A Palestinian work was screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film as planned on Monday, despite an intense campaign by Israel lobby groups to have it canceled.
Nasri Hajjaj’s Munich: A Palestinian Story was one of four films excerpts of which were screened to industry professionals in collaboration with the Dubai International Film Festival.
Hajjaj told The Electronic Intifada from Cannes that the screening of a 14-minute segment passed without incident and he received a positive response from those present.
As The Electronic Intifada reported last week, France’s main pro-Israel lobby group CRIF had been exerting intense pressure on authorities to ban the film, even enlisting the support of the mayor of Cannes.
CRIF claimed that the film engages in “historical revisionism” about the 1972 raid on the Munich Olympics by the Palestinian group Black September, in which 11 Israeli athletes, a German police officer and five hostage takers died.
But CRIF could not know this since the unfinished documentary had never been publicly screened.
Hajjaj said that CRIF and other critics have made a number of false claims about his film, which they have not seen.
CRIF boss Roger Cukierman even claimed on Twitter that he had been personally assured by Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure that Hajjaj’s film would not be shown.Some Jewish communal media in France have continued to report falsely that CRIF succeeded in getting the screening canceled through pressure on festival management and contacts with government officials.
But the Dubai International Film Festival proceeded with its announced program to screen clips of four works by Arab filmmakers in Cannes.
Hajjaj said that he has been working on the film since 2011, and, as an independent filmmaker, is continuing to seek financial support in order to finish it.
This video clip from Monday’s event shows Hajjaj present along with other featured filmmakers.The clip also shows that the screening was attended by Ken Loach, who won Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or, in 2006.
Loach is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights.
The Marché du Film bills itself as “the most important event of the film industry and the meeting point of more than 11,000 professionals, including 3,200 producers, 2,300 distributors’ rooms, 1,500 sellers and 790 festival organizers.”
Thus the failure of CRIF to block the showing of Hajjaj’s work is a victory against censorship of free speech and art connected with Palestine.