Press releases

Mass Withdrawal of Brazilian Filmmakers From Israeli Government-Sponsored LGBT Film Festival

Filmmakers representing more than half the Brazilian short films have withdrawn their films in response to the call from Palestinian queers to boycott TLVFest over its role in pinkwashing Israel’s crimes. A total of 19 filmmakers and producers withdrew from TLVFest this year.

Eight Brazilian filmmakers have pulled their films from TLVFest, the Israeli government-partnered LGBT film festival, running through November 21.

The filmmakers, representing over half the Brazilian shorts at TLVFest, have requested their films be withdrawn from the program in response to the call from Palestinian queers.

Palestinian queers are calling for a boycott of TLVFest over its role in the Israeli government’s pinkwashing agenda, which uses LGBTQIA+ rights to cover up its apartheid regime and its oppression of millions of Palestinians, queer and non queer alike.

Ariel Nobre, director of I Have To Say I Love You, said in a statement:

I understood that it is better to listen to Palestine’s social movements and boycott the event. Queer and Palestine Liberations must come together!

Camila Kater, director of the award-winning animated short Carne, also withdrew from the festival. Producer Chelo Loureiro stated:

We filmmakers cannot remain unaware of the causes that require the commitment of all. The Palestinian cause is one of them, and the CARNE team, including director Camila Kater, as well as the producers Lívia Perez and myself, decided to withdraw the short of a festival in Tel Aviv in solidarity with the Palestinian filmmakers. Even more so because it is an LGBTQI+festival.

Carne has been nominated for the 2021 Goya Awards.

Bruno Victor and Marcus Azevedo, directors of Afronte, stated in an open letter to the festival:

[W]e would like to remove our film from the TLVfest programming, as a way of demonstrating against the human rights violations against the Palestinian people. We believe in the fight for freedom not only for the LGBT community, but for everyone.

We live in a country that is currently in line with Israeli policies, endorsing oppression against the Palestinian State, so as a way to take a stand both against the oppression imposed by Israel and against the genocidal policies of the Brazilian State, we decided to join the campaign boycott.

Cris Lyra, director of BreakwaterLuis Carlos de Alencar, director of Invisible MenVictor Costa Lopes, director of Revoada, and Asaph Luccas, director of Bonde, also withdrew from the festival.

The Brazilian filmmakers join Shin Seung Eun (Mother-in-Law, South Korea), Artemis Anastasiadou (I am Mackenzie, Greece), John Eames (March for Dignity, UK), Maggie Bailey (Sweet Sweet Kink, US), Andrew Blackman (Inferno, New Zealand) in pulling their films from the festival.

As in past years, TLVFest has refused to honor the wishes of most filmmakers asking for their films to be removed from the program. 

Ghadir Shafie, co-founder and director of Aswat – Palestinian Feminist Center for Gender and Sexual Freedoms, said:

Queer filmmakers across the world are refusing to allow their films, which give visibility to our communities and our struggles, to be used by the Israeli government’s colonial pinkwashing agenda to erase Palestinian queers and oppress all Palestinians. It gives us hope. We encourage others to join the Queer Cinema for Palestine pledge as we build our community standing against oppression wherever it occurs.

Additional filmmakers responded to Queer Cinema for Palestine saying they had withdrawn from TLVFest in solidarity with Palestinian queers, bringing the total to 19 filmmakers and producers.

During the “Love Queer Cinema. Hate Apartheid.” webinar held on opening night of TLVFest, filmmaker and artist Syrus Marcus Ware recalled the 1991 words of Black lesbian poet June Jordan:

A litmus test for morality at this current moment is, 1) what people will do in support of and in fighting for queer people and 2) what people will do in support of and in fighting for Palestinians.

More than 170 filmmakers from over two dozen countries have signed the Queer Cinema for Palestine pledge, committing not to participate in TLVFest or other Israeli government-sponsored events “until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights.”

A total of 18 filmmakers also sent videos explaining why they pledged to boycott TLVFest, including Palme d’Or nominee Alain GuiraudieElle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky of the award winning collective Public Studio and Touch of Pink director Ian Iqbal Rashid.

Background:

This year, TLVFest expanded its partnership with the far-right Israeli government to include the notorious Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which leads the government’s overt and covert repressive efforts to stem the tide of international solidarity with Palestinians, in coordination with Israel’s criminal secret services, the Mossad.

TLVFest sought to hide or obscure its partnership with the Ministry of Strategic Affairs following the first filmmaker withdrawals. It first replaced the English version of the ministry’s logo with a Hebrew version, then removed it altogether only to replace it again with a non-branded logo.

A newly created YouTube channel for the Ministry of Strategic affairs contains nothing but promotional videos for TLVFest. 

Filmmakers informed Queer Cinema for Palestine that TLVFest had once again enlisted Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) to counter the call from Palestinian queers. CCFP is a US-based propaganda front group for Israeli government lobby organization Stand With Us, which has allied itself with John Hagee’s racist and homophobic “Christians United for Israel.”

Dozens of filmmakers have responded positively to calls from Palestinian queers and allies to withdraw from TLVFest over the past few years.

In 2009, filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his film Fig Trees from TLVFest, stating, “to not take this stand is unthinkable, impossible”.

Press releases

130 Queer Filmmakers Pledge Not to Participate in Israeli Government Sponsored LGBT Film Festival

More than 130 LGBTQIA+ filmmakers and film artists from 15 countries have signed a groundbreaking pledge committing not to participate in TLVFest, the Israeli government-sponsored LGBT film festival in Tel Aviv.

The signatories affirm that 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 Israeli government sponsored events “until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights.”

Palestinian queers have called for a boycott of TLVFest due to its role in Israel’s pinkwashing agenda, which uses LGBTQIA+ rights to project a progressive image to cover up Israel’s grave violations of the UN-sanctioned human rights of millions of Palestinians.

Signatories include Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger, Palme d’Or nominee Alain Guiraudie, award-winning documentary filmmaker Harjant GillTouch of Pink director Ian Iqbal Rashid, producer and Lambda Literary Board president Amy Scholder, Tribeca Nelson Mandela Award winner Thomas Allen Harris, renowned scholar, AIDS historian and screenwriter Sarah Schulman, EIDF Grand Prix winner Minji Ma, award winning filmmaker Emmanuel Moon-chil Park, Seoul Human Rights Film Festival director Hyun Lego Park, award winning director John Greyson, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky of the award winning collective Public Studio, Governor General Award winner Adrian Stimson, award winning video artist Richard FungAmerica in Transition director Andre PerezCatherine Gund of Aubin Pictures, director and screenwriter Raquel Freire and Adelina Anthony and Marisa Becerra of AdeRisa.

Film scholars Alexandra Juhasz, Thomas Waugh, Alisa Lebow, Marc Siegel, Shohini Ghosh, So Mayer, Ingrid Ryberg, Chris Berry and Michele Aaron also signed the pledge.

Over the past few years, more than twenty participating filmmakers have supported calls from Palestinian queers and civil society organizations to withdraw from TLVFest.

This pledge marks a new, proactive stand by film artists in solidarity with Palestinian queers and the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Award winning filmmaker John Greyson commented:

I signed the pledge because queer and other Palestinians are asking international filmmakers to take a stand, just as was done in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Despite eleven years of calls to reject government funding, TLVFest has fought to maintain it, at the expense of queer Palestinians. In the future, I do hope that I’ll be able to screen my films at TLVFest, when they stop pinkwashing and publicly uphold Palestinian rights under international law as a necessary step towards achieving a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Until then, I hope others will also sign the pledge.

TLVFest has enlisted Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) to counter the call from Palestinian queers. CCFP is a front group for Stand With Us, a right-wing, pro-settlement lobby group tied to the Israeli government. Stand With Us has allied itself with the homophobic pastor John Hagee and his organization Christians United for Israel.

French director and Palme d’Or nominee Alain Guiraudie said:

I support the boycott of TLVFest. The Israeli government has imprisoned the Palestinian people for decades, colonized them, stole their lands and resources, denied them their right to exist as a nation. The plight of the Palestinians is the great scandal of the beginning of this century. All cultural initiatives allow Israel to develop respectability, an image of an open and tolerant state. The boycott now remains the only instrument for the international struggle against Israeli policy, the only instrument that I have in order not to be complicit in this oppression of an entire people.

South Korean filmmaker and EIDF Grand Prix winner Minji Ma, said:

In Korea I constantly learn of these pinkwashing issues, so I have tried my best to engage in the BDS movement. Israel is burying its head in the sand, so I couldn’t just wait and see. I signed the pledge in order to deliver the message that I am strongly opposed to pinkwashing. I send Palestinians solidarity with all my heart.

Queer and trans communities are increasingly refusing to be tokenized and used by Israel as cover for its oppression of Palestinians, queer and non-queer alike. Last year, more than 100 LGBTQIA+ groups around the world called to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel and Israeli government-sponsored Tel Aviv Pride.

Add your signature