Gaslight boycotts Israeli film festival

Liam Daniel, Channel4

Derry based Gaslight Productions, the driving force behind Channel 4’s drama documentary film ‘SUNDAY’ about the events of Bloody Sunday, is the latest cultural organisation to join the international boycott of Israel. ‘SUNDAY’ was selected for the prestigious Haifa International Film Festival, which opens today.

The film ‘SUNDAY’ tells the story of the events of January 30th, 1972 when British Paratroopers shot dead 13 unarmed civilians, and wounded a further 15, during an illegal civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland. Starring Christopher Eccleston, Ciaran McMenamin, Oliver Ford Davies and Brid Brennan, the two-hour drama was filmed in Derry and Manchester, where the production team recreated Londonderry of the 1970s.

Stephen Gargan of Gaslight said, ‘We are withdrawing our film in support of the boycott and to alert people in Ireland and Britain to the crimes against humanity daily being perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinian people.’

He continued, ‘When SUNDAY was first selected by Haifa, we were faced with a dilemma. Should we screen the film in the knowledge that the parallels between the Bogside in 1972 and Palestine today were strikingly obvious and therefore the film had the real chance of provoking debate within Israel about its government’s actions? Or should we join the call for an international cultural boycott? When we fully realised that, as with the ANC in South Africa and their anti-apartheid boycott, it was Palestinians themselves that were leading the call for the world to boycott Israel, we knew that the just course of action was to support the boycott.’

The letter of withdrawal addressed to the Festival Director states:

‘…of the many lessons that flow from the story of Bloody Sunday, key among them is the ethical political and long-term military folly of governments attempting to impose military solutions on civil and human rights problems.’

‘We take this action in support of the Palestinian people and in solidarity with Palestinian artists and filmmakers. It is also done in solidarity with those within Israel (both Israelis and Arabs) who are speaking out and acting (e.g. refuseniks) against the government’s murderous policies against the Palestinian people.’

‘Clearly the challenge of turning around current [Israeli] government policy in the climate created by a compliant Israeli media puts enormous responsibility on cultural actors/institutions within Israel. We hope however that people will somehow find the courage toact and to do what they can.’

Related Links:

  • SUNDAY - The film
  • The Ireland - Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Haifa 18th International Film Festival