Thursday, August 03, 2006

Edinburgh film festival warns Israeli director not to attend film's screening

Reuters:

Israeli director Yoav Shamir said Thursday he has been advised by organizers of the Edinburgh film festival in Scotland not to attend the screening of his new work due to Israel's offensive in Lebanon.

Shamir's previous films include the critically acclaimed documentary "Checkpoint," which showed the daily travails facing Palestinians at crossings in occupied territory interspersed with interviews with Israeli military personnel.

In an email seen by Reuters, Shamir was informed by the organizers that due to expected protests over Israel's attacks on Lebanon, "it might be in your best interest not to attend the festival this year for your own sake, rather than for ours."

The organizers said they would continue with the screening of Shamir's new documentary, "Five Days." It chronicles Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip last year from the viewpoints of settlers, the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians.

The nearly two week-long festival, which begins on August 14, is one of the key events on the world movie calendar.

An Edinburgh film festival spokeswoman confirmed a letter had been sent to Shamir.

"We seem to be in the eye of the storm - we have political views from every point on the compass coming to us so naturally we would inform him about that," she said. "It is an amicable, advisory note."

"Things are quite tough here and we are leaving the choice to him," she added.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said 900 people in Lebanon have been killed in Israel's offensive, launched after the capture of two soldiers on July 12 by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.

The Shiite group has rained hundreds of rockets on northern Israel, killing 24 people. Another 37 soldiers have been killed in battle.

Shamir, 35, said he still planned to attend the screening.

"The festival has not thought about banning American film makers because of what is going on Iraq," he said.

"When a festival decides to take a stance like this it is a very dangerous kind of step to take," Shamir said. "Film has the potential to create dialogue which is essential for understanding between people."

Festival cancels sponsorship in protest at Lebanon conflict

Islamic leaders warn on Lebanon

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