Culture Minister Working to Withdraw Support of Israeli Film Festival in Paris Over 'Foxtrot' Screening

Miri Regev has been a vocal critic of the film since its release, despite not having watched it, claiming that it hurt the reputation of Israel's military

A scene from Samuel Maoz's "Foxtrot."
Giora Bejach/Lev Cinema and Spiro Films

Culture Minister Miri Regev is pressuring the Foreign Ministry to withdraw its support from the Israeli Film Festival in Paris in May because it is expected to screen the film “Foxtrot."

She said she intended “to inform the prime minister so that he directs the Foreign Ministry not to provide any support for the festival."

Regev, who is in Paris now, met with Israeli Ambassador to France Aliza Ben-Nun and her team to discuss a project promoting cultural connections between Israel and France. During the conversation Regev became aware that “Foxtrot” is expected to open the festival, which according to Regev “contradicts earlier agreements.”

In response to a query, Regev told Haaretz that Israel should not “support a festival that showcases films that slander us throughout the world and contains false content about IDF soldiers and its citizens.” According to Regev, she instructed her ministry’s director general to “make clear to the Foreign Ministry, which is allocating money to the festival, that it is inconceivable for the Foreign Ministry to conduct a policy independent from the government’s policy."

Ben Nun said that she will not attend the opening event of the festival, in a discussion with Haaretz. She explained that funds were “transferred to the festival before the film was selected” and that despite her telling the organizers that the “film hurts the feelings of some of the Jewish community,” they refused to pick a different film. She added that “we fight against BDS a lot, and this film is used by them against us,” and fruther questioned freedom of expression in situations when “things awaken criticism against us.”

The Foreign Ministry said that although the Israeli Embassy in France has supported the Israeli Film Festival in Paris for 18 years, “Last December the embassy suggested to the festival’s management, as it has on other occasions, that it choose an Israeli film that isn’t controversial and is suited to a festive opening night, when the audience is primarily Jewish donors.”

According to the ministry, “The festival management, for reasons of its own, chose not to accept the suggestion. Accordingly, the Foreign Ministry instructed the ambassador not to attend the opening ceremony.”

Regev has been a vocal critic of the film since its release, despite not having watched it, claiming that it hurt the reputation of Israel's military. She also said that she would not have approved the budgeting of the film had she known that it might hurt the IDF's image in the world. 

Foxtrot, starring actors Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, focuses on the life of a family: two parents and their daughter, who all reside in Tel Aviv, while their son- who is a soldier- serves far away from them. In September, the film won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, an award granted by members of the jury, and was shortlisted for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, but was not nominated. Regev commended the decision.

In response to the film's win at the Venice Film Festival, Regev said that it is "outrageous that Israeli creators contribute to the incitement of the young generation against the most moral army in the world while tossing around lies under the guise of artistic creation."