Four more filmmakers have joined a growing number of artists boycotting the Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival (TLVFest), inÂ response to a Palestinian call.
Five artists had alreadyÂ cancelled their participationÂ prior to the start of the festival, which runs between May 31 and June 9. With the latest cancellations, from two French directors and two from the Spanish state, a total of nine artists and filmmakers have boycotted the festival this year.
Despite the cancellations, TLVFest has refused to remove the filmmakersâ€™ films from the festivalâ€™s schedule. In a statement to anÂ Israeli daily, the festival director Yair Hochner said, â€śWhoever canceled, canceled. As far as we are concerned the festival will continue normally.â€ť
French directorsÂ OcĂ©ane Michel and Cyprien VialÂ had two scheduled screenings of their comedy film, â€śEmbrasse-moi!â€ť. OcĂ©ane, who also makes his acting debut in the movie,Â posted on Facebook:
I wrote to the Festival two days ago but my message seems not to have been understood as my movie is still listed on the program.
I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and express my total disagreement with Israel’s policy towards Palestine. For this reason, I refuse to take part in the pinkwashing strategy of the Israeli government. I want my movie withdrawn from the festival.
I apologise to the audience of the festival because civilians are equally victims of their government. I make an absolute distinction between Israeli citizens and their government, but violence against Palestinians, including LGBT people, by the army and the state forces me to withdraw from the program.
Likewise, Spanish directorÂ Dany CamposÂ toldÂ Pinkwatching IsraelÂ – a collective of Palestinian queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) – that he is withdrawing his short, â€śFlaw,â€ť from the Festivalâ€™s â€śB Shortsâ€ť category.
DirectorÂ Fabia CastroÂ announced her supportÂ for the cultural boycott of Israel in addition to withdrawing her short, â€śTresâ€ť:
After learning about the very serious situation of oppression Palestinians live under, a regime of colonialism and apartheid, I refuse to let my art be used to whitewash Israel’s image. â€¦ I reject attempts by Israel to use the rights and struggles of LGBTQ+ people to normalize their imageâ€¦.
â€¦ Today, I add my voice to dozens of artists who, in the last few weeks, have joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for the rights of the Palestinian people.”
The wave of boycotts of TLVFest follows Israelâ€™s latest massacres in Gaza, where Israeli forces killed more thanÂ 117 unarmed Palestinian protesters, including 13 children, and injured more than 13,000, leaving many with life-changing disabilities.Â Amnesty InternationalÂ has condemned Israelâ€™s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy andÂ Human Rights WatchÂ described the killings as â€śunlawful and calculated.â€ť
Haneen Maikey, director of alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, welcomed this yearâ€™s cancellations:
Palestinian queers feel inspired by this wave of international solidarity at a time when world governments continue to fuel Israelâ€™s impunity and war crimes. The scale of cancellations for the second year in a row are yet another sign of how Israelâ€™s pinkwashing strategy is failing.
There is a greater awareness worldwide about how Israel uses LGBTQ rights to justify its violent policies. Moreover, TLVFestâ€™s management has shown its true face by declining to honor the requests from the directors to remove their work from the Festivalâ€™s program, they should do so now.
Hind Awwad, from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), commented:
We have noticed that many of the directors that were approached were not aware that their movies were scheduled to be shown at TLVFest. This is due to contractual arrangements with distributors who place the movies in international festivals without necessarily checking with filmmakers. Distributors should respect the wishes of directors who support the cultural boycott of Israel. The tide is changing for the support of Palestinian rights in the art world. The industry should reflect these changes. Â
TheÂ Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)Â was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israelâ€™s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI atÂ https://bdsmovement.net/pacbiÂ and follow them on TwitterÂ @PACBI
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.