Filmmakers, including Oscar winner, withdraw from Israel’s Jerusalem Film Festival

A group of filmmakers, including Oscar winner Jane Campion and Basque filmmaker Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, have requested their films be withdrawn from Israel’s Jerusalem Film Festival.

According to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), at least four other international film directors from the Basque region in Spain, UK and US have also boycotted the festival, which is partnered with the Israeli Ministry of Culture.

Award-winning screenwriter, producer and director, James Schamus, praised the show of solidarity. “Last year, Emma Watson spoke for a growing chorus of international cultural workers in support of Palestinian rights when she attested that ‘solidarity is a verb.’

“This summer, as the world watches the Israeli government ramp up its assaults on and dispossession of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents, filmmakers are bravely taking that phrase to heart.”

This year marked the 40th edition of the festival which launched last Thursday, with audience members shouting pro-democracy chants at the opening ceremony, headed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, reported Screen Daily.

PACBI added: “At a time when Palestinians are suffering immeasurably under the most fanatical, openly racist Israeli government ever, this solidarity action will be deeply appreciated by Palestinians everywhere.”

“These film directors are taking action where governments, New Zealand included, have failed morally and politically, again and again and again to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people.”

“This is similar to the fight against apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s when it was civil society organisations around the world – including New Zealand – which led the anti-apartheid struggle outside South Africa while Western governments either colluded with the regime or looked the other way.”

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