Minnie Driver, David Cronenberg, Norman Jewison, Ivan Reitman, Robert Lantos among those who speak out against TIFF boycott

    TORONTO, Sept. 10 /CNW/ - Leading members of the film industry are
speaking out against the group that opposes the Toronto International Film
Festival's spotlight on Tel Aviv. Judging films, they say, by their country of
origin rather than the quality of the artistic product, is censorship.
    "I am against censorship in all its forms. The attempts to stop TIFF's
City to City spotlight on Tel Aviv amount to political censorship. I am
against it." David Cronenberg, Filmmaker.
    "Empowered groups of people, deciding whose stories can, and cannot be
told, does nothing but remind us of oppression that has no place in
film-making." Minnie Driver, Actor.
    "The recent attack on Israeli films at TIFF is an attempt to politicize
art. It has been demonstrated that in Israel, artists are free to create work,
which often is critical of their own society. "Waltz with Bashir" was
nominated for an Academy Award last year, despite its criticism of Israeli
government policy. This recent attempt at political censorship smacks of
anti-Semitic bigotry. Let's keep political hatred out of the artistic
community. Artists should treat each other with respect and support regardless
of religion, colour, or nationality. You can have a great career and become a
Hollywood legend - but there's a spirit of humanity and caring for others -
that we are honouring tonight and we thank you for coming to Toronto." Norman
Jewison, Filmaker.
    "Israel is the only country in the Middle East where films are made
without censorship of any sort. Films that are critical of the country, or
some aspect of Israeli society, even the Israel Defense Forces, are made
freely, without interference and with the State's financial support. Witness
last year's Academy Award nominated Waltz With Bashir, which, despite its
ferocious criticism of Israel, was largely funded by the Israel Film fund, a
government agency.
    The attack on TIFF is a vile attempt by a gang of fashionable bigots to
use coercive tactics to stifle voices they don't like. These are not crusaders
for justice. If they were, they would be alarmed by films from countries like
Malaysia (where a woman gets lashes for wearing trousers), China and Iran
where civil liberties are in short supply. But these vigilantes have no
stomach for standing up to ruthless totalitarian regimes. They prefer to wage
their crusade against a tried and tested target: Jews. Today, Jewish
filmmakers from Tel Aviv get their turn.
    Their brand of political censorship is at odds with the most cherished
values of Canadian society: Freedom of expression and freedom of choice.
Bigotry like theirs has no place at the Toronto International Film Festival."
Robert Lantos, Filmmaker.
    "Film is essentially about telling global stories - of exploring the
complexities and contradictions of the human condition. Any attempt to silence
that conversation - to hijack the festival for any political agenda in the
end, only serves to silence artistic voices." Ivan Reitman, Filmmaker.
    "Back in the early 1970's when I was performing at the newly founded
Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto Free Theatre and Factory Lab Theatre, Toronto
police had what was called a "Morality Squad" to protect the population from
unseemly material. I remember an early production by playwright Hrant Alianak
was seen by the squad and deemed unworthy of public performance. They
threatened that if the show wasn't closed immediately, the next night anyone
onstage could be arrested and charged - and so over fifty well-known Toronto
artists like Pierre Berton sat on the stage the next night and dared the
police to arrest them. That night effectively ended the power of Toronto's
Morality Squad. Censorship has reared its ugly head now and again, against all
kinds of art, for all kinds of reasons. The reasons invariably suit only the
agenda of the one doing the censoring - as if the same specious logic couldn't
be turned on them one day." Saul Rubinek, Actor and Director.
    "The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been hijacked by a
group of so-called activists bent on furthering their agenda - to demonize
Jews and to marginalize Israel, in order to bring about the destruction of the
Jewish State. Clearly, they do not support a two state solution. By objecting
to a "spotlight" on Tel Aviv they are saying that no place in Israel is
legitimate. From their twisted perspective, everything that Israel does is -
by definition - illegitimate and everything that the enemies of Israel do is -
by definition - legitimate. This is anti-Semitism in its crudest form.
Furthermore, they have chosen to align themselves with Gaza's Hamas regime
that stands for terrorism, fundamentalism and totalitarianism. It is a
Holocaust denying organization that is against Jews, Christians, gays and
women. There is no worse regime in the world and yet Naomi Klein, John Greyson
and company have chosen to identify themselves with it. You can tell a person
by their friends." Simcha Jacobovici, Filmmaker.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Sally Szuster, Public and Media
Relations, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Phone: (416) 840-2988, Cell:
(647) 280-6017, sszuster@ujafed.org, www.jewishtoronto.com

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