Toronto International Film Festival is being complicit in a million-dollar ‘Brand Israel’ PR campaign to change negative perceptions of the state of Israel by deciding to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv and the work of 10 Israeli filmmakers.
The Toronto declaration accusing TIFF of participating in the branding of the state of Israel came after Canadian filmmaker John Greyson decided to withdraw his documentary from the festival to protest the festival's decision to put a spotlight on Tel Aviv.
Among those who protested are Ken Loach, Jane Fonda, Danny Clover, and Canadian and Toronto born Naomi Klein. Klein said in a statement: “ it strains credulity” to think that TIFF’s decision to spotlight Tel Aviv was not connected to the Israeli PR campaign. Such a programming decision “feeds Israel’s foreign policy goals and presents Israeli society as more diverse and open than it actually is,” she said.
Covered, Greyson's documentary, and its relation to his decision to withdraw, by his own words: ''It's a doc about the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, which was cancelled due to brutal anti-gay violence. The film focuses on the bravery of the organizers and their supporters, and equally, on the ostriches, on those who remained silent, who refused to speak out: most notoriously, the Sarajevo International Film Festival and the Canadian Ambassador in Sarajevo. To stand in judgment of these ostriches before a TIFF audience, but then say nothing about this Tel Aviv spotlight -- finally, I realized that that was a brand I couldn't stomach.''
Read here Greyson's letter to TIFF's organizers
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