LGBT Film Screening in Arab Israeli Town Nixed Following Threats

The screening of Rami Fahel's short film, aspiring to change stereotypes about the LGBT community in Arab society, was scratched from a Taibeh film festival after activists and local residents sent threats to him and the organizers

Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia
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Rami Fahel, the film's creator.
Rami Fahel, the film's creator.Credit: Hadas Parush
Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia

An Arab-Israeli nonprofit cancelled the screening of a film about the LGBT community at a local festival on Monday after the filmmaker and organizers received threats.

For its annual three-day film festival, the Tiashreen non-profit organization, which promotes culture in the northern Israeli Arab city of Taibeh, planned to screen nine movies, including "Mlukhiye," a short film about a young Arab man who is blackmailed because of his sexual orientation.

In response to the scheduled screening, activists and Taibeh residents sent threats to Tiashreen members and to the film's director and screenwriter, Rami Fahel. Unrelated to this issue, all other screenings at the film festival were cancelled on Monday due to technical issues.

A screenshot from "Mlukhiye"

While the NGO condemned the threats and described them as an attempt to control public discourse, it ultimately decided to cancel the screening of Fahel's movie "in order to avoid any violent incidents that may lead to the physical injury of members of the organization or participants." The NGO added, however, that it would continue "to represent the values of equality and tolerance in Arab society that until today were considered red lines – we will not let violence control us."

"Mlukhiye" is the first short film directed by Fahel, and it is the first film for most of the production crew. Fahel, a member of the LGBT community, told Haaretz the threats he received were "frightening and outrageous.”

According to Fahel, the film is meant to change stereotypes about the LGBT community in Arab society, but it has yet to be screened to an Arab audience in Israel because the issue lacks acceptance and many refuse to hold an open discussion on it. He adds that films about the LGBT community arouse a great deal of reaction because “the LGBT issue exists and is present in our community."

Furthermore, Fahel says that the attempts by a “few extremists in Arab society to defame, incite and erase the experience of the [LGBT] community” will not make him surrender.

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