Jerusalem Film Fest Pulls Yigal Amir Film After Threats to Halt State Funding

Culture Minister Miri Regev proposed a compromise wherein the film would be screened outside the festival at a private cinema in Jerusalem.

Dror Artzi

The Jerusalem Film Festival on Tuesday decided not to screen a controversial documentary on Yigal Amir, after reaching a compromise with Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev.

 At a meeting with festival administrators, the minister threatened to halt state funding for the festival unless the film was screened outside the festival. Festival director Noa Regev agreed to screen the film, Beyond the Fear, a few days prior to the festival. However, the festival administration decided not to withdraw the film from the festival competition for Best Israeli Documentary.

The film, which had its world premiere at the prestigious Canadian Hot Docs Festival, was directed by Latvian-Israeli Herz Frank, and completed by Maria Kravchenko following Herzs death in 2013.

The festival director and festival board member Philippa Kowarsky met with the minister amid the growing controversy over the screening of the documentary that follows the life of Rabins assassin behind bars and his close family relationships.

At the meeting, Minister Regev suggested that the festival reconsider whether to screen the film as part of the festival. She proposed a compromise wherein the film would be screened outside the festival at a private cinema in Jerusalem, and said that if not, she would order the Culture Ministrys funding for this years festival to be suspended.

The minister also said that in the last few days her office had received thousands of requests from citizens calling on her to take action against the screening of the film as part of the festival. Its inconceivable for a festival supported by the state to present a film about a vile assassin of a prime minister. His bullets trampled over the symbol of the state, democracy and freedom of expression. These are sacred values that were violated by the despicable murderer. In any event, I call on the Israeli public to stay away from this movie, she said.

Film Festival Director Noa Regev said she insisted that the festival enable viewers who wish to see the film to do so and that the festival reserves the right to have the film participate in the documentary competition. The decision to move up the screening date came out of consideration for the publics feelings, said Noa Regev. There was absolutely no surrender to the ministers threats. If threats were the only thing on the table, we would have acted differently.

Noa Regev added, Those who opposed the screening of the film condemned the work without having seen it. We object to a work of art being condemned purely on the basis of its subject matter. Many cinematic masterpieces deal with sensitive subjects. Contrary to how it has been portrayed in the press, the film does not support the Rabin assassination. It shows that this is a man who murdered out of ideology and not madness, and in this sense it echoes the ideas of Hannah Arendt.