Award-winning director boycotts Haifa Film Festival to protest 'Apartheid'

Mira Nair says she turned down invite to present her new film "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," in support of BDS movement.

July 21, 2013 13:26
2 minute read.
Film director Mira Nair

Film director Mira Nair 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Award-winning film director Mira Nair has decided to boycott September's Haifa International Film Festival in protest of Israel's "Apartheid" policies, she announced on her Twitter account Friday.

Nair, originally from India, began as an actress before becoming a director of documentary films and feature films. Her first feature film Salaam Bombay! was nominated for an academy award for best foreign language film in 1988. She subsequently gained fame as the director of such films as Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair and Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love. Nair was educated at Delhi University and Harvard.

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Nair said Friday that she had been invited to Israel as a guest of honor at the Haifa International Film Festival with her new film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, an adaptation of the Mohsin Hamid novel of the same name which boasts Kate Hudson and Liev Schreiber among its stars.

"I will not be going to Israel at this time. I will go to Israel when the walls come down. I will go to Israel when occupation is gone," Nair wrote.

"I will go to Israel when the state does not privilege one religion over another," she continued. "I will go to Israel when Apartheid is over."

Nair tweeted that she supports "Palestine for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) & the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Mov't."

The 29th annual Haifa International Film Festival was set to take place in September. International guests to the festival in previous years have included actors Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Elliott Gould and Paul Giamatti.

In recent years, a number of prominent artists and academics have planned visits to Israel and then canceled them in response to current events.

Renowned physicist Prof. Stephen Hawking pulled out of an appearance at the President's Conference in June in support of the academic boycott of Israel. Director Mike Leigh and recording artist Elvis Costello suddenly chose not to come in 2010.

The boycott movement has made increasing inroads in the film-making community, spurred by director Ken Loach, who refused to attend the Haifa International Film Festival several years ago. In 2009, several prominent actors and filmmakers, among them Danny Glover and Jane Fonda, threatened to boycott the Toronto International Film Festival to protest a week of screenings of Israeli films to mark the Tel Aviv centennial.

Hannah Brown contributed to this report.        

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