Tuesday, June 21, 2022



From Stuff (New Zealand):

Palestinian human rights groups have called for a boycott of this year’s Academy Award-qualifying Doc Edge international documentary film festival over concern it’s funded by the Embassy of Israel.

Some have also taken issue with the festival showing films by Israeli directors, but none from Palestinians in the wake of the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

But the festival, which runs in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and online between June 1 and July 10, says it will not change its offering of films.    
The festival told BDS to go to hell, which is the proper response. In previous years, Israel-haters urged the festival to not screen Israeli films, and the festival refused then as well. 

Because the festival made it clear that they would not censor  Israeli films, the boycotters changed their tactics to attack their funding. That didn't work either.

However, the Israel haters went to Plan C so they can declare some sort of victory. From the official Palestinian Wafa news agency:
International filmmakers have called out the Documentary Edge Festival for its “art-washing” of Israeli racism and apartheid against Palestinians.

In a letter signed by a number of filmmakers such as Cole Yeoman, Gabriel Shipton, David Rane, and others, the directors and writers noted that they “don’t endorse the festival’s continued acceptance of funding and official support from the Israeli Embassy.”

“As filmmakers and participants in DocEdge Film Festival, we are deeply concerned by the festival’s continued acceptance of funding and official support from the Israeli Embassy. It is an offensive and unacceptable affiliation which we do not endorse,” the letter said.

“Our concern is not fearing Israeli influence in the festival selection, rather, the credibility and legitimization that Israel gains from DocEdge’s endorsement and platform. Our call isn't to take ‘sides’ or censor films, it is to recognize human rights and to keep our cultural spaces free from the harm and normalization of racism and colonization,” the letter said.

“It is in firm solidarity with the Palestinian people and the global recognition of human rights that we request DocEdge end their affiliation with the apartheid Israeli Embassy and divest from a relationship that endorses and legitimizes the systemic and racist persecution of Palestinians,” the letter concluded.
I found the letter itself, and it is signed by a directors and producers of eight (out of 113) festival films.

Cole Yeoman  -  ‘The Milford Road’ - Director/Producer
Gabriel Shipton  -  ‘Ithaka’ - Producer & brother of Julian Assange
Haidy Kancler  -  ‘Melting Dreams’ - Director/ Writer
Neasa Ní Chainaín  -  ‘Young Plato’ - Director
David Rane  -  ‘Young Plato’ - Producer
Rich Felgate  -  ‘Finite: The Climate of Change’ - Director/ Producer
Julia Maria Diana Jansch  -  ‘Coming Home’ - Director/ Producer
Olha Zhurba  -  ‘Outside’ - Director
Kaia Kahurangi Jamieson  -  ‘Scope’ - Director/ Producer

Notice that none of these filmmakers actually withdrew their films from the festival. Their supposed concern over how terrible Israel is doesn't extend to them doing anything that will affect their careers. They just signed a letter - a letter designed for the BDSers to claim that they garnered some support from some people who are willing to publicly call Israel an apartheid state.

Now everyone wins: BDS can issue press releases making it sound like their movement achieved a victory by saying that they got prestigious directors to support their message, and the directors can claim that they took the moral high ground without actually doing anything. 

The list of festival sponsors is here. Besides the Israeli embassy in New Zealand, the festival is also funded by the embassies of the US, Canada, France, Australia, the Netherlands and the EU. 



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