Norwegian Film Festival Boycotts Israeli Film about Kids with Disabilities

Screenshot from YouTube
August 12, 2015

A Norwegian film festival has refused to show an Israeli-made film about children with disabilities, and says it will show Israeli films only if they deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a pro-Palestinian manner.

According to the Times of Israel, the organizers of the festival would not show the film because doing so would violate a cultural and academic ban on Israel.

In a letter of rejection to Roy Zafrani, director of The Other Dreamers, the organizers wrote: "We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel so unless the films are about the illegal occupation, or deals with the occupation or the blockade of Gaza, or otherwise about the discrimination of Palestinians, we can’t show them."

Zafrani told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily that the organizers’ decision was "absurd."

The Times of Israel reports:

"Film is meant to bring people together, not drive them apart," he told the paper. "I see films from all over the world, from Syria to Iran, and learn about the people beyond their leadership. No one would boycott an Iranian director because of what his government does, so if he doesn’t get that sort of reception, neither should I."

Zafrani maintained that the film received no funding from the Israeli government.

"It’s absurd. I’m not a political man. I am not responsible for my government’s actions," he said. "This is an entirely independent film, with zero funding from Israeli public grants, so the boycott cannot even be justified by saying that it was made with government support."

"This boycott is simply because it’s a film that shows a different, nice side of Israel," he added."

The film’s synopsis on YouTube captures Zafrani’s intent. The page states, "We believe it’s very important that children and adults will watch this film and get into the world of disabled people. After 5 minutes of watching The Other Dreamers, you will no longer notice their wheelchairs nor disabilities. You will accept them."

The Other Dreamers has been shown at festivals in Russia, Italy, England, and the United States.

Published under: Israel