‘The Letter Room’ vs. ‘Passed by Censor’ Plagiarism Debate


Two award-winning filmmakers and one an identical lead personality: a jail guard tasked with scanning inmates’ mail for objectionable subject material.

Debate is underway in Turkey’s movie group over similarities between the award-winning 2019 Turkish function “Handed through Censor” and Elvira Lind’s “The Letter Room,” which is nominated for the Perfect Reside Motion Brief Oscar. Each motion pictures revolve round an identical lead characters: jail guards tasked with scanning inmates’ mail for objectionable content material. Now the Turkish filmmaking workforce has lawyered up and desires to barter with their American opposite numbers.

Financed through Matter, the streaming provider owned through First Glance Media, “The Letter Room” stars Lind’s husband Oscar Isaac and Alia Shawkat. After debuting at Hollyshorts in November 2020, it gave the impression at the Oscars shortlist in February; a number of extra distribution offers adopted.

On April 11, a column through movie critic Vecdi Sayar of the Turkish newspaper BirGün cited the similarities between “Handed through Censor” and “The Letter Room” as the newest instance of a Turkish movie that hasn’t gotten its due for influencing different productions. Prominent Turkish paper Cumhuriyet additionally took up the rate, as did Posta critic Kerem Akça, who derided “The Letter Room” as an affordable reproduction of “Handed through Censor.”

“Handed through Censor” director Serhat Karaaslan and his manufacturing companions presented this observation to IndieWire: ”We came upon about this case throughout the social media posts and picture critics. We’re taking into account our felony choices with our co-producers in Turkey/90 Movie Manufacturing, Germany/Departures Movie and France/Silex Movies as we have been additionally within the technique of discussing an English model of ‘Handed through Censor’. We didn’t have any monetary bargaining makes an attempt. Right here’s what our attorney informed them: Past an affordable doubt, this isn’t simply a subject matter concerning the breach of ethical rights; it’s also harmful monetary rights of the film.”

“Handed through Censor” stars Berkay Ates as Zakir, a jail censor and aspiring creator tasked with studying inmates’ letters and blacking out objectionable passages. The delicate Zakir unearths himself impressed and straying additional and farther from his process description when he turns into obsessive about an inmate’s spouse by way of her letters to her husband.

Karaaslan evolved the movie in different labs, together with Cannes Cinéfondation in 2015. Throughout a 2016 Movie Impartial lab in the USA, he shot a scene from the movie in English. It premiered in 2019 at Karlovy Range, the place Karaaslan received an award from Federation of Movie Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean.

When IndieWire reached out to Lind for remark, a Matter consultant presented this observation: “‘The Letter Room’ is an independently conceived unique paintings. No person concerned with ‘The Letter Room’ had noticed this movie, nor have been they acutely aware of it, till Turkish attorneys requested for monetary repayment.”

“The Letter Room” is the primary narrative brief for Lind, who’s perfect recognized for guiding the documentary “Bobbi Jene.” It received 3 jury awards on the 2017 Tribeca Movie Pageant, together with perfect documentary function, and was once bought through Oscilloscope.

In “The Letter Room,” all letters going out and in of a death-row facility undergo Richard (Isaac). Even though the warden makes transparent he’s no longer supposed to learn the letters in complete, Richard unearths himself immersed within the lyrical love letters written to 1 inmate from his female friend at the outdoor, Rosita (Shawkat).

Karaaslan mentioned he were given the theory for “Handed through Censor” after receiving censored correspondence from a relative who was once a political prisoner in Turkey.

“Afterwards, I felt as though I have been being monitored through any person each time I wrote letters and that perhaps this led me to follow self-censorship, a idea that disturbed me,” he wrote in a Cannes Cinéfondation statement of intent. “On account of this, I evolved a powerful interest concerning the individuals who learn all the ones letters.”

Lind shot “The Letter Room” in 2019. In a December 2020 profile revealed on Free the Work, a web-based database of underrepresented creators that was once introduced through fellow filmmaker Alma Har’el, Lind mentioned she was once impressed through an episode of an unnamed podcast.

“It informed the tale of various males who have been all unknowingly writing love letters to the similar girl. She began to invite for cash and assist with hire, however the letters she wrote have been so glorious and these kind of males have been very in love along with her. Those very lonely males felt like magic had entered their lives. All of them sooner or later came upon that the lady was once if truth be told a person writing to other folks seeking to get their cash. They have been all heartbroken, however probably the most males mentioned that the worst phase was once shedding those letters and that the fable was once long past,” Lind mentioned.

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