August 27, 2009

Ken Loach's cultural revolution

There a remarkably stupid and dishonest article in Comment is free trying to insulate Israel from boycott calls. It's by executive director of Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore. Headed Censorship has no place in film, you get a taste of how silly the article is going to be from the sub-title: Chinese efforts to censor our festival overshadowed Ken Loach's equally insidious attempt to prevent sponsorship from Israel. So China, you know that great big powerful Asian state, is comparable to Ken Loach and not only that but China seeking to stop film output is the same as Ken Loach suggesting that it is wrong to take money from the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

Here's another taste from the article itself:
Politics will always walk hand in hand with film, and with film festivals, but at the core of every festival, from Melbourne to Montreal, is the independence and integrity of the programme: it is a festival's primary asset and part of an inviolate bond of trust between a festival and its audience. To allow the personal politics of one filmmaker to proscribe a festival position would not only open a veritable floodgate, but also goes against the grain of what festivals stand for. Not that I felt the need to justify ourselves but in my response to Loach, explaining why Melbourne's film festival would not comply with his demands, I reminded him that it had had a long interest in the Middle East and has programmed many films about the Israel-Palestinian question – most, if not all, sympathetic to the Palestinians.

Loach's reply was:

Film festivals will reflect many points of view, which are often radical and progressive. It is also true that there are many brutal regimes and many governments, including our own, which have committed war crimes. But the cultural boycott called for by the Palestinians means that remaining sympathetic but detached observers is no longer an option.

In other words, everyone has been given a royal dispensation from Loach to commit war crimes bar the Israelis.
No they haven't, they just don't have lots of representative groups of their victims calling for a boycott.

Why can't Israel's apologists be honest? There have been honest opponents of the boycott but clearly this Richard Moore chap isn't one of them. Ken Loach has simply said that funding from Israel should be rejected or he will withdraw his own work from the festival. Withdrawing ones own work is hardly censorship and nor is rejecting funding from racist war criminals.

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