Looking for Eric / Haifa Film Festival and Welcome Redistribution of Wealth

Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007
Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007

PULSE Exclusive

It is not often we hear of bosses voluntarily sharing profits,  so it was with some delight we heard the good news that the Chief Executive, Nurit Shani, of Lev Cinemas and Films in Israel will use the profits from our film “Looking for Eric” to benefit Israeli film makers.   We hope this new found determination to redistribute wealth will be matched by her wisdom in choosing to support those film-makers most starved of resources.  Logically, that would mean those brave free spirits in the Israeli artistic community who decide to respect the cultural boycott and refuse to accept any funds from the Israeli State. Who knows, but perhaps some time in the future Nurit Shani’s vision will help kick start projects about those courageous Isreali soldiers who formed the group “Breaking the Silence” and spoke out against the “reckless and gratuitous use of white phosphorous” in civilian areas in Gaza, and were appalled by the use of Palestinians as human shields? Perhaps too we will be fortunate to watch films about those young men and women in Israeli prisons who refuse to join the Israeli army because of the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. And why not include Palestinian film makers or is Israel really an apartheid State?  

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Looking For Eric, Melbourne Festival, and the Cultural Boycott

Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007
Rebecca O'Brien, Paul Laverty, Ken Loach, Kierston Wareing, Juliet Ellis and Leslaw Zurek at the Venice Film Festival 2007

In response to an earlier attack by Richard Moore of the Melbourne International Film Festival, The Guardian published an edited version of a response (Boycotts don’t equal censorship) by Ken Loach, Paul Laverty and Rebecca O’Brien. Here is the original.

When we decided to pull our film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne film festival following our discovery that the festival was in part sponsored by the Israeli state we wrote to the Director Richard Moore with our detailed reasons. Continually he has dishonestly misrepresented us and does so again (Comment is Free 27th Aug ‘09) by stating that “to allow the personal politics of one film maker to proscribe a festival position…..goes against the grain of what festivals stand for.” Later “Loach’s demands were beyond the pale”. Once again Mr Moore, this decision was taken by three film makers, (director, producer, writer) not in some private abstract bubble, but after long discussion between us and in response to a call for a cultural boycott, including film festivals, from a wide spectrum of Palestinian civil society, including writers, film makers, cultural workers, human rights groups, journalists, trade unions, women’s groups, student organizations and many more besides. As Moore should know by now “The Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” (PACBI) was launched in Ramallah in April 2004, and its aims, reasons, and constituent parts are widely available on the net. This in turn is part of a much wider international movement for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction” (B. D. S.) against the Israeli State.

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