The chief executive of Israel’s main cinema group has announced that all profits from screening of the new Ken Loach film in Israel will be dedicated to promoting Israeli films throughout the world, as a response to the maverick director’s continuous actions against Israeli filmmakers.
Earlier this year, Mr Loach attacked Israel’s action in Gaza. He said it would be seen as one of the “great crimes of the last decade because of the cold-blooded massacre”. Last month, he was among the high profile figures urging organisers of the Toronto Film Festival to drop a celebration of Tel Aviv.
Yesterday, Nurit Shani, CEO of Lev Cinemas and Films, called Mr Loach “a very little man” and announced that all the profits from the Israel distribution of Mr Loach's latest film, Looking for Eric, and his next film, would be dedicated to promoting Israeli films in Israel and around the world. (Looking for Eric is the story of a dedicated fan of the one-time Manchester United footballer, Eric Cantona, who appears in the film.)
The announcement came just before the Israeli premiere of the film was screened at Haifa International Film Festival.
She said: “Through the last couple of years, Mr Loach has voiced his opinions against the Israeli government and its policies. I strongly believe that each filmmaker is entitled to speak his mind. That is why I kept showing his films.
“Regrettably, the last year has proven that Mr Loach does not share this belief. The filmmaker that I thought to be human and original, has proven that as far as he is concerned, he is the only one who's entitled to enjoy the fruits of freedom of speech.
“He is a filmmaker dedicated to silencing his Israeli colleagues from speaking their minds and to preventing their films from being shown around the world.
“This is sheer hypocrisy and a slap in the face of democracy and the human spirit of his films. Mr Loach is a genius at films, but his actions are of a very little man. His attempts to sabotage the Israeli film industry and his disregard to Israeli filmmakers are too blunt to be ignored.
“The only way to fight those who are trying to silence versatile voices, and that is exactly what Mr Loach is doing, is to make sure that the fascinating voice and point of view seen through Israeli films will be heard loud and clear over here and around the world.”