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Festival defends Israeli film showing

EIFF.gifIn what seems to be a pre-emptive announcement, Shane Danielson the Edinburgh Film Festival Artistic Director has defended the decision to show the Israeli documentary 5 Days (Chamisha Yamim) and explained the decision behind the declining of funding from Israel to allow the filmmaker, Yoav Shamir, to travel to the Festival.

In a statement on the EIFF site today, Danielson states that the funding is nothing out of the ordinary and is just the same as any other country funding their filmmakers attending festivals. Despite this, they have declined the funding due to recent events in Israel and have offered Shamir direct funding from the EIFF budget to attend the film festival.

However Danielson is clear, regardless of attendance the film will be shown, and explains why...

We don't believe that is in the public interest to ban these films, just because they happen to be from a state with whose official policies one might not agree. Indeed, we do not believe in banning work from any country - particularly work which takes a critical or interrogatory stance on its government. This path leads only to censorship...

...if we considered America to be an evil imperialist empire, and chose to show no American films, what about a Michael Moore documentary? Or a Noam Chomsky portrait? What of the dissidents, the protesters, the public intellectuals? We would no more prevent a film from Israeli from screening here, than we would agree to an Israeli demand to withdraw any Palestinean or Lebanese films from our programme.

Wise words indeed, and I wholeheartedly agree with him, and his closing statement is a superb piece of writing of which I am quite jealous...

No one learns anything from banning films, any more than we might from censoring books; it only cultivates ignorance and prejudice. When, on the contrary, what is needed is enlightenment and education.

Wonderfully said. Danielson also makes the good point that the filmmaker is in fact a strong critic of his government's policies. His previous film Checkpoint (Machssomim) took a similar stance and was shown at EIFF in 2003. He even points out that the vast majority of Israeli made movies shown at EIFF over the past decade do in fact take this same stance.

I have to applaud this statement, which appears to have been made without prior accusations, almost as a pre-emptive statement. His words ring true about my own beliefs of cinema and all literature. Indeed I was planning to see this movie from the very moment it was announced, and recent events make me want to see it even more. Look out for the review.

What do you feel about this statement and Danielson's words? Do you think the right things have been said and done in this case, or do you really believe the film should have been removed from the programming? If so, please do explain your reasons why.





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Comments

Usually, the best posts pass unadverted. This could really engage in a very interesting debate. Obviously, there is much at play in the Middle Western conflict, and Israel is trying to establish means of control.

This shouldn´t be about politics at all, but whoever thinks politics and movies (or all cultural industry) are sepparate fields is seriously wrong. Every period in history is reflected in the culture that was created then.

The perfect example would be the fall of Nixon in the Watergate affaire. I am amazed at how that affected the whole American culture. Even modern shows like the Simpsons and X-Files are born under that obscure influence.

If politics reflects on the movies, politics should never deter these movies from being exhibited. I don´t believe a word on Michael Moore´s logical assertions. Anyone beyond the mind age of a teenager can dismantle his tricky speculations. But so what? Alloh the film to prove himself at the eyes of viewers and time.

If the film points are good, so be it, and if not, let it fall by itself. But to inhibit or restrain the exhibition of any movie due to political reasons only allows the movie to inflate the expectations around it, sometimes far beyond the results.

This is one of the greatest examples of how politics and cinema are so closely interlaced:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000BWVAH/ref=sr_11_1/102-6980567-4613740?ie=UTF8

But these Disney shorts agreed with the Government of the country in which they were created.

It´s interesting how the opposite is flourishing these days. Filmmakers can be our best source of self-criticism, which is always healthy. Why deprive ourselves from such a privilege?

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