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Israel, film festivals and the BDS

I have an article up at Drum about the Melbourne International Film Festival and their cultural partner, the state of Israel. It begins:

The Melbourne International Film Festival is receiving Liberty Victoria’s free speech award, the Voltaire award, for its “refusal to buckle in the face of intense pressure from a foreign government and a left-wing filmmaker last year”.

The “foreign government” was China, which urged MIFF not to screen a documentary on Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur Independence leader who was also a guest of the festival. The award seems valid here: MIFF allowed for a minority voice to be heard, and didn’t kowtow to governmental bullying.

On the other hand, the “left-wing filmmaker” was Ken Loach, whose series of written exchanges questioned MIFF’s decision to accept funding from “cultural partner”, the state of Israel. Loach wrote:

As you are no doubt aware, many Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel. There are many reasons for this; the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods, the massacres in Gaza, all are part of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people. We hope you can reconsider accepting Israel as a sponsor.

Read the rest over at Drum .

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jacinda Woodhead is the editor of Overland. Her PhD research examined abortion politics in Australia and nonfiction as political intervention.

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