[Boycott - Cultural]
Egyptian Culture Minister: We will boycott Israeli film
Fathya el-Dakhakhni & Mohamed Taha, Al-Masry Al-Youm
4 April 2010
Mahmoud El Lozy
Ben-Rafael shot a film that promotes the Israeli army, the French embassy should not insist on showing it. They even had the nerve to accuse us of 'antisemitism' for our decision to boycott it.
Mahmoud el-Lozy, Egyptian filmmaker
Police turned out in force at the French Cultural Center on Sunday after several Egyptian artists announced plans to demonstrate outside the center for showing an Israeli film. "Almost Normal," a film by Israeli director Keren Ben-Rafael, had been scheduled to be shown at the center's sixth annual film festival.
Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni lashed out at the French embassy for insisting on showing the film despite Egyptian sentiments.
"Whoever wants to see the film can do so, but we will boycott it," he declared. "If Israel desires the normalization of cultural relations, it must take more steps towards peace."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaky similarly criticized the embassy for its stance.
Egyptian filmmaker Mahmoud el-Lozy, for his part, withdrew his movie from the festival. "Ben-Rafael shot a film that promotes the Israeli army," he said. "The French embassy should not insist on showing it. They even had the nerve to accuse us of 'antisemitism' for our decision to boycott it."
Festival director Latifa Fahmy cut her vacation short to return to the center, but declined to give any statements to the press.
Cairo festival canceled over Israeli film
Smadar Peri, YNetnews (Yedioth)
4 April 2010
French foreign minister decides to call off event organized by French Embassy's cultural center in Egypt following judges' decision to remove documentary directed by Israeli woman
An Israeli documentary has sparked a political-cultural storm between Egypt, France and Israel.
The film, 'Almost Normal,' was directed by Keren Ben-Rafael, an Israeli woman who studied in the La Fémis state film school in Paris. It was slated to take part in the "Rencontres de l'Image" festival organized by the French Embassy's cultural center (CFCC) in Cairo from April 8 to 15.
The movie tells the story of a 12-year-old boy searching for his birthday.
Two weeks ago, the Egyptian panel of judges found out that the film was directed by an Israeli. One of the judges, filmmaker Ahmed Atef, announced his resignation last week. In response, the French cultural center in Cairo decided to remove the Israeli film from the festival.
But that was not the end of the affair. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was informed about the incident and ordered the cultural center's managers to put 'Almost Normal' back on the list of participating films.
"If this movie was found to be valuable, it must not be boycotted only because of the director's origin," the French foreign minister ruled.
The Egyptians refused to accept the decision. "If the Israeli film is screened despite our objection, we'll all quit," the entire panel of judges declared, explaining that they were against "any cultural cooperation with Israel".
Kouchner then issued another a new instruction. "As this film appears to be causing trouble, there is no point in holding the festival in Cairo," he said, and canceled the event.
Three years ago, another Israeli film – "The Band's Visit – was removed from Egypt's international film festival due to the organizers' "objection to normalization".
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