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Ken Loach accused of exempting himself from cultural boycott of Israel
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Ken Loach accused of exempting himself from cultural boycott of Israel

Ken Loach has been accused of seeing himself as exempt from the cultural boycott of Israel that he promotes, after claims that he allowed his films to be distributed in the country without objection.

Loach has vocally condemned artists who perform in Israel as supporting an “apartheid regime” and his long-standing producer insisted it was down to a “mistake” that the Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake is currently showing in Israeli cinemas.

The issue of Loach’s films being screened in Israel emerged after the director’s searing condemnation of Radiohead’s decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv later this month. Loach accused the band of ignoring Palestinian communities and supporting a system of apartheid by refusing to commit to the cultural boycott of Israel.

Rebecca O’Brien, Loach’s producer, said the distribution company Wild Bunch, had done the deal “accidentally” and without the knowledge of Loach or his production company Sixteen Films.

“We have asked Wild Bunch before not to sell to Israel,” O’Brien said. “But what happened this time – and what has happened before – is that during Cannes, things happen very fast and a junior member of the company went and sold it to Israel in the heat of the moment, forgetting we had asked for it not to be sold there.”

Claims that the distribution rights for Israel were sold “accidentally” were however dismissed as “absurd” by Loach’s long-term Israeli distributor Guy Shani, the head of Shani Films and also the owner of Israel’s Lev cinema chain.

Shani told the Guardian he had known Loach and his producer for years, paying them money “every year”, and had never heard any objections.

“Since 1993, when we bought Raining Stones, we bought every film apart from two. We never faced any trouble buying and the audience at the Lev cinemas is very open-minded and believes in free speech. So he is punishing the wrong people, or trying to.

“I can’t tell you how absurd this is. We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel. So successful that we had some private events with Israeli government institutions where they booked the film to show to employees because of interest in the subject.”

He added: “It is a conundrum that has puzzled me too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”

 Click here to read the full article in The Guardian

Monday, July 17, 2017
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