TLVFest Statement

Dear filmmakers, 

Over the years TLVFest has shown solidarity with the struggle for rights, freedom and justice of Palestinian queers, and Palestinians in general. We have shown numerous films on this issue. Palestinian queers were, are and will be part of the juries, and some of them were part of the festival team, and will be in the future.

Let me also state very clearly that TLVFest is not “pinkwashing” anything. On the contrary. The very existence of TLVFest stands against the homophobic, racist and misogynistic parts of the parliament (Knesset) of Israel, and we say that openly and proudly. We will also continue to collaborate with queer Palestinian filmmakers who are interested in coexisting peacefully and building a much more tolerant and inclusive Middle East, both for Israelis and Palestinians.

You have been approached by movements that instead of being transparent, choose to spread selective analysis of hand-picked facts out of context, if not out-right lies, and try to hurt a festival which stands firm against violence, corruption, and intolerance, and fights for the freedom of speech and human & civil rights of the LGBTQI+ community and of other disenfranchised minorities living in Israel. While we do understand their most basic motives, these movements have chosen the wrong target, and instead of promoting the Palestinian cause, they try to silence the ones who fight for freedom of speech. We are here to continue spreading LGBTQI+ culture and cinema across the country, introduce tolerance & pluralism, provoke thought, bring down walls, and build bridges between different cultures.

TLVFest was, and always will be for Palestinian human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQI+ rights and freedom of speech. The festival will never serve as a diversion from the human rights violations being committed by the state of Israel. On the contrary, we show every LGBTQI+ movie that deals with this issue, and operate mostly in Tel Aviv Cinematheque, which holds regularly a human rights festival and a Nakba themed film festival (Nakba – The 1948 Palestinian exodus, literally “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “cataclysm”) .

For ourselves we can say for example, that this year, 2021, we open the festival at Ennis Jaffa’s Stage run by a Palestinian activist. The opening night hosts are a Palestinian gay woman the actress and filmmaker, Samira Saraya. She will also take part in a special panel session with awards winner filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin.
At the festival we’ll present 2 new Palestinian short movies: “Mlukhiye” and “The 50th Psalm”.

We never teamed with anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations. We are fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights.

TLVFest will always strive to end any apartheid system and military occupation that imprisons children, demolishes homes, and holds people under siege, and to echo aloud the voices of the voiceless and oppressed.

TLVFest is a private initiative and it is not part of the Israeli government. We exist in spite of past attempts from the government to shut us down. We struggle every year to get the funds that are entitled to us by law as a cultural event in Israel. We fight against discrimination and homophobia.

Anyone who tries to shut down the festival, fights against the hope for freedom, justice, equality and peace.

It is more important than ever that the international community continues to support dissenting voices in Israel in favor of human rights and equality. In this case, boycotting may not be a violent act per se, but it will inflame violent voices and unfortunately will not put pressure on Israel’s government to end its ongoing human rights violations. On the contrary, it will strengthen the right-wing homophobic & anti-Palestinian voices in Israel, while hurting those who try to make a change despite all odds.

Yair Hochner,
Festival Director


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