Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toronto International Film Festival: A Re-Cap

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is among the top prestigious film festivals in the world, considered by many to be on par with Cannes and Sundance.

As part of the festival’s new City to City program, presented this year were 10 films focused on Tel Aviv, to coincide with the city’s 100th anniversary. The festival showcased more than 300 films from 65 countries during its ten day run, but getting much of the media attention were these 10 films, or rather the objection to them.

Before the festival, filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his documentary in protest over the festival’s spotlight on Tel Aviv. Greyson wrote that by not participating in an economic boycott against Israel, TIFF has emphatically taken sides.” (emphasis added)

A letter of support for Greyson, the Toronto Declaration, was signed by many disillusioned individuals, including disgraced director Ken Loach (Click HERE for more information on Ken Loach), musician David Byrn , washed-up actor and fan of Hugo Chavez Danny Glover, and never was an actor but did pose in Hustler, Jane Fonda.

Protesting the boycott call, a number of celebrity artists, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman and Lenny Kravitz, responded with a letter of their own, which read in part:

Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic
and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect.

Since this response, much of the media hype has died down, especially as the festival got under way.

Jane Fonda, one of the aforementioned boycott supporters had a change of heart and apologized for her joining the boycott.

Artists 4 Israel says STOP CENSORSHIP. We are proud that our artists are better educated than some of these nincompoops. Yeah, we said it. Nincompoops!

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