The Jerusalem Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with Quentin Tarantino saying there was something special about receiving an award at the Old City walls, but the good feeling didn’t stop people in the audience from booing Culture Minister Miri Regev.
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Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, was particularly jeered when she mentioned a Palestinian’s recent killing of a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
At Thursday night’s ceremony at Sultan’s Pool, Tarantino noted that this was his second visit to Jerusalem and his first to the festival. The American director, who received an award for his contribution to cinema, paid tribute to Michael Cimino, the director of “The Deer Hunter” who died this month.
On Friday night, Tarantino is expected to meet with the audience at a screening of a restored 35 millimeter print of “Pulp Fiction.”
Regev’s speech, like last year, was received with a combination of boos and applause throughout. She said she intended to expand the Israeli pavilion at Cannes in May, and she would establish a cinema-development project in the south like the one in Jerusalem.
An additional 15 million shekels ($3.9 million) would be invested in the south to let directors from outlying regions address social issues that have been off the public agenda for many years, she added.
When Regev said the stabbing of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was part of a worldwide terror wave that had also struck Turkey and Orlando, Florida, she was booed and whistled amid shouts of “go home.”
But she earned applause when, in Spanish, she welcomed Emma Suarez, the star of Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta,” which was screened at the opening. “How predictable you are,” Regev told the audience. “It’s clear when you’ll applaud and when you won’t.” On Facebook, Regev also reacted to the booing.
“I’m embarrassed and pained in the name of Israeli society for the booing that cut off my speech as I was talking about a girl who was killed in her sleep and about the Biton Committee for ethnic justice in education. Not that it surprises me, it usually doesn’t. But suddenly it became clear that this elitist group is a Trojan horse filled with hate and contempt for Israel,” she wrote.
“Now of all times, when artists are coming who don’t boycott Israel and aren’t afraid to come and show support, we hear the ugly voices of our enemies at home. Those who whistled and booed aren’t ridiculing me, they’re ridiculing our country and its citizens, Mizrahi culture, and the war on terror,” she added, referring to Jews with roots in the Middle East. “And I ridicule them.”
Another festival guest will be the American musician and director Laurie Anderson, who will present her new film “Heart of a Dog,” while the American director Whit Stillman will attend the screening of his “Love & Friendship.”