TLVFest Hit with Wave of Cancellations Ahead of Opening this Week
Artists and directors from Brazil, France and Pakistan announce their withdrawal from this year's Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival following calls from Palestinian LGBT collective "Pinkwatching Israel" and human rights activists around the world.
May 29, 2018 – Black, trans, Brazilian singer, performer and activist Linn da Quebrada announced she is cancelling her participation in the 2018 Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival (May 31 - June 9). She is joined by directors from Brazil and France, who, together with Pakistan’s Aks International Minorities Festival, have also canceled their participation in TLVFest. The cancellations are in response to appeals from Palestinian LGBT collective Pinkwatching Israel and human rights activists around the world.
TLVFest is deeply complicit in Israel’s Pinkwashing agenda, the cynical use of LGBT rights to distract attention from Israel’s decades-old denial of Palestinian human rights. The Festival, with its deep ties to the Israeli government, has refused to take a position against Israel’s recent atrocities in Gaza or its overall system of military occupation and apartheid.
Knowing that in Israel there are also people who suffer from oppression over their bodies and desires, I decided to cancel my participation, joining the cultural boycott that has grown in the last few months around the world, as a form of protest against Israel and its genocidal policies over Palestinians.
We talked to and listened to many people, from here and there, and with a wider and more detailed perspective in front of us, we decided to adhere to the boycott in disagreement with the Israeli government plan and its occupation in the region.
In coordination with Quebrada’s cancellation, Brazilian directors Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman announced they are withdrawing their documentary "Bixa Travesty" from TLVFest. The film, which won the Teddy Award for best documentary at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, is an intimate biographical portrayal of the life of Linn da Quebrada.
Goifman made the announcement on Facebook:
We decided to BOYCOTT TLVFest due to our profound disagreement with Israel’s genocidal policies. We cancelled the participation of the film "Bixa Travesty". ENOUGH MASSACRES. Respect for the Palestinian people
Meanwhile, Aks International Minorities Festival announced they are withdrawing from a panel with TLVFest directors. Aks, whose logo has been removed from the Tel Aviv festival website, sent the following statement to Pinkwatching Israel:
After much consideration, Aks International Minorities Festival has decided to withdraw its short film program and participation at TLV Film Festival. Aks has long promoted human rights and stands in solidarity with activists from Palestine, particularly queer Palestinian activists, to oppose the violation of Palestinian civil rights by the Israeli government.
Responding to a letter from Palestinian and French queer activists, French director Sylvain Coisne announced his intention to withdraw his short "Dylan, Dylan". However TLVFest informed the director that tickets were sold and therefore the screening will go ahead against his will.
Brazilian director Calí dos Anjos and producer Bia Medeiros also announced the withdrawal of their short animation "Tailor" from TLVFest:
Out of respect for the Palestinian people we're withdrawing the movie "Tailor" from TLVfest's competition and program.
The cancellations come on the heels of Israel’s latest massacre of over 100 Palestinians in Gaza, which Human Rights Watch described as deliberate and “calculated” killings. Last year, TLVFest was hit with a wave of cancellations, including of South African director John Trengove.
Haneen Maikey, director of alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, commented:
For the second year, queer filmmakers are standing in solidarity with Palestinians by refusing to lend their art to "pinkwash" Israeli war crimes. Withdrawing from TLVFest 2018 exposes the Israeli government's cynical and deliberate use of queer culture and visibility to cover up the colonization and occupation of Palestine. We call upon other artists and filmmakers participating in the TLVFest to join, or at least heed, our boycott campaign and the burgeoning movement of principled artists demanding justice for the indigenous people of Palestine.
Hind Awwad from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) welcomed the cancellations and urged for the momentum to continue:
We are witnessing a rolling revolution in the cultural world, as artists refuse to allow Israel to use their names to art-wash its ongoing massacres against Palestinian protesters in Gaza demanding an end to the siege and the right of refugees to return to their homes. In the last few weeks alone, scores of music, theater and film artists have either publicly expressed support for the institutional cultural boycott of Israel or cancelled performances in Tel Aviv and participation in Israel-sponsored events.
We are deeply thankful for these expressions of solidarity from artists and collectives withdrawing from TLVFest 2018. Israel’s exploitation of LGBT events to pinkwash its murderous policies against Palestinians should be universally condemned and isolated, as a minimal contribution to our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equal rights.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was initiated in 2004 to contribute to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. PACBI advocates for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, given their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law. Visit PACBI at https://bdsmovement.net/pacbi and follow us on Twitter @PACBI