Israeli filmmaker urges local artists to protest Toronto Fest
Udi Aloni calls on leading gay filmmakers to step 'out of their political closet' and protest occupation.
Left wing Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni has called on top Israeli artists to step out of their "political closet" and protest the upcoming Toronto Film Festival over its spotlight on Tel Aviv.
Several Israeli films are being screened at the festival's new City to City event, which this year celebrates Tel Aviv's centennial. A growing number of American filmmakers, actors and influential voices have signed on to a petition to boycott the festival, claiming it was covering up the occupation and the plight of Palestinians.
Aloni has directed his appeal specifically at directors Gal Uchovsky and Eitan Fuchs, whose film "The bubble" will be screened at the festival.
Uchovsky, a journalist and one of the judges on "A Star is Born," and Fuchs, a film director and producer, are prominent activists in Israel's gay community.
"The reason I chose to address you directly and publicly is, among others, the aggressive 'outing' campaign which you decided to run against Israeli celebrities during the large LGBT support rally in Tel Aviv last month," Aloni wrote in his appeal to Uchovsky and Fuchs.
"Following the rally, I decided it was time for the political 'outing' of you two, addressing you once and for all with the question: Are you with us or with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs?"
Aloni urged the filmmakers to choose sides, stipulating that if they were to choose opposition to West Bank occupation, they should also sign the petition against the Toronto Film Festival.
Aloni called his petition a "challenge to an ideological debate," following last month's shooting at the gay center in Tel Aviv, which placed Uchovsky under the media spotlight as a leading spokesman for the gay community.
In his weekly column in Tel Aviv "Time Out" magazine, Uchovsky personally "outed" one of Israel's top music performers. The column sparked many responses in Israeli media regarding the aggressiveness of Uchovsky's "outing" campaign.
'Just say no'
The petition to boycott the festival was drafted by an ad-hoc committee including Aloni, culture critic Naomi Klein and director John Greyson, who announced their protest over the homage to Tel Aviv.
Actors Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Eve Ensler have also recently joined the growing list of artists such as Ken loach and Slavoj Zizek. The three have added their names to a letter aimed at festival officials claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the "suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants," as reported on the Perez Hilton blog.
Two-time Oscar winner Rabbi Marvin Hier, who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the boycott "an attack on the heart and soul of Israel." "People who support letters like this are people who do not support a two-state solution," he was quoted as saying on Hilton's blog.
"By calling into question the legitimacy of Tel Aviv, they are supporting a one-state solution, which means the destruction of the State of Israel. I applaud the organizers of the festival for celebrating on the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv. If every city in the Middle East would be as culturally diverse, as open to freedom of expression as Tel Aviv is, then peace would long have come to the Middle East."