Jason Blum, white shirt, and Avi nesher at the festival before the fracas..
(photo credit: COURTESY IRIS NESHER)
“Well, this night went kinda haywire,” tweeted film and television producer Jason Blum, who was receiving the 2018 IFF Achievement in Film & Television Award at the 32nd Israeli Film Festival at the Saban Theater at the Steve Tisch Cinema Center in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, after a man rushed the stage and tried to pull Blum down.
According to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and several other outlets, the Oscar-nominated producer of Get Out and the current Halloween sequel was making a speech as he was presented with the award and said that he thought the recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the US was the fault of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, a statement that some in the crowd responded to with boos.
Speaking about the midterm elections, which took place in the US on Tuesday, Blum said, “A lot is on the line, the last two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedom as citizens of this country . . . The great thing about this country is that you can like Trump, but I don’t have to, and I can say what I feel about it -- and I don’t like it!”
As the boos and heckling got louder, Blum said, “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse . . . We have a
president who calls the press the enemy of the people. Thanks to our president, anti-Semitism is on the rise.”
A man identified as Yossi Dina, an Israeli pawnbroker who starred in a reality show called Beverly Hills Pawn
, approached the stage and tried to pull Blum off. Blum was asked to leave the stage, apparently for his own safety, as dozens left the auditorium in protest against Blum’s words. As Blum was exiting the stage, one of those who rushed to help him was the Israeli director Avi Nesher, who received the Cinematic Achievement award earlier. In his acceptance speech, Nesher also spoke about politics.
“Americans [also] have their issues with some of the political leadership in this country,” Nesher said, after noting that Israeli
politics are volatile. “I, too, am an American citizen and I, too, am worried about the state of affairs in this country my parents are
immigrants - twice, once to Israel and once to this country. I have been observing with horror the hate mongering which has become the order of the day for the American administration, and the Israeli one.
That’s why we make movies. To entertain but also to think.”
Nesher said that his film, The Other Story
, which opened the festival and which is currently playing throughout Israel, “deals with
tolerance and the Israel audience responded to it with unprecedented success.” He told The Hollywood Reporter
that those who booed are “a small mob that is not to be confused with the Israel we represent...we are the absolute majority.”
Festival director and founder Meir Fenigstein said in an interview with THR that “this is the first time we have ever experienced
anything like this and I am in total shock but I understand that this is a very tense day in American with the elections.” Fenigstein added: “This is not the place for politics and I remain apolitical.”
Blum, who at one point said, “They’re going to have to drag me off the stage,” to prevent him from finishing his speech, tweeted out the rest of his remarks after he had to leave the stage. In his speech, he said, “I’m especially honored to share the stage with Avi Nesher whose work I have admired for many, many years. Avi has never been afraid to tackle serious social issues and his films are beloved by audiences and critics around the world. He’s played a pivotal role in the growing prominence of Israeli cinema.” You can read the rest of his speech on Twitter at @jason_blum
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