British film director Ken Loach may oppose promoting Israeli movies at international festivals, but his films are actually going to do just that: Nurit Shani, CEO of Lev Cinemas and Films, announced on Wednesday that the profits from the local distribution of Loach's new film "Looking for Eric" will be dedicated to the distribution of Israeli films both in Israel and abroad.
"In recent years, Ken Loach has voiced a number of criticisms against Israel and its policies," Shani said before the premiere screening of the film at the Haifa International Film Festival.
"I believe it is any artist's right to express his opinion, and I have therefore always given his films a screen. Unfortunately, in the past year I discovered that Ken Loach himself does not share my views. The original artist, who I considered a great humanist, has turned out to be a man who does not believe in freedom of expression for people whose opinions oppose his own.
"An artist that that has not read or did not understand Voltaire. An artist that does everything in his power to silence his colleagues, Israeli directors, from speaking their mind and from having Israeli films screened around the world."
In the past year, Loach led that protest against the Edinburgh International Film Festival, whose organizers chose to screen the Israeli film "Surrogate" with financial support from the Israeli embassy.
Loach later took part in a protest against the "City to City" program at the Toronto International Film Festival focusing on films about Tel Aviv.
Shani said she has been bringing Loach's films to Israel for almost 20 years, but could not hide her disgust with his latest actions. "I view his deeds as an act of hypocrisy, a burning slap in the face of democracy and the humanistic spirit of his films. His movies are of a great director, but his actions are of a small person," she said.
As a result, Shani decided to donate the profit from "Looking for Eric", and from his next film, to the distribution of Israeli films abroad. "I believe the way to fight the silencing – and there is no other way to define Loach's actions other then attempts to silence – is to ensure that the Israeli voice, the Israeli creativity that is so diverse and fascinating, be heard load and clear, in Israel and in the world," she said.
Loach's new film, "Looking for Eric" was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and is slated to open in Israeli theaters at the start of November.