In an open letter published in The Guardian, over 40 filmmakers including Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, and actor Miriam Margolyes, expressed their stance against the screening of Israeli films scheduled to play in cinema halls as part of the Seret 2015 Film festival.
Seret 2015 is a London-Israeli film and television festival, and is due to open 11 June.
The letter sent to The Guardian, states the filmmakers and actors view that by agreeing to host the festival “these cinemas are ignoring the 2004 call by Palestinian civil society for sanctions against Israel until Israel abides by international law and ends its illegal displacement of Palestinians, discrimination against them, and occupation of their land.”
Further pointing out that the festival is co-sponsored by the Israeli government via its London embassy, and hence normalises the Israeli government’s illegal oppression of the Palestinians.
“By benefiting from money from the Israeli state, the cinemas become silent accomplices to the violence inflicted on the Palestinian people. Such collaboration and co-operation is unacceptable.”
The letter stresses it is not a request to refuse to show films by individual film-makers “but to reject the involvement and financial support of the Israeli state.”
In a response statement, the founders of the festival, Anat Koren, Odelia Haroush and Patty Hochmann, stated “Our festival is a showcase for the many voices throughout Israel, including Arab Israelis and Palestinians, as well as religious and secular groups…Freedom of expression in the arts is something that the British have worked so hard to defend. An attempt to block the sharing of creative pursuits and the genuine exchange of ideas and values is a disappointing reaction to a festival that sets out to open up lines of communication and understanding.”