In a move that has surprisedmany, the state-funded Greek Film Centre, which gives Greek film-makers fundsavailable for development, co-production and promotion, has decided to withdrawthe Greek films from the upcoming Haifa International Film Festival (Oct 7-14)in Israel.
The films already invited by
The Soul Kicking withdrawal was apparently due to the director's desireto reserve the film for the competition section of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Nov 17-26). Voulgaris opted to withdraw his film in line with the GFCposition.
In a carefully wordedstatement about the decision, the Greek Film Centre said: "the decision to notparticipate in the
The GFC decision broughtangry reactions from such quarters as the local branch of the Israeli Council, theGreek Embassy in
Such a rectification doesnot however seem capable of mending the situation entirely. The films will nottravel to Haifa and the Greek-Israeli culture relations seem to have received aconsiderable blow, especially now that Greece, as a non-permanent member of theUN Security Council, is trying to play a most welcome foreign policy mediatorpart in the actual conflict, distancing itself from the its resolutely pro-Arabforeign policy of the '80s and early '90s.
Cultural relations betweenthe two countries the have been quite intense and fruitful in the recent past.In the film area, film weeks and tributes have been organized in both countrieswhile Greek and Israeli film have participated and awarded in the
This is the secondfilm-related incident of the kind directly linked to the actual conflict. Lastmonth the Locarno International Film Festival haddecided to drop the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as one of the sponsorsof this year's Leopards of Tomorrow sidebar. A group of filmmakers, includingPalestinian directors Elia Suleiman, Sameh Zoabi, Annemarie Jacir and Lebanese-born Elie Khalife and Myrna Maakaron, whohad films invited to screen in the sidebar's competition or retrospective, haddemanded that the festival withdraw the Israeli ministry from the list ofsponsors.