Sderot graffiti 311.
(photo credit: RON FRIEDMAN)
A day after Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat criticized the Cinema South Festival for opening the event with a movie that depicts experiences of Palestinians in the West Bank, the festival organizers went on the offensive Monday.
During her speech Sunday night at the festival opening, Livnat said, “Many people told me to boycott this festival. I am against boycotts and in favor of freedom of expression. Unfortunately, the movie that will be shown portrays a one-sided, twisted view that is not in touch with the reality that here in Sderot people know very well.”
Testimony, directed by Shlomi Elkabetz and starring his sister Ronit Elkabetz, features 24 Israeli actors giving monologues based on testimonies taken from Palestinians living in the territories as well as from IDF soldiers, which were largely collected by human rights groups B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
The festival’s program describes the film as “a series of voices, faces, people and places.
Testimony is an attempt to describe the system of bloody relationships
and lack of separation of Palestinians and Israelis who stand and hear
each others’ voices standing on the same strip of land. Two narratives
that are one.”
Livnat expressed concern that Testimony would be used internationally to portray Israel and IDF soldiers in a negative light.
Livnat was greeted with boos during her speech, including calls for her to view the movie before passing judgment.
In a statement issued on Monday, the management of the festival said
Livnat had told them she would not be able to stay for the whole event
because of prior commitments.
“The Cinema South Festival is a stage for a wide range of opinions and
standings, and not a place for indoctrination or moral corruption. We
call on the concerned public to come and prove through their attendance
that there won’t be a silencing of artistic creation in Israel,” the
Though his production agency said Elkabetz did not want to speak to the
press until after the movie’s release, the director told Ynet Sunday
night that he hoped for a more constructive dialogue.
“Obviously I didn’t want this movie to pass quietly. I wanted it to
bring up these subjects that arise again and again. Would I have been
pleased with a more deep and complex discussion? Of course, that is my
ultimate goal and expectation.”
The Cinema South Festival, now in its 10th year, is hosted by the Sapir Academic College.
The festival hosted 19 Israeli films and 16 international productions this year.