Friday, July 24, 2009

Melbourne International Film Festival Gets Loach-ed!

Fiercely political Brit filmmaker Ken Loach has withdrawn his film Looking for Eric from this year's Melbourne International Film Festival in protest over Israeli funding. The Wind That Shakes the Barley director has long been an outspoken opponent against Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and its actions in Gaza, and back in May, had already pressured the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return a 300-pound grant from the Israeli Embassy - a demand which the festival bowed to. However, MIFF's executive director Richard Moore said in a statement that he would not bow to "blackmail", and added "MIFF understands that that this issue is a particularly emotional one for people, but we will not participate in a boycott against the state of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult long-standing historical disputes" (read more here).

I generally like Loach's work, even if he tends towards the didactic side on occasion, and this situation is rather unfortunate - but I admire Moore's steadfast stance in maintaining his festival's integrity. Here's a trailer for Looking for Eric, which I missed at NZFF (it'll no doubt find its way to the Rialto in the next few months):

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