Palestinian artists call on Arab filmmakers to boycott Toronto festival

Many artists, filmmakers have protested Toronto International Film Festival over Tel-Avive feature that completely ignored Palestinian culture and history in the occupied land.

Palestinian artists call on Arab filmmakers to boycott Toronto festival


World Bulletin / News Desk

Palestinian artists and intellectuals called on Arab directors to withdraw their films from Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), protesting the event over Tel-Avive feature that completely ignored Palestinian culture and history in the occupied land.

"A boycott is stronger than just a protest," Maan news agency quoted president of the Palestinian cinema group, Yahya Barakat as saying outside the Canadian building in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

He called on Palestinians and Arab film makers to pull their work from the festival.

"We do not want the [TIFF] administration to take the presence of Arab and Palestinian cinema artists at the festival …as an excuse for neutralism" Barakat was quoted as saying, referring to an open letter from Co-Director of TIFF Cameron Bailey.

She said in the letter tha the inclusion of films from Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon in the festival - outside of the TIFF's City to City highlight of Tel Aviv, which includes no Palestinian films - as "evidenc"e of the festival's "un-biased" position of the issue.

Members of the Palestinian Cinema Group and dozens of other writers and intellectuals signed a petition that stated the importance of Arab solidarity around the issue, so film goers in Toronto would understand the biased nature of the City to City highlight on Tel Aviv.

"Israeli Propaganda machine"

Last week veteran Toronto filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his short documentary "Covered" from the fest to protest the showcase of Israeli filmmaking.

On Thursday a letter of support was published online, endorsed by more than 50 prominent names in the international culture and media communities including Alice Walker, John Berger, Ken Loach, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, David Byrne, Slavoj Zizek and several Israeli and Palestinian artists.

"We protest that Toronto, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine," the letter states, referring to "Brand Israel," a media and advertising campaign Israel's Foreign Ministry is launching in Toronto this month.

They reminded the 2008 "Brand Israel" campaign which chose Toronto as its trial city. The program was described as a "million dollar media and advertising campaign aimed at changing Canadian perceptions of Israel."

"We protest that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine," the letter said.

This aims to focus attention away from Israel's conflict with the Palestinian territories and toward the country's achievements in science and culture.

Last week fest co-director Cameron Bailey responded to Greyson in an open letter on the fest's website, stating City to City "was conceived and curated entirely independently. There was no pressure from any outside source."

Dangerous

Kathy Wazana, a documantary filmmaker who signed the open letter criticised TIFF, said that "the authors of the letter have been called hypocrites, censors and, worse, anti-Semites. A ludicrous charge: five of the eight are Jewish and one is an Israeli."

"TIFF singled out Israel for a celebratory spotlight, and its timing could not have been worse, in view of the ongoing settlement and colonization of Palestinian lands, of the continued construction of the wall that is enclosing the Palestinian population of the West Bank in a series of claustrophobic, prison-like enclaves, of the daily acts of humiliation and violations of the rights and the dignity of old and young alike, and, most recently, of the lethal assault on Gaza that left 1,400 Palestinian women, men and children dead." 

"In Canada today, to criticize Israel is a very dangerous thing," she said in his article in The Toronto Star.




 

Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2009, 13:34
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