Ankara -Turkish authorities have banned Danish director Lars Von Trier's controversial movie epic Nymphomaniac from theatres for its extensive nudity and no-holds-barred sex scenes.
The film premiered to cheers at the Berlin film festival last month.
Its first part was planned to be screened in Turkey on 14 March and the second part on 21 March. The movie was expected to be accompanied with a warning against children under age 18 watching it.
But Turkey's cinema board, which includes representatives from the culture, interior and education ministries, banned the movie outright by a majority vote six in favour and two against on Monday.
Turkey's cinema general director Cem Erkul said the board, which also included a psychologist and a sociologist, watched the film carefully to see if it met the country's standards.
"The board decided to ban the commercial circulation of the movie at theatres because of its explicit sexual scenes," Erkul told AFP.
"This film is in the porn category," he said. "It also depicts extreme violence against women".
The official said criticism over the ban in social media and among artists was normal in a democratic country and made it clear that Turkey was not entirely barring the film which he said would be screened at the Istanbul Film Festival in April.
Erkul said it would not be appropriate to display the film at threatres in Turkey, which are mostly at shopping centres, and that Turkey lacked special theatres to screen such films.
Yamac Okur, a dissenting member of the board, said the decision was tantamount to "censorship".
"Barring any cinema movie from commercial screening is unacceptable," he wrote on Twitter on Monday.
"It could have been displayed by age rating. Otherwise, it is censorship".
"Nymphomaniac" tells the story of a woman's sexual awakening from childhood to age 50. It stars Charlotte Gainsbourg alongside Stellan Skarsgard and Shia LaBeouf.
In January, EU member Romania said it had lifted its own ban on the movie and fired the official responsible for barring it following an uproar by artists and the culture minister.
Prominent Turkish artists however denounced the move.
"I strongly condemn the ban on the film 'Nymphomaniac' while there is in fact a policy in place on age limit," well-known Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of Cannes' Best Director Prize in 2008 for his searing family drama "Three Monkeys", wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey's political scene for 11 years, is accused by critics of changing from being a reformer to a conservative, fuelling an old debate over his alleged hidden agenda to Islamise the predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular nation.
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