Foreign ministry softens boycott of Israeli film fest in Paris
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Foreign ministry softens boycott of Israeli film fest in Paris

Cultural attaché, not ambassador, to attend event after organizers rebuff efforts to nix screening of critically-acclaimed movie 'Foxtrot'

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An Israeli soldier does a mock dance with his rifle in “Foxtrot.” (Sony Pictures Classics)
An Israeli soldier does a mock dance with his rifle in “Foxtrot.” (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Israeli embassy in France will have a limited presence at the upcoming Israeli Film Festival in Paris, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, partially walking back a threatened boycott of the event over the screening of a contentious, critically-acclaimed Israeli movie.

In a statement, the ministry said the embassy’s cultural attache would attend the opening ceremony on March 16, but would not deliver a speech. Israel’s ambassador to France, Aliza Ben-Nun, will not attend the festival, it said.

Samuel Maoz’s drama “Foxtrot” centers on parents’ grief for their fallen son, and includes a scene in which IDF soldiers cover up the murder of four Arabs.

Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has admitted to never having seen it, has repeatedly lambasted the film, saying it “shows Israeli army soldiers in a deceptive manner as murderers and harms the good name of the Israel Defense Forces.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev reveals the Logo for the 70th Anniversary celebrations of Israel’s Independence, during a press conference at the Yad LeShirion site in Latrun, January 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Last month, the embassy announced it was boycotting the festival after organizers declined Ben-Nun’s request to screen a different, less controversial film, the Walla news site reported.

One of the festival’s directors, Helen Schumann, told Walla that she had also been approached by other Israeli diplomats asking the film be pulled because Regev “didn’t like it.”

“Foxtrot” won the Ophir, Israel’s top film prize. It was also among the movies submitted for the best foreign-language Oscar, but failed to make the final five nominee list.

Regev, a hardliner from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, has repeatedly clashed with the largely left-leaning artistic community.

They have accused her of seeking to muzzle free speech, including by promoting a bill to cut subsidies to cultural institutions deemed not “loyal” to the state.

Regev was disinvited to September’s Ophir Awards, where “Foxtrot” won the best picture prize.

Instead, Regev appeared live on her Facebook page to criticize the movie and members of Israel’s Film and Television Academy.

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