Culture minister disinvited from 'Israeli oscars'

After Culture Minister Miri Regev's repeated outbursts lately concerning the internationally acclaimed Israeli film 'Foxtrot,' Israel Film Academy says politicians not welcome at ceremony.

September 12, 2017 17:43
2 minute read.
Likud MK Miri Regev

Likud MK Miri Regev. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Israel Film Academy announced on Tuesday that it will not be inviting politicians to attend the upcoming Ophir Awards, taking a thinly veiled swipe at Culture Minister Miri Regev.

In response, Regev called the move cowardly and undemocratic, and vowed to stream her speech live on Facebook during the ceremony instead.

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The academy lamented that in recent years the ceremony has become an “inappropriate tussle that disrespects the event, and, even worse, disrespects the artists and the artistry it is meant to honor and recognize.”

The academy also referenced the events of last year’s awards, during which Regev left the ceremony in the middle when Israeli-Arab actor and rapper Tamer Nafar took the stage. The culture minister was protesting Nafar using lyrics from Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish.

According to the academy, the resulting firestorm and media coverage caused the Ophir Award winners to “stand in the shade of the turmoil and not receive the respect they deserved.”

Regev and the film world have clashed again in recent days, as she has repeatedly slammed the film Foxtrot, which was nominated for 13 awards.

Therefore, the academy said, no politicians will be invited to the awards ceremony set to take place on September 19 – a move it said is keeping in line with world practice. The culture minister has long been invited to both attend and speak at the awards ceremony.

Responding to the news, Regev vowed that she would not be silenced or censored.

“This is a cowardly and undemocratic decision by a body that is excluding the position of the public and its officials, particularly on a night that is supposed to represent the freedom of expression and creation,” she said.

Regev said the decision was made to stifle her opinion that “films that defame and lie about the IDF, like the nominee Foxtrot, will not be funded from the state budget.”

Regev has been heavily critical over the past two weeks of Foxtrot, which was nominated for 13 Ophir Awards and on Saturday won the prestigious Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Foxtrot is a favorite to win Best Picture, which means it could likely be Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards this year. The culture minister has said the film is slanderous and “portrays soldiers as murderers and white-washers of the truth.”

Since taking office, Regev has repeatedly clashed with the artistic community, in particular with her calls to censor plays, films and other performances she does not approve of. Earlier this year, she set up a committee to examine the approval process of various state-financed film funds, in an attempt to increase government oversight. And it’s not just the Ophir Awards that have proven controversial for the culture minister. At the ACUM music awards in June, Regev also left the ceremony early, protesting a song performed by Mira Awad with lyrics by Darwish.

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