A group of more than 130 names from the film world, including at least 100 LGBTQIA+ filmmakers and film artists, have signed a pledge to boycott TLVFest, Tel Aviv’s government-sponsored LGBT film festival, in what they say is solidarity with Palestinian members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The pledge was organized by Palestinian queer organizations and PACBI, the academic and cultural arm of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, a pro-Palestinian activist group that seeks to cut, among other things, global cultural ties with Israel in protest of the country’s treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the the occupied territories.
Among the signatories are Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger, Palme d’Or nominee Alain Guiraudie, award-winning Indian documentary filmmaker Harjant Gill, U.K.-based Touch of Pink director Ian Iqbal Rashid, Portuguese director and screenwriter Raquel Freire, award winning avant-garde filmmaker Su Friedrich, Tribeca Nelson Mandela Award winner Thomas Allen Harris, acclaimed scholar, AIDS historian and screenwriter Sarah Schulman, award winning Canadian director John Greyson and Governor General Award winner Adrian Stimson, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky of Public Studio, Award winning video artist Richard Fung, America in Transition director Andre Perez, Catherine Gund of Aubin Pictures, and Adelina Anthony and Marisa Becerra of Latinx production company AdeRisa.
Film scholars Alexandra Juhasz, Thomas Waugh, Alisa Lebow, Marc Siegel, Shohini Ghosh, So Mayer, Ingrid Ryberg and Michele Aaron have also signed the pledge.
According to the signatories, LGBTQIA+ liberation “is intimately connected to the liberation of all oppressed peoples and communities” and commit “not to submit films or otherwise participate in TLVFest or other events partially or fully sponsored by complicit Israeli institutions until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights.”
Now onto its 15th edition, the 2020 TLVFest is due to take place June 4-13. According to the campaigners, there have been decade-long efforts to engage with the the festival, but it continues to maintain a partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Culture. As such, they claim that the TLVFest is being used as part of “pinkwashing efforts,” using LGBTQIA+ rights to “project a progressive image while denying the rights of all Palestinians, queer and non queer alike.”
The pledge, claims PACBI, marks a “new, proactive stand by queer film artists in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and dignity.”
Culture has become a growing battleground for pro-Palestinian activism. In recent years, singers Lorde and Lana Del Rey were on the receiving end of widespread praise and condemnation when they announced they were pulling out of concerts in Israel, while Madonna sparked headlines at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv when her performance featured a dancer wearing the Palestinian flag. Filmmakers including the likes of Ken Loach have long vowed to boycott any event that received funding by Israeli authorities.