Sunday, April 19, 2015

Switzerland: Filmmakers urge Locarno festival to drop Israel focus

Via Screen Daily:
More than 200 filmmakers and industry professionals are urging the Locarno Film Festival to drop a planned focus on Israel this summer, being organised in partnership with the state-backed Israeli Film Fund

Ken Loach, a Locarno regular and recipient of its Leopard of Honour in 2003, is among the petitioners alongside screenwriter Walter Bernstein and composer Richard Horowitz.

Other protestors include Israeli filmmakers Simone Bitton, Rachel Leah Jones and Eyal Sivan, and Palestinian directors Annemarie Jacir, Elia Suleiman and Hany Abu-Assad.

But a statement from Locarno said the festival “has always been a place of freedom of expression” and that it would not drop the focus, which would “represent an important opportunity for debate and dialogue, within the context of cultural enrichment”.

In a petition, the protesting filmmakers and film professionals expressed “deep concern” that Locarno was planning to partner with the fund, and by dint of this, its key state backer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We are particularly disturbed about the timing of this Locarno Film Festival decision to promote Israel, coming on the heels of Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza in the summer of 2014, where more than two thousand Palestinians were killed, including more than five hundred children,” read the petition. “Locarno’s decision also follows the election of the most racist, far-right government in Israel’s history.”

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