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Ken Loach promises Israeli profits will go to BDS

Director makes claim after being accused of hypocrisy for criticising Radiohead for playing in Israel while his own films are screened there

    Ken Loach (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Georges Biard)

    Ken Loach has declared that “every penny” of money earned from his latest film via Israeli distributors will go to “grassroots Palestinian organisations”.

    The award-winning director was responding to critics who pointed out that while he was criticising the rock band Radiohead for playing in Tel Aviv, his film I, Daniel Blake was being screened in cinemas there.

    In a letter published by the Guardian on Tuesday, Mr Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, the film’s producer, and Paul Laverty, its screenwriter, said that they “reject[ed] the allegation that any of us have exempted ourselves from the cultural boycott. Our film I Daniel Blake was sold to Israel by our sales agent, and is showing there now.

    “We will guarantee that every penny from the sale of I Daniel Blake that comes to Sixteen Films or the sales company from the Israeli distributors will go to grassroots Palestinian organisations fighting oppression, after consultation with the BDS movement.

    Despite Ms O’Brien stating that I, Daniel Blake was sold for Israeli distribution “accidentally”, the claim was dismissed by Guy Shani, the owner of Israel’s Lev cinema chain, who called it “absurd”.

    “Since 1993, when we bought Raining Stones, we bought every film [of Ken Loach’s] apart from two”, he told the Guardian

    “We never faced any trouble buying and the audience at the Lev cinemas is very open-minded and believes in free speech. So he is punishing the wrong people or trying to.

    “I can’t tell you how absurd this is. We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel. So successful that we had some private events with Israeli government institutions where they booked the film to show to employees because of interest in the subject.”

    “It is a conundrum that has puzzled me too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”

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