Thursday, 17 September 2009

Why did Ken Loach boycott Melbourne and not Cannes ?

"Why Melbourne and not Cannes? Perhaps because Cannes is a large film festival with an extensive media exposure and the financial issues are too important for even such a committed filmmaker as Ken Loach to ignore, whereas Melbourne is a small film festival where it is easy to play the militant game and perform a great lesson-giving act."

Unauthorised translation of an extract of a piece (Isra√ęl, cible de Ken Loach) by Ariel Schweitzer published in Le Monde

"We learned this summer that filmmaker Ken Loach, who was presenting his latest film, Looking for Eric, at the Melbourne Festival, in Australia, had decided to withdraw. Loach wanted to protest against the screening of an Israeli film, The Meaning of Life for $ 9.99, and the fact that travel expenses of the author, Tatia Rosenthal, were being defrayed by an Israeli public institution. Previously, Loach had asked the festival director, Richard Moore, to refuse Israel's financial contribution. Faced with the refusal of the latter, who described Loach's request as "blackmail", the English filmmaker chose to boycott the event. [Melbourne film festival rejects Ken Loach anti-Israel pressure]

This is not the first time that Loach resorts to this method. In May, he succeeded in convincing the management of the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland to refuse the participation of another Israeli filmmaker Tali Shalom-Ezer, whose trip was to be paid by the Israeli embassy. After a lengthy debate, the director came to the festival, but she had to pay for her own travel costs. [Edinburgh film festival refuses Israeli grant due to pressure by Ken Loach]

Ken Loach is free to screen his film where he pleases. It is also his right to protest against the State of Israel and its occupation policies. The problem is the method chosen. For if one follows the Loach's logic, it is reasonable to question the filmmaker's decision to boycott the Melbourne Festival and not, for example, the last Cannes Film Festival where he came to present the same film, Looking for Eric. Indeed, five Israeli films (three long and two short films) were screened at Cannes this year. All supported by Israeli public funds and whose presence at the festival was also supported by institutions in the country.

Why Melbourne and not Cannes? Perhaps because Cannes is a large film festival with an extensive media exposure and the financial issues are too important for even such a committed filmmaker as Ken Loach to ignore, whereas Melbourne is a small film festival where it is easy to play the militant game and perform a great lesson-giving act."

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