Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We will stand firm unless ...

... somebody important tells us not to. This is not about our miserable set of politicos and wannabe politicos but about the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which had accepted and listed around £300 from the Israeli Embassy to enable a young film graduate from Tel Aviv to travel to the screening of his short film.

Naturally the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign waded in, threatened to picket screenings (which they probably will, anyway, being great believers in the freedom of the arts) and started a huge e-mail campaign.

The EIFF held out:
EIFF managing director Ginnie Atkinson said not accepting support from one particular country "would set a dangerous precedent by politicising a cultural and artistic mission".
This would indicate that they routinely do accept contributions from various countries.

Then Ken Loach, the well-known maker of political propaganda films and a man who has never seen a tyranny he could not support, waded in and threatened to boycott the festival if the £300 were not returned. Guess what? The EIFF folded immediately.
The following day the EIFF – which has since been in talks with Mr Loach – did a U-turn. It said: "The EIFF are firm believers in free cultural exchange and do not wish to restrict film-makers' abilities to communicate artistically with international audiences on the basis that they come from a troubled regime."

Although the festival is considered wholly cultural and apolitical, we consider the opinions of the film industry as a whole and, as such, accept that one film-maker's recent statement speaks on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli embassy."

EIFF spokeswoman Emma McCorkell said yesterday she hoped Shalom Ezer would still attend the festival. Mr Loach did not respond to requests to contact The Scotsman yesterday. However, Ms McCorkell said he was "pleased".
I bet he is pleased. He has managed to bully an organization into accepting his own rather cock-eyed view of the world. Is Ms McCorkell pleased, though?

She or her minions cannot even produce a decent press release. Exactly who has appointed Ken Loach to be spokesman for "the film industry as a whole"? Who says Israel has a "troubled regime"? The country has free and fair elections, a free parliament and a free media in all of which the Arab population takes full part. Can the various Palestinian entities say the same? or, indeed, most Arab states?

As for Shalom Ezer, I wish him well but I hope he will manage to make his views known in some form or another.

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