Saturday, August 29, 2009

John Greyson's bold stand against TIFF's showcase of Tel Aviv...

I'm not sure if I completely agree with Greyson's reasoning for pulling his film Covered out of this year's Toronto International Film Festival in protest over its inaugural City to City program on Tel Aviv.

Regardless of one's position on Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (and vice versa), no doubt Greyson's move (and those of other filmmakers who are boycotting TIFF this year as well) will create considerable discussion. It already has.

Last night, CBC's The National ran a puff piece by reporter Margaret Evans on rumours of a mermaid off the beautiful coastline of a northern Israeli resort town. It contained many beautiful shots of beaches and people enjoying the sunset, the kinds of images no doubt being promoted by any "Brand Israel" campaign. Perhaps Greyson has a point that we ought not forget about Israel's ongoing treatment of Palestinians.

Here's an excerpt from Xtra's news piece on Greyson's move:

"In a public letter dated Aug 27 Greyson zeroed in on press comments from the Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin describing the Tel Aviv spotlight as the culmination of the Israeli government's "Brand Israel" campaign.

Despite being a supporter of an economic boycott campaign against Israel, Greyson's letter discusses the "specific and strategic" details of when he participates in such a boycott. He criticizes the Tel Aviv spotlight as too one-sided, lacking diverse voices from displaced Palestinians or underground artists.

"What eventually determined my decision to pull out was the subject of Covered itself," Greyson writes. "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."

You can view Greyson's Covered on Vimeo until the end of the festival. It's quite stunning.

1 comment:

Hi Lites said...

Tel-aviv is unquestionably the most tolerant city in the mid-east for gay people, Greyson is a hypocrite and should not have pulled his film.