The Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that it has directed the embassy not to take part in the festive opening ceremony because of the decision to screen Foxtrot on its opening night.
Foxtrot, directed by Shmulik Maoz and starring Lior Ashkenazi, won the Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival last year and was shortlisted for an Academy Award.
But Culture Minister Miri Regev has long spoken out about her dislike for the film, which she says defames the IDF and its values.
FOXTROT Trailer | TIFF 2017. (YouTube/TIFF Trailers)
“The Israeli Embassy in France has been proud to support the Israeli Film Festival in Paris since it was established,” the Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. “The embassy does not generally get involved in artistic decisions over the festival’s organization, and respects the films and artists who are invited to participate.”
However, the ministry said, in December it recommended the festival organizers select an opening night film that “is not controversial and is fitting for a festive opening night.” When the festival chose not to accept the embassy’s suggestion, “the Foreign Ministry instructed the embassy not to appear at the opening ceremony.” The ministry has already reportedly made a financial contribution to the festival that will not be revoked.
Festival organizers did not respond to a request for comment by press time. On its website, it lists as supporters the Foreign Ministry as well as the Paris Film Office, the Israel Film Fund, the Foundation of French Judaism, the Rabinovich Foundation, the Israeli Film Council, El Al, Keren Hayesod and more.
The festival is set to open on March 13 for its 18th year running, and screen dozens of Hebrew-language films.
Regev just returned today from France where she attended the Paris Judo Grand Slam, in which a delegation of Israeli athletes is currently taking part. She also met with Ambassador Aliza Bin-Noun, visited Google France’s office, and took part in discussions about opening a museum in Israel of Sephardi Jewish history, according to the ministry.
The culture minister has repeatedly and insistently criticized Foxtrot, which she maintains she has not and will not see.
When the film missed out on an Oscar nomination last month, Regev said: “A film that portrays the IDF and its soldiers in a false way as murderers and harms the name of the IDF is not worthy of representing the State of Israel.”
Former Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz wrote on Twitter on Sunday that “we don’t need BDS, we have Miri Regev... So what if this is a very important event for our artists? The important thing is politics,” he added sarcastically.