British film director Ken Loach is sending a crystal clear message to the world as to his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This week, Loach announced his intention to retract his work from the International Film Festival in Melbourne, Australia in protest against "the partial support it grants to Israel."
In a letter the British director emailed to festival organizer Richard Moore, Loach announced he would pull his film "Looking for Eric" from competing in the festival because it receives sponsorship from Israel.
"Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel," wrote Loach in his letter, parts of which were published in Australian newspaper, Age.
"$9.99." Israel funds airfare for participating artists
The boycott, according to Loach, is not directed against independent filmmakers from Israel or their films, but against the State of Israel, which, in his words, its "illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods" and "the massacres in Gaza."
Moore said that he would not fold to Loach's demands that he reconsider accepting support from the Jewish state. "I wouldn't do it. The festival wouldn't. It's like submitting to blackmail," he said.
The State of Israel does not directly support the Australian festival, but does fund the flights of Israeli filmmakers invited to present their work there. Animator and director Tatia Rosenthal, an Israeli working in New York, will be flown to the event this year.
Rosenthal will show her film $9.99, an Israeli-Australian production based on a screenplay by Edgar Keret that won at Sundance. The film, made with a budget of $3 million, is Rosenthal's third collaborative effort with Keret since 1998 when they worked together on Crazy Glue.
Contrary to the Australian film festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival bowed to Loach's demands two months ago to return Israel festival funds to the Israeli Embassy intended to finance the participation of Israeli director Tali Shalom-Ezer in the event. Loach then also threatened to boycott the program along with festival artists, filmmakers, and spiritual leaders.