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Israeli Filmmakers Letter on Greenhouse Project

Leonidas Kioussis
Catherine COLOMB-NANCY
(EuropeAid Co-Operation Office of the European Commission)
Rosamaria Gili
(European Commission Delegation in Morocco)

Dear Euromed Audiovisual Representatives,

We, the undersigned Israeli film directors, producers, scholars, and creative artists call upon you to respond to the appeal of our Palestinian colleagues regarding the “Greenhouse” project managed by the New Israeli Fund for Cinema and Television and the Ramallah Film Institute. Your response is warranted first and foremost because the appeal is signed by almost every known member of the Palestinian film community/industry (in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, and the Palestinian Diaspora), and by ignoring them you are ignoring independent Palestinian film production as such, which has received widespread international recognition. The claims raised by the Palestinian filmmakers are weighty and deserve your serious consideration.

We call upon you to respond to their appeal because unlike the citizens of the other partner countries who may benefit from the project, most Palestinian filmmakers are denied citizenship and are subject to foreign military occupation. (The majority of the signatories to the appeal were born after 1967 and have always lived under Israeli military rule). Since their lives are controlled by forces that are at best indifferent, but usually quite hostile, to their needs, wants and aspirations, it is inappropriate that a project like the “Greenhouse” ignore their concerns as well.

It is difficult to understand how you who have initiated the project, as well as those who have been chosen to manage it, think that it can be carried out without prejudice when one of its managing organizations is funded by the State of Israel and one of its target groups are Palestinian filmmakers living under Israeli occupation. The idea behind the “Greenhouse” is to develop documentary film projects in a spirit of creative freedom. It is difficult to imagine the Israeli partner organization being capable of taking an unprejudiced position vis-à-vis Palestinian film proposals that may be (and ought to be) very critical of the State of Israel and the Israeli occupation.

A case in point from the recent past is the script for the film “Paradise Now,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. “Paradise Now” was submitted to the Israel Film Fund where it was under consideration for months before it was ultimately rejected, and produced with no Israeli support. We fear that other Palestinian proposals that directly challenge Israeli occupation and contend with the complexities of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation, may share a similar fate should they be submitted to the “Greenhouse.” The “Greenhouse,” co-managed by an Israeli government-funded organization, may not be able to fulfill its obligation as an entity to which directors from different MEDA countries are expected to turn, naturally and freely, as a “home” for developing their documentary projects.

The stated vision of the “Greenhouse” is “to create a cultural meeting place for filmmakers from different MEDA countries; to promote dialogue and advance the normalization process between the various regional countries; to create a network of regional filmmakers, especially in light of the tense political situation.” It should be noted that Palestinian and Israeli filmmakers have been meeting and cooperating for years in the framework of their filmmaking and beyond it, i.e. in joint struggles against the occupation, and with the shared understanding that the “conflict” will only end when the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people ends. We fear that the intervention of a government-affiliated organization in these delicate and sensitive relations may undermine the partnerships forged over the years. Whoever has engaged in such cooperation knows that “normalization,” defined above as one of the “Greenhouse” project’s main aims, will only be possible after the occupation ends, and not before.

Finally, we would like to call upon you to respond to the Palestinian filmmakers’ appeal because if, as they claim, the Ramallah Film Institute is not a registered, publicly-recognized Palestinian organization, then what we are dealing with is a pretense of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. Needless to say, an Israeli-Israeli project could not possibly serve as a “Greenhouse” for many of the region’s filmmakers.

Sincerely,

Avi MOGRABI director
Osnat TRABELSI producer
Juliano MER KHAMIS director and actor
Rachel Leah JONES director
Yael LERER publisher
Eyal SIVAN director
Naomi AVIV curator and art critic 
Einat WEIZMAN director and actor
Simone BITTON director
Tal BEN ZVI curator and art critic
Dr. Nitzan BEN SHAUL film scholar
Gilad EVRON playwright and screenwriter
Rachel GIORA linguist
Yossi MAR HAIM musician
Liran ATZMOR producer
Ayelet HELLER director
Hannah KALDERON director
Yaron BEN HAIM director
Alex MASSIS producer and distributor
Lizka ASSA producer
Yael SHAVIT producer
Adi SHOVAL producer
Galit EILAT curator
Ofira HOENIG theatre director
Eyal DANON curator
Tal NITZAN poet and translator
Dr. Aim DEUELLE LUSKI cultural critic
Prof. Haim BRESEETH film scholar
Niv KHAKHLILI director and screenwriter
Denis MESHKEVITZ artist
Masha ZUSMAN artist
Hagit KEYSAR artist
Silvina LANDSMANN director
Shai CARMELI POLLAK director
Eitan GREEN director and screenwriter
David OFEK director
Iris RUBIN ARIEL director
Aharon SHABTAI poet
Motti LERNER playwright
Orly LUBIN women and gender scholar
Yitzhak LAOR poet and writer
Avi BANNON producer
Michal AVIAD director
Etty WIZLTIR producer
Ruthy SCHATZ director
Rachela MIZRAHI artist
Anat EVEN director
Hagar GOREN artist
Ariela AZOULAY director and culture scholar
Jack FABER artist
Ilil ALEXANDER director
Sami Shalom SCHETRIT teacher and filmmaker
Tamar BERGER cultural critic
Daniel WACHSMANN director
Arik BERNSTEIN producer
Yael MUNK film scholar
Adi ARBEL commissioning editor
Mikey ANBARY programmer
Ori INBAR director and screenwriter
Ram LOEVY director
Eli HAMMO director and editor
Avraham HEFFNER director
Yehuda Jud NE’EMAN director
Ronit CHACHAM writer
Ido HAR director
Avner FAINGUELERNT director
Adi BARASH director


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