Can Candan is a documentary filmmaker and an academic who uses the power of cinema to make human rights violations visible. He was prosecuted as one of the signatories of the Academics for Peace declaration. He was tried, and he recorded the process with his camera. Following the removal of Melih Bulu from his post as the appointed rector of Boğaziçi University by the President, the first act of Naci İnci, the acting rector, was to fire Candan. Candan was also barred from entering the university campus.
Can Candan has been in the academy for 26 years now. He completed his undergraduate studies at Hampshire College in the USA, where he became interested in photography and cinema.
His first movie was called "Wen", a silent short portrait of a young woman's peculiar relationship with horses. In the same year, 1989, he made an activist documentary film called "Boycott Coke". He received his first award with the documentary "Exodus " (1991), which documents the migration from Bulgaria to Turkey. After graduation, he continued his education at Temple University, also in the USA.
His doctoral thesis film was the trilingual documentary titled "DuvarlarMauernWalls", which is about the increasing racism against Turkish people in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Candan returned to Turkey and started teaching at Bilgi University. He later became the department chair and the director of the MA program at Bilgi University’s Film and TV department. He transferred to Sabancı University in 2005 and to Boğaziçi University in 2007 as a full-time lecturer. He gave lectures on documentary film theory, history, experimental cinema, documentary cinema in Turkey, film production, film studies research projects in the Film Studies Certificate Program at the Department of Western Languages and Literatures at Boğaziçi University for 14 years.
He took part in the establishment of "docIstanbul - Documentary Research Center" in 2007. Between the years 2011 and 2012, he wrote and presented the Documentary Film Hour and Documentary Film Talks programs on IMC Television.
He finished his third feature-length documentary film "My Child" in 2013. It documents how a group of mothers and fathers whose children are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender learned to accept their children as they are, and how they became rights defenders. The film premiered at Boğaziçi and received a lot of attention. It received the "Special Jury Award'' at the 3rd Filmamed Documentary Film Festival and the "Best Film Award" at the 15th Thessaloniki International LGBTQ Film Festival.
He was involved in sexual harassment prevention initiatives at Boğaziçi University. He took part in the establishment of Boğaziçi University Commission on Prevention of Sexual Harassment (CİTÖK) in 2012 with the support of the Women's Studies Club (BÜKAK) and the then-elected rector Gülay Barbarosoğlu. During the term of the rector, Mehmed Özkan, he officially assumed the duty of academic advisor of Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club (BÜLGBTI+).
He was a signatory of the Academics for Peace declaration, which was shared with the public on January 11, 2016. A lawsuit was filed against him on the charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" based on Article 7/2 of the TMK No. 3713. He appeared before the judge at the 35th High Criminal Court at the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan on September 18, 2018. In his defense, he stated: "As a citizen whose rights and freedoms are protected by the constitution of the Republic of Turkey and international agreements signed by the Republic of Turkey, it is impossible for me to accept these accusations."
The process that resulted in Can Candan's dismissal from Boğaziçi University began when President Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu to the post of rector. Boğaziçi University academics, students and graduates reacted to the appointment made by Erdoğan with the decree published in the Official Gazette No. 31352 on January 2, 2021, paving the way for Boğaziçi Resistance and the Boğaziçi Academics Watch. Can Candan was participating in the watch, documenting it, and making statements to the press about the process. Melih Bulu was removed from his post on July 15, 2021, and Naci İnci was appointed as a proxy. On July 16, İnci terminated Candan’s employment at the university. On the same day, Candan shared the communique he received from İnci on his social media account. His students and academics immediately made statements in solidarity with Can Candan. Nearly 300 documentary filmmakers and academics from 19 different countries, including but not limited to the USA, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden, launched an international campaign.
On August 13, 2021, Candan filed a reemployment lawsuit at the Istanbul 2nd Administrative Court and requested that the execution of the unlawful dismissal be stopped. When the court rejected the request for a stay of execution, he applied to the District Administrative Court, which is a higher court, on October 11, 2021. On the same day, when he went to the Aşiyan Gate of the campus to give lessons to his students in the garden, he was not allowed in with the order of the rector. Candan recorded this process with her camera. The District Administrative Court, which evaluated the objection, registered that the lower court gave the decision with missing documents on November 16, 2021 and lifted the refusal decision.
The Istanbul 2nd Administrative Court finally requested the missing documents from the rectorate of Boğaziçi University on December 7, 2021. The Boğaziçi University Rectorate, forced to initiate an investigation, invited Candan to "investigate" for the first time on 29 December. The reason for the investigation was that he quoted the words of TİP Chairman Erkan Baş on his social media account on June 1, 2021. On January 20, 2022, the Istanbul 2nd Administrative Court once again rejected the request for a stay of execution. Candan once again appealed to the Regional Administrative Court on February 2, 2022. Evaluating Candan's application, the 7th Administrative Court of Appeals decided to stay the execution on February 16, 2022 by majority of votes. Candan returned to the university on March 25, 2022, on the 305th day of the Bosphorus Watch. He was greeted with drums and horns by his colleagues and students.
In the lawsuit filed regarding the termination of duty dated July 16, 2021, the court annulled the transaction with its decision dated May 31, 2022, finding it unlawful. It decided that Can Candan's personal and monetary rights, which he was deprived of, be paid with interest.
However, the rector Naci İnci cut Candan's relationship with the school despite the court decision. Can Candan gave information on social media on August 9, 2022 and said, "From the letter dated 9.08.2022, which was communicated to me today: “…it has been decided that your term of office will not be extended as of 16.07.2022 with the letter that you will become the rector's office”.
Can Candan brought his dismissal for the second time and the disciplinary penalty cited as the reason for dismissal to the judiciary with two new lawsuits. Candan requests the cancellation of the sentence imposed as a result of the disciplinary investigation and the suspension and cancellation of the dismissal process.
Can Candan went to the campus with Ayfer Bartu, Faculty Member of the Department of Sociology, to attend the 397th watch on August 16, 2022, but was not let in by the security. However, the 13th article of the university's Security Officers Directive states, "Those who come accompanied by Boğaziçi University academic or administrative staff will be admitted." Candan kept a report on the incident.
On February 20, 2023, in the lawsuit filed for the cancellation of the disciplinary penalty given to Can Candan by the Boğaziçi University administration for his Twitter post in April 2022, the court decided to cancel the disciplinary penalty.
Can Candan announced that he was reinstated to his post at Boğaziçi University for the second time on May 23, 2023, with a court decision. The court found Candan's dismissal effective from 16 July 2022 to be unlawful. However, Can Candan's participation in the vigil on May 26 was prevented by the university administration.
Boğaziçi University Rectorate dismissed Can Candan for the third time on 17 July 2023. Candan filed a lawsuit for the fourth time before the Istanbul Administrative Courts for the annulment of the decision not to extend the term of office.