Some 50 intellectuals and filmmakers including Briton Ken Loach have accused the Toronto film festival of complicity with an ‘Israeli propaganda campaign’.
The Toronto International Film Festival chose this year to present 10 films by local filmmakers on the Israeli metropolis for its ‘City to City’ program, which each year focuses its lens on a different city.
This year’s program was devoted to Tel Aviv and the Jaffa area. However, the choice led to protests that the film festival was ‘staging a propaganda campaign’ on Israel’s behalf, given ‘the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program’, said an open letter to festival organizers.
The program, it said, “ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories” after a “mass exiling of the Palestinian population” in 1948.
“Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.”
The 50 signatories to the letter include Canadian sociologist Naomi Klein, British filmmaker Ken Loach, American actress Jane Fonda and several other filmmakers.