Mayhem at Israel Film Festival in L.A. After Award Winner Criticizes Trump Onstage

Producer Jason Blum is jeered and confronted by members of audience after discussing midterms, saying anti-Semitism is on the rise because of U.S. president

Jason Blum attends the 'Halloween' premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California, October 17, 2018.
AFP

A Jewish-American film producer was jeered and ordered to leave the stage after criticizing President Donald Trump while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Variety reported that Jason Blum was jeered during his acceptance speech and that an Israeli man climbed onto the stage and tried to drag him off it before security officials were called.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Blum as beginning his speech by saying: “Tonight we have much to celebrate with the opening of the 32nd Israeli Film Festival. But at the same time today, Americans went to the polls to exercise our right to vote. I have been quietly checking my phone and we’re doing pretty well.” Some members of the audience reportedly responded, “Depends for who.”

Blum is then quoted as telling the audience at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills: “A lot is on the line. The last two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedom as citizens of this country. The great thing about this country is that you can like Trump, but I don’t have to and I can say what I feel about it – and I don’t like it.”

As some members of the audience started leaving the hall and shouting angrily toward the stage, Blum continued: “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse. We have a president who calls the press the enemy of the people. Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”

Blum later tweeted a picture of himself backstage at the awards with the message, “Well, this night went kinda haywire.”

The  Emmy Award-winning producer, 49, is the founder of Blumhouse Productions, a film company that specializes in making low-budget but commercial horror movies. Some of his company’s recent hits have included “Halloween” with Jamie Lee Curtis, Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” “Happy Death Day” and “Get Out.” He was also executive producer on the HBO TV show “Sharp Objects.”

A man identified as Israeli pawnbroker Yossi Dina confronted Blum and reportedly tried to drag him off the stage. Israeli director Avi Nesher was the other honoree at the festival, and he was reportedly one of the people who rushed to help Blum when events started to turn ugly. 

Nesher also addressed the political atmosphere in America in his acceptance speech, but received a warmer reception than Blum.

“I, too, am an American citizen and I, too, am worried about the state of affairs in this country,” he said. “My parents are immigrants twice – once to Israel, and once to this country. I have been observing with horror the hatemongering which has become the order of the day for the American administration, and the Israeli one. That’s why we make movies. To entertain but also to think.”

After the event, Israeli actor Noa Tishby criticized the audience’s response. She told the Hollywood Reporter: “I am saddened by the response of the audience to the important criticism Jason Blum has voiced on stage. He should’ve been respected. I would like to apologize to Jason on behalf of the Israeli community. There were a lot more people in the audience who supported what he said.”

The Israel Film Festival’s founder Meir Fenigstein told the Hollywood Reporter that this was the first time such an incident had ever occurred at the festival. “I am in total shock but I understand that this is a very tense day in America with the elections,” Fenigstein said, adding: “This is not the place for politics and I remain apolitical.”