In its decade-long run, Tel Aviv’s LGBT Film Festival has never before been hit with such pressure from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists supporting Palestine — till now, as nearly half of its international guests have pulled out from participating.
Even its director, Yair Hochner, admitted the same, telling the Jerusalem Post, “I think they just did a very good job this year, the pinkwashing people, as they call themselves.”
The boycott efforts have been spearheaded by Pinkwashing Israel, who say the TLVFest “promotes the cynical use of gay rights – known as pinkwashing – to distract from and normalize Israeli occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid.”
South African director John Trengove was one of the first guests to pull out, telling organizers last week that he could no longer participate, and citing the concerns of BDS activists.
“It is impossible to look past the fact that the festival (and my participation in it) could serve as a diversion from the human rights violations being committed by the State of Israel,” Trengove wrote.
"Occupation won't wash away so easily. With the Palestinians against pinkwashing!"
While he had asked organizers to pull his film as well, they said that because they had already paid for its rights, they would be going ahead with its screening on June 1.
It’s the same case with Fawzia Mirza, a Pakistani-Canadian actress and filmmaker — whose screening of “Signature Move,” a film about a lesbian relationship between a Pakistani and a Mexican in the United States — is still being screened, despite her canceling her participation.
Mirza canceled, citing her identity as a “Muslim queer person,” becoming one of five out 12 international guest to cancel.
The producers of the film Chavela also requested their movie be pulled from the show, but noted that their distribution contract would not allow them to cancel its screening.
The festival is a part of Tel Aviv’s Pride Week celebrations, which will culminate in a Gay Pride Parade in the city on June 9. Palestine solidarity activists have long cited these celebrations as normalizing Israel’s occupation.
Organizers for the festival said the BDS’s targeting has caused “a severe upheaval and a threat to the existence of the LGBT film festival.”