In the light of recent press reports and in the interests of clarity...
The Edinburgh International Film Festival is well known for bringing together people from all over the world, regardless of race or religion, to screen and appreciate films for their own sake and we look forward to continuing this important mission. The programmed film screenings of SURROGATE remain as advertised, and the filmmaker will also attend the Festival as planned.
Statement from Iain Smith, EIFF Chair:
"On behalf of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I apologise sincerely for the distress many people have felt at changes in the arrangements for bringing the producer and director of the film 'Surrogate' to the Festival. Clearly we didn't appreciate enough that our Festival cannot keep itself entirely detached from very serious geopolitical issues and I am instituting a review of our procedures to ensure that there can be no repeat incident. Nevertheless, this experience has strengthened our belief in the need for film to bring people together and I hope very much that many will want to attend this year's Festival where filmmakers from 33 countries and diverse backgrounds and beliefs will be screening their films."
Wednesday 20th May, 2009 / 21:08 GMTShame on you EIFF. What will Ken Loach decide is okay for you to do next? As your managing director Ginnie Aktinson said, you're "set a dangerous precedent by politicising a cultural and artistic mission". If i was Tali Shalom Ezer I'd tell EIFF not to bother paying the £300 ticket. No main serious film festival would bend so easily. Very disappointing.
Thursday 21st May, 2009 / 02:57 GMTI agree with Nick Gosling completely. It's a film festival, nothing to do with politics.
Thursday 21st May, 2009 / 08:39 GMTCongratulations EIFF for making the decision to return Israeli Embassy money. This was the right decision. As was the case during the apartheid years in South Africa there were those who wished to maintain apartheid and not challenge the establishment. Politics permeate every aspect of our lives - especially at this point in history to align yourself with the state of Israel is to be complicit in the occupation and Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid against the Palestinian people. EIFF will be an honourable example of those of us who refuse to be used by the state of Israel to cover up crimes. Well done!
Thursday 21st May, 2009 / 09:35 GMTAnd if those who object to Palestinians sending 10,000 missiles into Israel objected to a Palestinian film would it get the same treatment? And what about those who object to the UK's complicity in thousands of innocent deaths in IRAQ? The list of countries whose policies one could oppose would leave you with no festival to stage.
Those who single out Israel for boycotts and censure and side with terrorists and racists should consider whether the company they keep does not taint them too. In Israel there are Arabs in Parliament, equal access to healthcare and universities and a vibrant democracy despite continued attempts at its destruction by its neighbours who are neither democratic nor safe for those who are different. I don't support everything Israel does, but neither do I support everything the UK does. But a fair person would recognise the challenges Israel faces for its very existence and the efforts it makes to find a safe way to live with its neighbours.
Friday 22nd May, 2009 / 19:34 GMTIt was impossible to keep sport and politcs separate in the case of apartheid South Africa. It will turn out simliarly with Israeli apartheid and its search for respectability in the cultural sphere, while its bulldozers continue their grisly work of ethnic cleansing across the West Bank. Some people, of course, cared not a whit for freedom in South Africa, and their counterparts today are indifferent to, or even supporters of, Israeli crimes in Palestine.
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 / 12:31 GMTYou've gained a pyrrhic victory, EIFF, by acquiescing to Loach (a man who finds the expression of antisemitism "entirely understandable"), and deserve every drachm of scorn which is being sent your way. That your company has now offered to pay for Shalom-Ezer's flight is simply making virtue out of necessity, and the only point, in my mind, from redeeming your company from the same fate which has befallen the Writing on the Wall Festival in Liverpool. It has had future sponsorship from Liverpool City Council pulled because it was staging the modern mystery play, Seven Jewish Children unchallenged. I recall their Director said they could not change their schedule so close to the time: hasn't stopped the EIFF.
I was initially immensely impressed by Ginnie Atkinson's facing-down the campaign from the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity, led by individuals such as John Wight who has call Israel a "hydra-headed monster" which is the enemy of the "forces of human progress", and has alluded to Acts 9:18 which was central to Christian antisemitism. Then some director appoints himself as the spokesman for the film-making 'community', and your company says, okay then.
What perversity is there for a Festival claiming to represent the binding power of cultural output to then say that it does not wish to be associated with one national group? 'Artists' such as Loach receive their dues from us, the public, when we view their work - nothing more. I doubt very much he would have carried through his threat: he likes the publicity too much, and gets very hot-under-the-collar when his work is censored.
Saturday 23rd May, 2009 / 12:33 GMTSorry, just seen the previous post:
>> as I said in my email to Ginnie Atkinson, "If you are as Catholic as you appear,
Does she wear a wimple?
>> Israel has got to start obeying International Law and complying with the 160+(?) UN Resolutions it is currently in contravention of.
That these include such commandments as "Israel must not hold a victory celebration in [her capital city]" and then, "we condemn Israel for holding a victory parade in [her capital city]", and outnumber those against Sri Lanka in who has probably just killed more civilians than Israel has ever killed Palestinian Arabs, shows just how worthless they are.
EIFF, would you decline sponsorship from the Sri Lankan High Commission?
The criticisms directed against Israeli policy could just as easily be directed against US policy, but the EIFF accepts sponsorship from her Consulate, or British policy in Iraq or Afghanistan. Perhaps Loach should boycott himself.
Sunday 24th May, 2009 / 13:30 GMTIt is shameful that the EIFF is breaking its policy because of intimidation by Ken Loach, who is acting on his view that anti-Semitism is "understandable". How can he expect us to believe that Tali Shalom-Ezer is personally welcome while her country is ostracised and not permitted to subsidize her travel? Should she also leave her body at home because the government has paid for her healthcare? Please, EIFF, go back to your original, sensible policy!!
Monday 25th May, 2009 / 01:50 GMTPretty hopeless effort EIFF. EIFF should surely be independent from politics. You should have been big enough to tell Ken Loach where to go.
Monday 1st June, 2009 / 23:34 GMTThis is a shameful and spineless act on the part of the EIFF. Sadly, it is an all too Scottish decision. Quite simply the call went up from those with a hotline to the right faction, big KL waded in and the EIFF backed down. No more directors from China , Iran, the UK or the US funded by state Arts sponsorship till they raise their game? I thought not.
Few people support what Israel's current policy is in Gaza, but that is no reason for the EIFF to encourage what, in Scotland, is already a narrow and partisan agenda. Strangely enough, Israel, wrong as it presently is, seems to be the only wrong in the world worth righting. Odd that.
Sunday 19th July, 2009 / 17:29 GMTLoach just tried the same stunt at the Melbourne (AU) festival and they sent him packing. EIFF should learn by their example. Festival director Mr Moore said he would not accede to the request: “I wouldn’t do it. The festival wouldn’t. It’s like submitting to blackmail.” Shame on the EIFF for allowing Loach to run roughshod on your event.