See our earlier report on the film festival here
From The Times
A row threatened to engulf the Edinburgh International Film Festival yesterday after it bowed to pressure from the director Ken Loach and returned a £300 grant it had received from the Israeli Embassy.
Sir Jeremy Isaacs, the former chief executive of Channel Four, accused the festival’s organisers of making “an appalling decision” and called on them to rescind it. Describing Loach’s intervention as an act of censorship, he said: “They must not allow someone who has no real position, no rock to stand on, to interfere with their programming.”
The grant was intended to enable Tali Shalom Ezer, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, to travel to Scotland for a screening of her film, Surrogate.
After days of protest against the award from pro-Palestinian organisations, Loach, an outspoken opponent of Israel’s policies in Lebanon and Gaza, urged filmgoers on Monday to boycott Edinburgh.
“The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable,” he said. “With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.”
The intervention brought an immediate capitulation from the organisers. In a statement the festival said it accepted that Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli Embassy”.
Sir Jeremy said that he was disgusted both by Loach’s actions and by the capitulation of the festival organisers. “Ken Loach has always been critical of censorship of his own work, albeit it was many years in the past. The idea that he should lend himself to the denial of a film-maker’s right to show her work is absolutely appalling,” he said.
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