The world situation has had deleterious effects on a couple of international film festivals this week. In Istanbul:
Fear of flying close to a war zone has caused some invited celebrities to pull out of commitments to attend the 22nd Istanbul International Film Festival, which opens Friday, organizers said.
John Malkovich, director of “The Dancer Upstairs,” is still scheduled to attend, as is filmmaker-actor Paul Morrissey, with “Andy Warhol Presents: Paul Morrissey’s Trilogy.”
Turkey, which borders northern Iraq, was the focus last month of White House pressure to allow U.S. troops to use it as a land corridor to open a second front in the war against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Although Turkey’s Parliament voted to deny U.S. troops access, the proximity of Turkish airspace to a war zone where frequent “friendly fire” incidents have been reported has scared away some invited guests.
“The war in Iraq (has had) an effect on guests. We received replies from some celebrities who preferred not to fly to the region,” said festival spokesman Ustungel Inanc. “The real problem (is) about flying, not Turkey being a neighbor or the situation in Istanbul, as life here is at its normal pace.”
And in Italy:
Guests from the Far East have had their invitations to an Italian film festival cancelled because of the deadly Sars virus.
The Far East Film Festival is a showcase for Asian films, but plans for this year’s event have been thrown into turmoil by the disease.
Authorities in the north-eastern Italian region have asked the Far East Film Festival to withdraw invitations to about 22 delegates from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan including actors, producers and directors.
Centro Espressioni Cinematografiche (CEC), which organises the festival, says it has no choice but to comply with the regulations.
But it has sent its apologies to the guests saying the situation was beyond its control.
One of the main problems has been the perceived threat of local people in the small town of Udine, where the festival is held, about the Sars virus.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has killed more than 90 people and infected 2,700 worldwide.
CEC said there had been widespread panic in the town over fears that people from the Far East would bring the virus to Italian soil.
Although there are no travel restrictions on people from the Far East, the World Health Organisation has warned about large gatherings of people from Eastern Asian areas.