The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) apparently screened Iraqi film Son of Babylon against the wishes of the filmmakers — who object to the sponsorship of the MIFF by the apartheid state of Israel.
Israel faces an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign by opponents of its oppression of Palestinians. As with the international campaign against South African apartheid, this includes a call for a cultural boycott.
Isabelle Stead of Human Film, the makers of Son of Babylon said the film’s makers do not wish the film to be screened at the MIFF.
On July 30, Crikey.com.au published a series of leaked emails detailed repeated requests from the filmmakers to the MIFF asking their film not be screened.
In an email posted at Crikey,com.au, Stead said: “When we grant a festival permission to screen a film that took us years to make along with danger, blood, sweat and tears — we do so with trust.
“I would have thought a festival would morally recognise the need to tell a Palestinian co-production that it was funded by the state of Israel?”
Explaining she “made a fair offer to reimburse you for the shipment costs along with any monies you paid to our sales company to screen the film”, Stead added: “I will again reiterate that any permissions granted to Melbourne IFF to screen SON OF BABYLON have been revoked.”
MIFF executive director Richard Moore replied that the festival’s funding “is entirely a matter for our independent arts organisation” and they were “under no legal obligation to declare our sources of funding for external groups to approve or disprove”.
He said he found Stead’s “comparison between Israel and an apartheid state odious”.
Moore said he did not receive the request not to screen the film in time for it be pulled.