Despite boycott calls, TLVFest goes ahead

TLVFest, the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ Film Festival (, will be presented this year in an in-person version at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and on the Ennis Jaffa Stage from November 11-20, despite vigorous attempts by the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement to shut it down. and delegitimize it. .

This year it presents one of its best and most interesting programs, with 150 films, 47 of which are short films by Israeli and Palestinian directors.

BDS has long brought “pink washing” charges against TLVFest, which is its way of saying that the Israeli government, which contributes part of the festival’s budget and has supported some of the Israeli films at the festival, uses the progress and the freedom of the Israeli LGBTQ community. as a way to divert attention from the oppression of the Palestinians. There have been calls to boycott the festival several times before, most recently in 2020, and this call was recently reiterated.

On November 1, the Queer Cinema for Palestine Festival announced that it would hold festivals in 13 countries on the same dates as TLVFest. The irony is that, according to their website, no events will take place in Palestine.

That should come as no surprise, as, as Amnesty International reported in 2020, “[Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] people continued to be denied the freedom to exercise their rights … Gaza criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity and punishes it with 10 years in prison. “(An email request to Queer Cinema management to clarification as to whether the festival would take place in Palestine was not returned at press time).

‘SUPERNOVA’ WITH Stanley Tucci (left) and Colin Firth. (credit: courtesy)

A strong response against the boycott call and in support of the festival came last month from a letter signed by 200 international celebrities, including Helen Mirren, Mila Kunis, Billy Porter, Neil Patrick Harris, Gene Simmons, Sherry Lansing, Paul Feig. , Greg Daniels, Lance Bass and many others. The effort was then sponsored by the Creative Coalition for Peace, a group of entertainment industry professionals.

The letter said, in part, “We stand united with all participating filmmakers against the divisive rhetoric of boycott activists who seek to misinform, intimidate and intimidate artists into withdrawing their films from the festival or shaming themselves for participating in the festival.”

REPRESENTATIVES from the festival emphasized that the entire TLVFest program was progressing as planned. The artistic director and founder of the festival, Yair Hochner, said in a statement to the filmmakers, urging them not to boycott: “Let me also make it very clear that TLVFest is not ‘washing pink’ anything. Otherwise. The mere existence of TLVFest stands in opposition to the homophobic, racist and misogynist parts of Israel’s parliament (Knesset), and we say so openly and proudly. We will also continue to collaborate with queer Palestinian filmmakers who are interested in peacefully coexisting and building a much more tolerant and inclusive Middle East for both Israelis and Palestinians. “

This year’s TLVFest will open on the Ennis Jaffa stage, which Hochner noted in his statement is led by a Palestinian activist, and one of the hosts of the opening will be Palestinian actress and filmmaker Samira Saraya. He will also participate in a special panel session hosted by Khader Abu-Seif, who participated in the documentary Oriented, along with award-winning documentarian and Labor Party member Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin, on working in Israel as a Palestinian. filmmaker. Saraya’s film, Polygraph, about an Arab lesbian nurse will be screened.

The festival, which was founded in 2006, has always hosted Palestinian filmmakers alongside Israelis, as well as various filmmakers from around the world. It is important not to let BDS and its politics obscure the fact that TLVFest is one of the funniest film festivals in Israel with a wonderful atmosphere and all kinds of special events, as well as quality films from around the world and Israel that are of interest to anyone who enjoys good movies.

This year’s festival will open with Astar Elkayam’s film Two, starring Agam Schuster and Mor Polanuer as a lesbian couple who are excited about having a child but discover that the path to motherhood is more complex than they imagined.

New international feature films include Lauren Hadaway’s The Novice, about a young woman who joins her college rowing team and pushes herself to the limit, which won three awards at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, including Best Feature Film. Narrative of the United States; Todd Stephens’ Swan Song, starring Udo Kier as a hairdresser who goes on a difficult journey to style a deceased client’s hair, and co-stars Jennifer Coolidge and Linda Evans (yes, the Dynasty star, who came out of retirement for this role. ); and My Best Part, the first film by Nicolas Maury, one of the protagonists of Call My Agent !, which stars in this story of a young man who leaves Paris and goes home to live with his mother (Nathalie Baye).

The closing film will be Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, and was directed by Harry Macqueen. It tells the story of a longtime couple who travel together through rural England as they face devastating news.

One of the most anticipated events at TLVFest is the Drag Competition and this year’s contest will be judged by Ginger Minj, Latrice Royale, Fluid Snow, FKA Anton, Dekel Lazimi Lev and Hochner and will be presented by Gallina Port Des Bras.

The festival will mark Transgender Awareness Day on November 20 with a screening of Trans – I Got Life by Imogen Kimmel and Doris Metz, a documentary about a world-renowned transgender surgeon and his patients, all of whom are in different stages. of gender reassignment, which will be followed by a panel with transgender leaders and many other films about transgender people are included in the festival.

The festival is run by the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and supported by many organizations and groups, including the Ministry of Culture, the Israel Film Council, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, Gilead, Dell, SPACE, Lev Cinemas and the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund.

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