Norwegian fest boycotts Israeli film on kids with disabilities
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Norwegian fest boycotts Israeli film on kids with disabilities

Organizers tell director they support cultural and academic ban on Jewish state, will only show movies about occupation

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

A still from the Israeli documentary 'The Other Dreamers' (YouTube screenshot)
A still from the Israeli documentary 'The Other Dreamers' (YouTube screenshot)

A Norwegian film festival recently rejected an Israeli documentary on children with disabilities, telling its director that it supports the boycott on the Jewish state and will not screen Israeli movies unless they deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Roy Zafrani, the director of “The Other Dreamers,” was turned down by organizers in a decision he termed “absurd,” the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

“I’m sorry but we can’t show this film,” a letter from the organizers to Zafrani said. “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 denounced the decision while declining to name the film festival in question.

“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 Other Dreamers” (2013), which follows four Israeli kids with disabilities as they pursue their dreams, has been screened at festivals in the United States, Spain, Italy, Australia and India.

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