(image courtesy BDS National Committee)

Since 1998, the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, better known as Docaviv, has grown to become one of Israel’s premier nonfiction film events. Several times in recent years, the festival has faced criticism and boycotts due to its sponsorship ties to Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sports and the nation’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land. In 2014, when American Revolutionary was entered into the program, both lead subject Grace Lee Boggs and interviewee Danny Glover criticized the move. In 2019, Moroccan director Nadir Bouhmouch declined an invitation to submit his film Amussu to the festival.

This year’s edition of Docaviv, which ran September 3 through 12, was hit with even more withdrawals. Cíntia Gil, artistic director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, had been a member of this year’s jury but confirmed her departure to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Portugal. Similarly, Danish director Eva Marie Rødbro, whose documentary I Love You I Miss You I Hope I See You Before I Die had been selected for inclusion in the program, withdrew the film. Two others — another unidentified director whose film was in the program and an anonymous international guest — also left. All had been individually contacted by members of the BDS movement.

In a statement, Alia Malak of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said, “We thank each international filmmaker and guest who has withdrawn from Docaviv 2020 over its complicity in art-washing Israel’s brutal regime of apartheid, occupation and settler-colonialism, and in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

“Docaviv has never taken a stance in favour of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, as stipulated in international law … support for the peaceful BDS movement continues to grow among artists and diverse communities worldwide,” Malak continued. “We urge all international film and TV workers to join them.”

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.