Israeli Filmmaker Works Around Boycott to Reach U.K. Film Festival

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An Israeli filmmaker's online appeal succeeded in raising money for him to attend a prestigious film festival in Britain, after festival organizers boycotted an offer by the Israeli embassy to cover his travel expenses.

Though Yoav Hornung's movie Deserted was selected for a screening in the Encounters short film festival, festival organizers said the decision to reject the funding was made to protest Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

However, festival director Debbi Lander said that the rejection of the embassy's funds would not affect the screening, which would go ahead as planned, and that Hornung was still invited to attend.

Hornung, lacking the means to reach Bristol on his own and without the embassy's support, launched an online petition on the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, appealing for $1,500:  "Help us attend the festival despite (and because) its Israeli Embassy boycott," read the appeal's opening line.

After only three days the appeal raised about $1,600, paving the way for Hornung and his lead actress Yaara Peltzig to reach Bristol.

"I received one very generous donation of $1,000 [about £600} by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. Others gave what they could. I'm very grateful for all the donations," Hornung told the Jewish Chronicle.

In his crowdfunding appeal, Hornung said that though he does not plan on using the festival to make a "political speech," he intends to show that a "political situation should not harm art."

His film, which focuses on "two Israeli female soldiers, in their final drill of officers school," Hornung told the Chronicle, "is not a pro-Israeli or a pro-Palestine film. It's a fictional work that anyone can relate to. It's about morality, human values and decision making."

Responding to the original report of the boycott the Israeli funding of the film, President of the Bristol Hebrew Congregation Alex Schlesinger said the decision was a "great disappointment."

"It really tells us that the mob on the street controls what happens at film and arts festivals," he told the BBC.

On the other side, Kamel Hawwash, vice chairman of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, expressed his support for the festival's decision, saying their decision accords with the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel, which includes a cultural boycott as well.

Screengrab from Deserted trailerCredit: Youtube

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