women wearing headscarves were dancing. It was a big happiness for me,” he said.

Kusturica said he was expected to hold a workshop with students as part of the festival but was unable to do so because he planned to leave Turkey immediately following the press conference.

When the 47th Golden Orange Film Festival opened Saturday at the Glass Pyramid in Antalya, jury guest Emir Kusturica became the target of criticism from a local politician.

When Mayor Akaydın was invited to the stage to address the audience at the opening ceremony, Municipal Councilman Reşat Oktay of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, stood up, turned to the audience and started shouting that Kustarica had made racist remarks about Bosnian Muslims and had no right to be at the festival, Doğan News Agency reported.

Oktay was booed by the audience and escorted from the event by private security and other municipal councilmen. He justified his actions by saying the Bosnian director drew criticism from his controversial remarks about the Serbian conflict.

Akaydın apologized for the incident, saying that Antalya was a city of civilization, tolerance, and peace and has a great appreciation for the arts. “I condemn politicians who try to sabotage this wonderful event by involving politics,” he said.

This was a class act by the Turkish mayor and what I presume to be the mostly Turkish audience members booing the troublemaker. It’s nice that the Turks accept Kusturica as a Serb, though why shouldn’t they? They’re reconquering the Serbs all over again, so relations are good.

I first discovered Emir Kusturica only a year ago, I’m embarrassed to say, and he became an instant hero of mine. It was this intriguing 2005 NY Times article about him that I stumbled upon.