'Toronto Film Festival turned into Israeli propaganda machine'

More than 50 artists, academics, and filmmakers protested Toronto International Film Festival over many Israeli films on Tel Aviv.

'Toronto Film Festival turned into Israeli propaganda machine'
More than 50 artists, academics, and filmmakers protested Toronto International Film Festival over many Israeli films on Tel Aviv, saying it was turned into "the Israeli propaganda machine".

At issue is the festival's new City to City program, which will present 10 films on Tel Aviv.

The 34th edition of the festival will begin next Thursday.

Canadian filmmaker John Greyson last week pulled his documentary "Covered" from the festival in protest, and a statement published online on Thursday and signed by more than 50 artists, academics, and filmmakers likened the program to a celebration of apartheid-era South Africa.

"This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries," say the signatories, which include actors Jane Fonda and Danny Glover, author Naomi Klein, and filmmaker Ken Loach.

They accuse the festival of taking direction from the "Brand Israel" campaign, which seeks to improve the country's image and has focused on Toronto as a test city.

"We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City, nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF," they say.

"However... we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign."

Earlier this year, the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees passed a resolution to boycott Israeli academics, while "Israeli Apartheid Week", founded in Toronto in 2005, is held annually on several Canadian university campuses.

Officials at the Israeli consulate in Toronto did not immediately return requests for comment.


Agencies
Last Mod: 04 Eylül 2009, 16:27
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