Matthew Kalman Blog,
October 11, 2009
Ken Loach, the British film director who has become a leading light of the campaign to boycott Israel, will see the profits from his new film used – to promote Israeli cinema.
Nurit Shani, the cinema distributor who handles Loach’s films in Israel, announced before the Israeli premiere of his new movie “Looking for Eric” that she would dedicate the profits to distributing Israeli films worldwide.
Recently, Loach has led cultural boycott campaigns against Israeli films in Canada, Australia and the Edinburgh Film Festival. Loach’s ultimatum that he would withdraw from Edinburgh unless festival organizers return an Israeli travel grant for a young Israeli film director drew criticisms of blackmail.
Even Vanessa Redgrave, the outspoken pro-Palestinian campaigner who was filmed brandishing a Kalashnikov in a Palestinian refugee campaign, this week denounced Loach’s boycott tactics in a letter to the New York Review of Books.
"If attitudes are hardened on both sides, if those who are fighting within their own communities for peace are insulted, where then is the hope? The point finally is not to grandstand but to inch toward a two-state solution and a world in which both nations can exist, perhaps not lovingly, but at least in peace," said Redgrave's letter.
"I believe it is any artist's right to express his opinion, and I have therefore always given his films a screen,” his Israeli distributor told the “Looking for Eric” premiere audience at the Haifa Film Festival on Sunday. “Unfortunately, in the past year I discovered that Ken Loach himself does not share my views. The original artist, who I considered a great humanist, has turned out to be a man who does not believe in freedom of expression for people whose opinions oppose his own."