The organizers of the 2006 Locarno International Film Festival have dropped the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a festival sponsor pursuant to a call for action from Palestinian film makers.
The Israeli Ministry was listed as a co-sponsor of one of the festivalâs programmes, called âLeopards of Tomorrow.â News of the sponsorship provoked a letter of protest (see below) from several Lebanese and Palestinian filmmakers and festival guests – who threatened to pull out of Locarno, which starts on August 2, if the links were maintained.
The principled stands tkaen by some cultural institutions in recent weeks can lead towards a better awareness of Israeli crimes and expose the reality of the Zionist project aimed at the oppression and expulsion of the Palestinian people and an intrinsic part of the âNew Middle Eastâ the US administration promotes through bombs and torture.
Letter from Palestinian filmmakers to Locarno International Film Festival 2006
We, the undersigned filmmakers and other invited guests to the Locarno International Film Festival 2006 would like to express our deep concern with the fact that the festival’s Leopards of Tomorrow program is co-sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Given the current belligerence exhibited by Israel in its ongoing brutal attack on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and infrastructure, justified by the same Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is listed as a cosponsor of the festival, we demand that the festival organizers reconsider their relationship to the government of Israel, and withdraw the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the list of the festival’s sponsors.
We make this demand in consideration of the hundreds of innocent civilians that have been murdered by the State of Israel in its ongoing campaign. We do so in consideration of the many cultural centers, arts institutions and universities targeted by Israeli bombs and missiles. We do so because we ourselves are under siege. We do so because we are in solidarity with those who are under siege. Under these circumstances, the actions of the State of Israel cannot be treated as normal.
We expect that our colleagues and friends organizing the Locarno Film Festival will stand with us, and remove the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the list of sponsors of the Leopards of Tomorrow program; if not, unfortunately we will have no choice but to withdraw our films from the program. We simply cannot, from an ethical standpoint, attend or screen our films in any program or event that refuses to recognize the direness of situations such as the present one and does not stand for human dignity in the face of barbarity perpetuated against any peoples.
It is well worth revisiting the timeless words of the German philosopher, Walter Benjamin, from his Theses on the Philosophy of History:
“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge–unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.”
Annemarie Jacir, Palestine (Filmmaker)
Kamran Rastegar, Dreams of a Nation (Invited Guest)
Elia Suleiman, Palestine (Filmmaker)
Hazim Bitar, Jordan (Filmmaker)
Sabine El Chamaa, Lebanon (Filmmaker)
Elie Khalife, Lebanon (Filmmaker)
Alexandre Monnier, Switzerland/Lebanon (Filmmaker)
Sameh Zoabi, Palestine (Filmmaker)
Myrna Maakaron, Lebanon (Filmmaker)