RAMALLAH, Saturday, October 3, 2020 (WAFA) – Over 70 film professionals from Palestine and other Arab countries have signed a petition protesting a recent cooperation pact between Emirati and Israeli cinemas and calling for solidarity among the Arab film world.
The UAE’s Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), Israel Film Fund (IFF), and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film and Television School (JSFS) announced last week that they plan to collaborate on a series of initiatives, including educational exchange, joint film and TV projects and a regional film festival.
The Arab filmmakers said they were “shocked” that the ADFC had agreed to work with state-backed Israeli film bodies given that Palestinians were still living under occupation.
“For more them seven decades Palestinians have lived under military occupation and a colonial reality that gets worse year after year,” read the letter.
“We Palestinian filmmakers were deeply hindered and affected by this colonialism and military occupation. Our productions depended on foreign financing and support that allowed us to express and write our stories, share our daily lives and aspirations in some small way. We were able to overcome the barriers of our colonial reality to present pioneering and valuable cinematic works,” it continued.
“We were and still are part of Arab cinema, our most prominent reference. We have always sought to develop it, and our ambition has crystallized towards partnerships and co-productions with our fellow colleagues as the best way to advance Arab cinema.”
The cinema pact follows a deal in August in which the UAE became only the third Arab country to normalize relations with the occupying state of Israel since its creation in 1948. Bahrain also followed suit in early September, becoming the fourth.
The normalization agreements were vehemently condemned by the Palestinian leadership as they were not the result of a negotiated peace settlement between Palestine and the Israeli occupation.
The Palestinian filmmakers called on their Emirati counterparts and other Arab film professionals to “renounce the partnership” and to refuse to work with the ADFC and any other institution in the Arab world that entered agreements with the Israeli government. They added that ADFC should be striving instead to support Arab cinema in general and Palestinian and Emirati cinema in particular with the creation of strong Arab institutions and partnerships.
In the past, individual Arab film professionals have tended to decline from working with Israeli government-backed film bodies or festivals out of solidarity for Palestinians living under apartheid and occupation.