Leading film artists speak out against TIFF boycott

“I am against censorship in all its forms. The attempts to stop TIFF's City to City spotlight on Tel Aviv amount to political censorship. I am against it.” David Cronenberg, Filmmaker.

“Empowered groups of people, deciding whose stories can, and cannot be told, does nothing but remind us of oppression that has no place in film-making.” Minnie Driver, Actor.

“The recent attack on Israeli films at TIFF is an attempt to politicize art.  It has been demonstrated that in Israel, artists are free to create work, which often is critical of their own society.  “Waltz with Bashir” was nominated for an Academy Award last year, despite its criticism of Israeli government policy.  This recent attempt at political censorship smacks of anti-Semitic bigotry.  Let’s keep political hatred out of the artistic community. Artists should treat each other with respect and support regardless of religion, colour, or nationality. You can have a great career and become a Hollywood legend – but there’s a spirit of humanity and caring for others – that we are honouring tonight and we thank you for coming to Toronto.” Norman Jewison, Filmmaker.

“Israel is the only country in the Middle East where films are made without censorship of any sort.  Films that are critical of the country, or some aspect of Israeli society, even the Israel Defense Forces, are made freely, without interference and with the State’s financial support.  Witness last year’s Academy Award nominated Waltz With Bashir, which, despite its ferocious criticism of Israel, was largely funded by the Israel Film fund, a government agency.

The attack on TIFF is a vile attempt by a gang of fashionable bigots to use coercive tactics to stifle voices they don‘t like.  These are not crusaders for justice.  If they were, they would be alarmed by films from countries like Malaysia (where a woman gets lashes for wearing trousers), China and Iran where civil liberties are in short supply.  But these vigilantes have no stomach for standing up to ruthless totalitarian regimes.  They prefer to wage their crusade against a tried and tested target: Jews.  Today, Jewish filmmakers from Tel Aviv get their turn.

Their brand of political censorship is at odds with the most cherished values of Canadian society: Freedom of expression and freedom of choice.  Bigotry like theirs has no place at the Toronto International Film Festival.” Robert Lantos, Filmmaker.

“Film is essentially about telling global stories – of exploring the complexities and contradictions of the human condition. Any attempt to silence that conversation –to hijack the festival for any political agenda in the end, only serves to silence artistic voices.” Ivan Reitman, Filmmaker.

“Back in the early 1970's when I was performing at the newly founded Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto Free Theatre and Factory Lab Theatre, Toronto police had what was called a"Morality Squad" to protect the population from unseemly material. I remember an early production by playwright Hrant Alianak was seen by the squad and deemed unworthy of public performance. They threatened that if the show wasn't closed immediately, the next night anyone onstage could be arrested and charged -- and so over fifty well-known Toronto artists like Pierre Berton sat on the stage the next night and dared the police to arrest them.  That night effectively ended the power of Toronto's Morality Squad. Censorship has reared its ugly head now and again, against all kinds of art, for all kinds of reasons. The reasons invariably suit only the agenda of the one doing the censoring -- as if the same specious logic couldn't be turned on them one day.” Saul Rubinek, Actor and Director. 

“The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been hijacked by a group of so-called activists bent on furthering their agenda - to demonize Jews and to marginalize Israel, in order to bring about the destruction of the Jewish State. Clearly, they do not support a two state solution. By objecting to a “spotlight” on Tel Aviv they are saying that no place in Israel is legitimate. From their twisted perspective, everything that Israel does is - by definition - illegitimate and everything that the enemies of Israel do is - by definition - legitimate. This is anti-Semitism in its crudest form. Furthermore, they have chosen to align themselves with Gaza’s Hamas regime that stands for terrorism, fundamentalism and totalitarianism. It is a Holocaust denying organization that is against Jews, Christians, gays and women. There is no worse regime in the world and yet Naomi Klein, John Greyson and company have chosen to identify themselves with it. You can tell a person by their friends.” Simcha Jacobovici, Filmmaker.



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