Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sauce for the goose: film festival politics

So what's sauce for the goose...

You're a filmmaker who objects to a particular government's actions. Then boycott film festivals with whom they are connected.

You're a country that objects to a film festival that has entries critical of your government. Boycott it.

The Goose:
British director Ken Loach has withdrawn his film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival in protest of Israeli government funding.
UK director pulls out of Melbourne film fest over Israel funding
The Gander:
THE Melbourne International Film Festival is reeling after the withdrawal of three Chinese films in what appears to be retaliation for the festival's backing of a documentary about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
China pulls films out of festival
Once upon a time the debate was about sporting boycotts such as the 1971 Springbok rugby tour. Mixing politics and sport. The Moscow and Los Angeles Olympic Games were the main casualties.

The dilemma: To protest against Israel you forgo the Uighur documentary. Rather than bin your membership of the Melbourne International Film Festival, the only alternative seems to be to lobby the Festival to end sponsorship by foreign governments or political organisations.

That's the course I'll be taking. Any thoughts?


  1. Kevin

    What do you mean when you say that to protest against Israel you forgo the Uighur documentary? Can you explain the link?

    It would seem to me that when the oppresssed (eg the Palestinians) call for a boycott one respects that call.

  2. If you boycott then festival then you will not see the Uighur story or the Palestinian film Amreeka (for which we have booked).

    The Maan News Agency reports says:

    Many Palestinian academics and intellectuals have signed on to a letter urging their international colleagues to “comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions.”

    I wonder whether this is a particularly relevant instance.

  3. Paying for the director to attend a Q&A session of her film ($9.99, an Israeli/Australian co-production) hardly warrants boycotting. I find the actions of both the Chinese government and Ken Loach (whose work as a film-maker I greatly admire) completely reprehensible.

    If Loach were fair dinkum, he'd be calling for the boycott of films from: UK, USA, Australia, China, Iran, Korea, most middle east countries, and too many others to list.