Filmmakers withdraw from Amsterdam film fest, condemning Gaza genocide
The Palestine Film Institute called out the IDFA statement condemning the slogan 'from the river to the sea' during its opening night.
The International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) witnessed the withdrawal of a dozen of its filmmakers after the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” was condemned at an opening-night demonstration.
This comes after a speech by the IDFA director Orwa Nyrabia earlier this month was interrupted by three activists holding a banner with the slogan in the world’s largest documentary festival.
In its statement, the IDFA which ran from November 10 to November 19, said, “Our mission and our intentions are the opposite of hurting anybody or making them feel unsafe. That slogan does not represent us, and we do not endorse it in any way. We are truly sorry that it was hurtful to many”.
🚨22 filmmakers have withdrawn their films from IDFA, the world's largest documentary festival, in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian festival delegation.— Saeed Taji Farouky (@saeedtaji) November 17, 2023
Dalia Al Kury
However, two days later, another statement was released to explain their stance, clarifying that the slogan is critical “to the ongoing discussion [which] is used by various parties in different ways and is perceived by various people in various manners.”
“We are not ignoring, undermining nor criminalizing any of these positions, and we fully respect and acknowledge the pain that is going around and the extreme urgency of these discussions while war is still on, and innocent civilians are still dying,” it added.
In light of the IDFA statement, protests from the Palestine Film Institute (PFI), a national body for promoting the cinema of Palestine, called out the festival organizers’ attitude on the matter.
Happening now: demonstration has moved into IDFA main hub led my Palestinian Film Institute in support of Palestine and calls for an immediate ceasefire. pic.twitter.com/enVIT7nxGo— Chris Cassingham (@CCassingham) November 13, 2023
At least 20 filmmakers withdrew their films from the IDFA following the PFI’s call to withdraw, such as Basma al-Sharif, a juror of the festival’s experimental “Envision” competition.
Sharif, who is of Palestinian heritage, described the “from the river to the sea” slogan as an "anti-apartheid" term supporting a state that embraces all faiths with equal rights, and claimed that the IDFA's denouncement meant supporting "Israel's" “aggressive propaganda.”
It is worth mentioning that prior to the IDFA statement, 16 individuals connected to the Israeli film industry signed an open letter expressing “uttermost dismay, disappointment, and concern” after the speech protest and pro-Palestinian reception at the festival in Amsterdam.
Two days ago, in Amsterdam, two rallies were held—one advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza and another pro-Israeli rally. Police noted that the protests were calm, and no arrests were made.
In related news as well, a report by Oxfam Novib on Tuesday shows that some human rights and humanitarian organizations are suing the Dutch government for its policies toward "Israel".
According to the groups, the Netherlands is partly responsible for the collective punishment and breach of the rules of war on the civilian population of Gaza, especially because it keeps sending weapons to the Israeli occupation.
The Netherlands is also being criticized for its ongoing export of F-35 warplanes.
Samen met @amnestynl, @PAXvoorvrede en @TheRightsForum klagen we de Nederlandse staat aan voor diens houding ten opzichte van de oorlog in Gaza, in het bijzonder door het voortzetten van wapenexporten naar Israël. Lees hier ons persbericht: https://t.co/gbCuk2nIBO pic.twitter.com/QfIRYECfj5— Oxfam Novib (@oxfamnovib) November 14, 2023