Toronto film festival accused of pushing Israeli

OTTAWA - Some 50 intellectuals and filmmakers, including Briton Ken Loach, have accused the Toronto film festival of "complicity with the Israeli propaganda machine" over its spotlight this year of Tel Aviv.
The Toronto International Film Festival chose this year to present 10 films on the Jewish metropolis by local filmmakers for its "City to City" programme, which each year focuses its lens on a different city.
But the choice led to protests that the film festival was "staging a propaganda campaign" on Israel's behalf, given "the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program," said an open letter to festival organizers.

Toronto film festival accused of pushing Israeli
The program, it said, "ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories" after a "mass exiling of the Palestinian population" in 1948.
"Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city's past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto."
The 50 signatories to the letter include Canadian sociologist Naomi Klein, British filmmaker Ken Loach, American actress Jane Fonda and several Israeli filmmakers.
The controversy started last week when Canadian filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his film from the festival in protest.
Film festival co-director Cameron Bailey reacted Friday by saying the film festival, which runs September 10-19, was showcasing two films by Palestinian directors.
Furthermore, he said he was attracted to Tel Aviv because "films being made there explore and critique the city from many different perspectives."
But "we recognize that Tel Aviv is not a simple choice and the city remains contested ground," he added.

Saturday, September 5th 2009

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