Norwegian docfest boycotts Israeli films

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Norwegian docfest boycotts Israeli films
Roy Zafrani, whose film will not be shown as a result of the boycott. Photo: Roy Zafrani/Facebook

A Norwegian documentary film festival has been harshly criticized after it said it had joined the boycott of Israel and would not accept Israeli-made films.


“The Other Dreamers”, an award-winning documentary by the Israeli film-maker Roy Zafrani, has already been rejected by the Human Rights Human Wrongs festival, which takes place in February next year. 
“I’m sorry but we can’t show this film,” a letter from festival organiser Ketil Magnussen told the director, according to the Times of Israel. 
“We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel so unless the films are about the illegal occupation, or deal with the occupation or the blockade of Gaza, or otherwise about the discrimination of Palestinians, we can’t show them.”
Zafrani complained that he was being punished for the actions of his government in a way a director from no other country would be. 
“Film is meant to bring people together, not drive them apart,” he told the Times of Israel. “I see films from all over the world, from Syria to Iran, and learn about the people beyond their leadership. No one would boycott an Iranian director because of what his government does, so if he doesn’t get that sort of reception, neither should I.”
Magnussen defended his position, arguing that the boycott was necessary to highlight Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, after nearly 50 years. 
“We are taking a stand against the illegal Israeli occupation that has been continuing for a very long time and where the situation for the Palestinians only gets worse,” he told Norway’s Dagen newspaper. 
“The Other Dreamers” follows a group of severely disabled children as they seek to fulfil their ambitions, underlining how  a little intervention and support from society is enough to transform their lives. 
Tor Fosse, the director of the Bergen International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, also criticised Magnussen’s approach. 
“Boycotts are not the right way to drive cultural development. This is unfortunate,” he said.  
Human Rights Human Wrongs is part-funded by publicly funded bodies such as the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, the union LO, and Norad. 


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