Film festival rejects Loach's Israel boycott
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An Australian film festival has said it will not bow to pressure from British filmmaker Ken Loach to boycott Israeli films and sponsors.
The chief executive of the Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore, has rejected a threat by Mr Loach to withdraw his film Looking for Eric, starring Eric Cantona, unless the film festival boycotts Israel.
He said films had been chosen solely on artistic merit for next week's festval.
Mr Loach has already prompted the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return a donation of £300 to the Israeli Embassy.
The money was to have been used to bring an Israeli film-maker to Scotland for the screening of her debut feature film at the festival.
In the end the festival agreed to fund the travel of Tali Shalom Ezer, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, to screen her film Surrogate.
Instead, Israeli ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, handed over the £300 to actress Joanna Lumley to donate to the Gurkha Welfare Trust
Mr Moore said: “I'm not going to engage with this issue. I'll leave it to audiences to make up their own minds.
"We will not participate in a boycott against the State of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult, longstanding historical disputes.”
Israeli films are due to be screened at the festival, including Young Freud in Gaza about a psychotherapist who treats trauma in the Middle East.
The festival will also premiere the first Israeli-Australian co-produced film $9.99