Staff from Israel’s embassy to France will not attend the opening ceremony of a film festival in Paris, despite the fact the event is partially funded by the Israeli government, over the screening of a controversial Israeli-made drama.
‘Foxtrot’, by Israeli director Samuel Moaz, is a highly acclaimed drama about a Tel Aviv family whose son dies in the line of duty.
It features a storyline about soldiers who try to cover up the shooting of four Palestinian teenagers at a checkpoint after mistaking a soda can for a weapon.
It was nominated as Israel’s entry for this year’s foreign-language Oscar and won the Grand Jury Prize Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2017.
It is due to be screened on the opening night of the Israeli film festival in Paris on 13 March – but Israel’s embassy staff will not be attending because organisers ignored a request to show a “more suitable” film at an event which will include an audience of foreign donors.
“The festival’s management, due to its own considerations, chose not to accept the recommendation. Therefore, the foreign ministry ordered the ambassador [Aliza Bin-Noun] not to be present at the opening ceremony,“ a foreign office statement to The Times of Israel said on Tuesday.
Festival director Helene Schoumann confirmed to Israeli media that she had been asked not to screen ‘Foxtrot’ on the opening night, but had refused to acquiesce.
“I really love the movie. I don’t see anything against Israel whatever… So I won’t cancel it. Of course not,” she told Haaretz.
Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev has repeatedly criticised the film, which she says is “boosting BDS [the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israel] and Israel’s enemies“ and smears the “good name of the Israel Defence Forces”.
She has previously said she will try to pull Israeli government funding from the festival and that she was grateful it had failed to secure a shortlisted nomination for what could have been Israel’s first Oscar.
The Israeli film festival in Paris runs between 13 – 20 March and will screen a total of 35 documentaries and fiction films.
In previous years, BDS activists have held demonstrations outside it.