Israeli Filmmakers Slam Shomron Film Fund As “Whitewashing Occupation” – Deadline

More than 250 of Israel’s top filmmakers have signed an open letter, saying they will not seek funding from, nor cooperate with the recentlyestablished Shomron (Samaria/West Bank) Film Fund, following the fund’s inaugural film festival in the occupied West Bank.

The filmmakers call on the Israeli Academy of Film and Television not to partake in “whitewashing the Occupation” ahead of the Ophir Awards — Israel’s Academy Awards — later this month. Read the full text of the letter below.

Among the signatories are multiple Academy Award winners and nominees. They have signed a public letter in which they state that they will not receive grants and will not participate in “lectura” (selection of films for development and production) or in professional events held by the Shomron (Samaria) Film Fund. The goal of the Shomron (Samaria) Film Fund, write the filmmakers, is “to invite Israeli filmmakers to actively participate in whitewashing the Occupation in exchange for financial support and prizes.”

Signatories include Oscar-nominated filmmakers Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir), Guy Davidi (Five Broken Cameras), and Oren Moverman (The Messenger); Oscar-winner Sharon Maymon (Skin); Cannes alumni Nadav Lapid (Ahed’s Knee), Avi Mograbi (Avenge But One of My Two Eyes), Keren Yedaya (Or), and Amos Gitai (Kippur); Emmy-winner Rachel Leah Jones (Advocate); Israel Academy Award winners Eran Kolirin (Band’s Visit), Yaron Zilberman (Incitement), and Shira Arad (Avinu); Sundance Grand Jury winners Raanan Alexandrowicz and Liran Atzmor (The Law in These Parts); HBO creators Hagai Levi (Our Boys), Hilla Medalia, Mor Loushy, and Daniel Sivan (Oslo Diaries); veteran filmmakers and film educators Ram Loevy, Michal Aviad, Ran Tal, Barak and Tomer Heymann, and dozens of other established narrative and documentary cineastes.

The Shomron (Samaria) Film Fund was founded by controversial former Minister of Culture Miri Regev (pictured). The fund distributes grants to Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”) and to productions by Israeli citizens filmed in the West Bank. The 2.5 million Palestinian residents of this occupied territory are barred from applying to the fund. Yossi Dagan, the head of the Yesha Council, which is the umbrella organization of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, was among the founders of the fund and the CEO of the fund is also the spokesperson for the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council.

The inaugural Shomron (Samaria) Film Festival took place in July this year. Israeli film distribution veteran Moshe Edery said from the stage at the festival that, “We will make every effort to bring the Israeli Academy Awards here one day, to Judea and Samaria.”

The full text of the letter with a complete list of signatories to date (translated from Hebrew), reads as follows:

“Israeli Cinema Will Not Be Instrumentalized to Whitewash the Occupation

“In July 2022, at the inaugural opening ceremony of the “Shomron (Samaria) Film Festival,” a call was made to bring the Israel Academy of Film and Television “Ophir Awards” to the occupied West Bank. The festival was supported and/or attended by Minister of Culture Chili Tropper, the heads of the Israel Film Council, the heads of the Rabinovich Film Fund, distributor Moshe Edery, and the Israel Screenwriters’ Guild.

“What stands behind this inaugural festival, as well as behind the recently-established “Shomron (Samaria) Film Fund,” is not a love of culture but a politic aimed at erasing the green line and the distinction between military and civilian regimes [i.e. normalizing the settlements]. It is, therefore, not surprising that this political foundation is headed by Esther Allouche, spokesperson of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council, and Yossi Dagan, chairperson of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council. Both the foundation and the festival invite Israeli filmmakers to take an active part in whitewashing the occupation in exchange for production financing and prizes.

[** Shomron is the Hebrew word for Samaria – which is the Biblical name of the land currently known in the world as the northern West Bank. Referring to these areas as “Judea and Samaria” is a nomenclature developed and used by Israel’s settlement enterprise and national religious movement.]

“The establishment of the Shomron Film Fund was accompanied by statements regarding the need for diversity in the Israeli arts and the imperative of giving expression to marginalized voices. While this is a worthy goal, the term “diversity” becomes devoid of meaning when in practice it obfuscates systematic violence and serious violations of human rights. The Shomron Fund is not a pluralistic fund — it is part and parcel of the mechanisms of apartheid [**open to one ethnic group (Jews) and closed to another (Palestinians) living in the same geopolitical area (the occupied West Bank).]

“Filmmakers bear responsibility for the image of the societies in which they live. In an ongoing reality of occupation, and a creeping process of annexation, we must draw a red line.

We, the undersigned, hereby declare that we will not cooperate with the Shomron Fund — neither now nor in the future. Not in its workshops, not in its selection committees, not in our filmmaking. Nor will we agree to hold the “Ophir Awards” in an area subject to military occupation.

“We call upon the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, its leadership and members at large, not to turn Israeli cinema into yet another instrument in the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

The letter has been signed by the following industry professionals:

Abadi Grebler                      May

Aboulafia                             Roni

Abt                                        Sinai

Adaf                                      Oren

Adwan                                  Adi

Alcalay                                 Itamar

Aldema                                 Aviv

Alexander                            Keren

Alexandrowicz                    Raanan

Alexis                                   Joelle

Aloni                                     Udi

Amit                                      Avi

Arad                                      Shira

Arav                                      Dan

Arbel                                     Adi

Ariel                                      Gilad

Ascher                                  Tova

Asher                                    Yair

Assaf                                    Roy

Assido                                  Noa

Atia                                       Yossi

Atzmor                                  Liran

Aviad                                    Michal

Avraham                              Yuval

Avrahami                             Idit

Avrahami                             Jonathan

Banitt                                    Assaf

Bar Yossef                           Adi

Bar-on                                  Uri

Beck                                     Ayellet

Behrendt                              Zohar

Ben David                           Amir

Ben Dor                               Orna

Ben Ezer                              Ellyot

Ben Shachar                      Shelly

Ben Yaacov                        Hagit

Bengad                                Ayala

Berman-Herzberg              Noa

Bezrukoff                             Sergio

Birger                                    Ori

Biton                                     Keren or

Braun                                   Netalie

Broun                                   Neta

Burstyn                                Igal

Cahlili                                   Ron

Carmel                                 Marco

Carmeli Pollak                    Shai

Chen                                    Naftali

Cohen                                  Roy

Cohen                                  Yulie

Davidi                                   Guy

Davidovitch Schicowitch  Elad

de Mayo                               Shark

Djerassi                                Doron

Dudinski                              Natasha

Dvorkis                                 Neta

Efrat                                      Halil

EinGal                                  Ofer

Elias                                     Meni

Elkayam                               Tal

Elkayam                               Revital

Elon                                      Danae

Elovitc                                  Sharon

Elpeleg                                 Danel

Even                                     Anat

Fadlon                                  Dor

Faingulernt                         Avner

Farber                                   Shira

Feldman                              Ofir

Feller                                    Nili

Folman                                 Ari

Fux                                       Niv

Gal-noor                               Shahar

Galezer                                Doron

Ganihar                                Alma

Geffen                                  Shira

Gitai                                      Amos

Glikzelig                               Idan

Goldenberg                         Taly

Goldman                              Omer

Goren                                   Shaked

Granit                                   Tal

Green                                   Shira

Gurfinkel                              Yoav

Hadad Barak                       Eran

Hager                                   Dalia

Halfin                                   Adi

Harel                                     Yasmin

Hasfari                                 Aryeh

Hasfari                                 Shmuel

Hecker                                  Reuven

Heffner                                 Maya

Heiman                                Michal

Heller                                    Ayelet

Hemi Artsy                           Kfir

Hersonski                            Yael

Herzberg                              Yoel

Heymann                             Barak

Heymann                             Tomer

Hochman                             Shira

Hochner                               Yair

Housari                                Emad

Hubel                                   Idan

Inbar                                     Talia

inov                                       Ofer

Izhaki Shepon                    Hila

Jabareen                             Tamam

Kainer                                  Karin

Kainy                                    Jasmine

Kaminer                               Michael

Kaminski                              Hanan

Karilla                                   Ido

Karshen                               Ziv

Kassem                                Ashraf

Katzenelson                        Ron

Kayam                                  Yaelle

Kenan                                  Shlomtzion

Khalaily                                Jamal

Kipper                                   Yael

Klar                                       Maya

Klimowski                            Roni

Knispel                                 Yotam

Kolirin                                   Eran

Koplewitch                          Meshy

Kra                                        Amit

Kutner                                  Adi

Lapid                                    Nadav

Laufer                                   Erez

Laufer                                   Miri

Lavie                                     Yael

lazarov                                 yehezkel

Leah Jones                         Rachel

Leibovitch                            Ophir

Leshem                                Yoav

Levari                                   Naomi

Levy                                      Hagai

Levy                                      Ori

Levy                                      Ricardo

Lilti                                        Eliav

Liron                                     Amir

Livnay                                  Yaron

Loevy                                    Netta

Loevy                                    Ram

Loushy                                 Mor

Madar                                   Tom

Mann                                    Daniel

Manoshevitz                       Meirav

Marom                                  Itay

Mayer                                   Bar

Maymon                               Sharon

Medalia                                Hilla

Meisler                                 Gili

Melamed                              Shauly

Merom                                  Alon

Michael                                Tal

Michalevicz                         Shirli

Miller                                     Daniel

Milstein                                Ohad

Modan                                  Dana

Mograbi                                Avi

Mor                                        Eldar

Morag                                   Hadar

Moskovitch                          Ilan

Motolla                                 Yaron

Moverman                           Oren

Nechemya                           Elinor

Nehari                                  Ram

Netanel                                Kobi

Nevo Fridental                    Shiri

Nir                                         Udi

Noy                                       Menashe

Oren                                     Hadara

Ozer                                      Iris

Peled                                    Omri

Peretz                                   Assaf

Peter                                     Sinai

Polonsky                              Asaph

Postel                                   Karni

Ranon                                  Michal

Raul Graizer                        Ofir

Raz                                       Renana

Raziel                                   Itai

Riklis                                    Dina

Rimer                                    Gadi

Ron                                       Michal

Rozanov                              Michael (Mysh)

Sade                                     Itamar

Sahar                                   Alon

Salmona                              Mushon

Samara                                Salma

Scheflan                              Adam

Schory                                  Noemi

Schwartz                              Alon

Schwartz                              Anat

Schweitzer                          Ariel

Segal                                    Rona

Sevilla                                  Amir

Shachar                               Zohar

Shadur                                 Dan

Shafir Biran                         Yoav

Shahaf                                 Avner

Shaham                               Guy

Shalom Ezer                       Tali

Shamir                                 Yoav

Shavit                                   Naama

Shayo                                   Keren

Shefi                                     Tal

Shehadah                           Salim

Sheizaf                                Noam

Shem Tov                            Aharon

Shihor                                  Gabi

Shimko                                 Dalia

Shlam                                   Shosh

Shles                                    Julie

Shoshani                             Neta

Shtayim                                Roy

Sinai                                     Or

Sivan                                    Daniel

Szylman                               Nataly

szylman                               liora

Tal                                         Ran

Tavori                                   Doron

Tenenbaum                        Daniel

Terkel                                   Amir

Trainin                                  Ofir

Tsabari                                 Doron

Tsicko                                   Eti

Ushpiz                                  Ada

Verses                                  Mani

Wachsmann                       David

Wachsmann                       Dani

Wagner                                Zohar

Wagner Schmidt                Hannah

Wald                                     Dagan

Weingrod                             Adam

Weits                                    Michal

Wiesltier                               Etty

Wind Raz                             Alona

Yaish                                    Sharon

Yarom                                   Tamar

Yaron                                   Tamar

Yavin                                    Maya

Yedaya                                 Keren

Yogev                                   Saar

Yoram                                   Ron

Yudinsky                             Lily

Zaki                                       Iris

Zalmona                              Omri

Zarif                                      David

Zeibak Hadad                     Abeer

Zeltser                                  Anat

Ziegler                                  Itamar

Zilberman                            Yaron

Zlayet                                   Amnon

Zuarets                                 Itsik

Zur                                        Eitan

Zvieli                                     Meital

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