Following the legitimate outrage over the Toronto International Film Festival presenting Tel Aviv as a model of cultural and ethnic harmony (hello occupation down the road), the key issues are being raised day after day in the media, a positive thing:
Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow and Jerry Seinfeld were among dozens of film professionals who issued a statement this week defending the Toronto Film Festival’s decision to spotlight Tel Aviv.
“We don’t need another blacklist,” read the letter they signed onto, referring to calls by filmmaker John Greyson to boycott the festival due to a series of Israeli films being screened in its City to City program.
The boycott calls gathered steam when a letter backing Greyson was signed by a group of entertainers, including Jane Fonda and Danny Glover.
“We applaud the Toronto International Film Festival for including the Israeli film community in the Festival’s City to City program,” stated the letter signed by some 100 prominent entertainers. “The visiting filmmakers represent a dynamic national cinema, the best of Israel’s open, uncensored artistic expression. Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Those who refuse to see these films for themselves or prevent them from being seen by others are violating a cherished right shared by Canada and all democratic countries.”
According to The Canadian Press, Greyson, Elle Flanders and Palestinian-Israeli director Elia Sulieman held a press conference to refute charges they were blacklisting City to City and its participants.
“Our campaign was meant to begin the dialogue that TIFF missed out on – one that refuses the Israeli government’s attempt to shift attention away from the conflict that it maintains and worsens daily,” said Flanders.