European film festivals hit with controversies over Israel-Hamas war

The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has sparked heated debates and protests across the world, and the film industry is not immune to the effects. Several European film festivals have faced controversies and challenges over their programming and policies related to the conflict.

The Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious and influential events in the film world, announced on Monday that it had cancelled the premiere of an Israeli film, citing security reasons. The film, titled “Supernova”, is a thriller about a Hamas attack on a music festival in Israel that kills hundreds of people. The film was scheduled to screen on Wednesday as part of the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, which showcases films with a unique vision and style.

European film festivals hit with controversies over Israel-Hamas war
European film festivals hit with controversies over Israel-Hamas war

The festival’s decision came after a wave of bomb threats and false alarms targeted several public venues in France, including the Louvre Museum, the Palace of Versailles, and 11 airports. The French authorities have attributed the threats to Islamist extremists who are angry over the Israel-Hamas war and the French government’s support for Israel. The festival said in a statement that it had received “credible information” that the screening of “Supernova” could pose a serious risk to the safety of the audience and the staff, and that it had consulted with the film’s director, producer, and distributor before making the decision.

The director of the film, Eran Riklis, expressed his disappointment and frustration over the cancellation, saying that he had hoped that his film would spark a dialogue and a reflection on the human cost of the conflict. He said that he understood the festival’s concerns, but that he felt that the film was being “silenced by fear and intimidation”. He added that he hoped that the film would find another platform to reach the audience, and that he would not give up on his artistic vision.

Berlin Film Festival faces backlash over Palestinian film award

The Berlin Film Festival, another major event in the film industry, faced a backlash from some Jewish and Israeli groups over its decision to award a Palestinian film with a special jury prize. The film, titled “Gaza Mon Amour”, is a romantic comedy about a fisherman who finds a statue of Apollo in the sea and falls in love with a seamstress. The film was praised by the jury for its “humor, tenderness, and humanism” and its “poetic and political” portrayal of life in Gaza.

However, some Jewish and Israeli groups criticized the film for being “propaganda” and “glorifying terrorism”. They accused the film of ignoring the role of Hamas in oppressing the people of Gaza and launching rockets at Israel. They also claimed that the film was part of a larger campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel in the international arena. They called on the festival to revoke the award and apologize to the Israeli people.

The festival’s director, Carlo Chatrian, defended the film and the jury’s decision, saying that the film was not a political statement, but a work of art that reflected the reality and the dreams of the people of Gaza. He said that the festival was not taking sides in the conflict, but was celebrating the diversity and the creativity of the filmmakers from different backgrounds and perspectives. He said that the festival was committed to fostering a culture of dialogue and respect, and that he hoped that the film would contribute to a better understanding of the situation in Gaza.

Venice Film Festival sparks controversy over Israeli jury member

The Venice Film Festival, the oldest and one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, sparked a controversy over its choice of an Israeli jury member. The festival announced on Tuesday that it had appointed Hagai Levi, a renowned Israeli filmmaker and television creator, as one of the nine members of the jury that will decide the winners of the festival’s main competition. Levi is best known for creating the acclaimed series “The Affair”, “In Treatment”, and “Our Boys”.

The festival’s decision was met with criticism and protests from some Palestinian and pro-Palestinian groups, who accused the festival of “normalizing” and “whitewashing” the Israeli occupation and aggression. They argued that Levi was not a neutral or independent figure, but a supporter of the Israeli government and its policies. They cited his statements on social media, where he expressed his solidarity with the Israeli people and condemned the Hamas attacks. They also pointed out that he had served in the Israeli army, which they considered a “war crime” organization. They demanded that the festival remove Levi from the jury and replace him with a Palestinian or a pro-Palestinian filmmaker.

The festival’s president, Roberto Cicutto, rejected the demands and defended Levi’s appointment, saying that he was chosen for his artistic merits and his professional experience, not for his political views or his nationality. He said that the festival was not a political platform, but a cultural event that respected the freedom and the diversity of the artists and the jury members. He said that the festival was not endorsing or supporting any party in the conflict, but was promoting a dialogue and a coexistence among different cultures and opinions. He said that he trusted Levi’s judgment and integrity, and that he hoped that the jury would evaluate the films based on their artistic quality and originality.

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