Palestine House Educational & Cultural Centre

September 03, 2009 09:56 ET

Dozens of Prominent Filmmakers, Actors and Other Artists Protest Against TIFF's City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 3, 2009) - Dozens of prominent filmmakers, actors and other artists have signed onto a historic letter to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to protest against the Inaugural City-to-City Spotlight on Tel Aviv at this year's festival. As stated in the letter, they are protesting "that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine."

Signatories from around the world include high profile celebrities such as Danny Glover, Jane Fonda, Naomi Klein, Pulitzer Prize Winning author Alice Walker and acclaimed director Ken Loach. They are joined by independent filmmakers from Canada, Palestine and Israel.

While TIFF is quick to highlight their inclusion of Arab and Palestinian artists at this year's festival, several of these filmmakers, including Elia Sulieman and Yousry Nasrallah, have signed on to this letter to demonstrate their disappointment that TIFF has chosen to celebrate Tel Aviv. This disappointment is shared by individuals who have screened their films at TIFF - including Mark Achbar and Howard Zinn - and by local filmmakers who have been deeply involved with TIFF and have worked for years to make this festival a world-class event.

It is no coincidence that TIFF has chosen to shine a spotlight in Tel Aviv this year. In 2008, Toronto was selected as a 'test market' for a year-long public relations campaign launched by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve Israel's image. Israel's Consul General announced then that the culmination of this 'Brand Israel' campaign would be a significant Israeli presence at the TIFF. The City-to-City spotlight is one of many Tel Aviv centennial celebrations taking place around the world, with events in New York, London and Turin all being met with protest.

The signatories have made it clear that they are not demanding censorship or the banning of Israeli films or filmmakers. They are objecting "to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime."

The full text of the letter is available at: http://torontodeclaration.blogspot.com/

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