Analysis: Rebuffing this man has become ‘brave’, but it’s an obvious stand

By Gary Sinyor, July 23, 2009

Richard Moore, who runs the Melbourne Film Festival, is my new hero.When faced with blackmail by Ken Loach, who threatened to pull Looking For Eric from Melbourne if Richard didn’t boycott Israel, Richard point-blank refused.

We may have won the test at Lords, but when it comes to balls, the Australians have led the way where Britain, embarrassingly, failed.

Mr Loach’s tactics worked only too well at the recent Edinburgh Film Festival, though he refused to go on the Today programme to discuss his position face-to-face.

One can only assume that the hypocrisy of distributing his films in Israel whilst calling for a boycott of Israel somehow struck home when pointed out to him by the Independent.

I have no doubt that Mr Moore will be receiving messages of support from all over the globe. I wrote one to my new hero myself. It read, “Congratulations on your courageous stand with regard to Ken Loach”.

As I was about to press ‘send’, I stopped. And changed it to “courageous and obvious stand”.

Because for all the arguments about what Israel should or shouldn’t do, the argument about what a film festival should do is pretty simple.

It shouldn’t allow it itself to be blackmailed. Period.

Edinburgh shamefully failed this most basic of tests.

Melbourne passed with flying colours.

And not just because of Ken Loach, but because when the Chinese government demanded a documentary about exiled Uigher leader Rebiya Kadeer be dropped from his festival, Mr Moore again refused to give in.

He’s not only courageous but blindingly consistent.

One wonders why what is so crystal clear in Australia is so murky in Scotland.

Gary Sinyor is a film-maker

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010