Hollywood stars call for Gaza ceasefire in anti-Israel protest at Sundance

Melissa Barrera and Indya Moore join pro-Palestinian activists, LGBT militant group outside indie film festival in Utah; chants of ‘From the river to the sea’ heard

Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters gather in Park City, Utah, to hold a rally at the annual Sundance Film Festival. 
(Screenshot from X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters gather in Park City, Utah, to hold a rally at the annual Sundance Film Festival. (Screenshot from X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters, including several film and TV stars, gathered in near-freezing temperatures at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Sunday to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, local media reported.

The protest, organized by the Palestinian Solidarity Association of Utah, which enlisted the protection of Armed Queers Salt Lake City, geared its messaging toward artists and creatives, as well as patrons of the arts. There were no reports of violence at the event.

“The Palestinian people continue to use art as a form of resistance against their occupation by Israel,” protest organizers wrote in a January 12 Instagram post. “From paintings and graffiti on the apartheid wall dividing the occupied territories, to songs and poems using pens as their weapons, Palestinians have shown us what hope and steadfastness looks like.”

Sunday’s protest was among a myriad of similar events that have taken place across the globe in the last three months, rallying support for Gaza and calling for an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group. While it was significantly smaller than other protests, which can draw tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in major cities, the Park City rally garnered attention for being attached to the Sundance Film Festival.

Stars Melissa Barrera and Indya Moore, who were in Park City to attend the premieres of their new films — “Ponyboi” and “Your Monster,” respectively — joined the protests, according to media reports.

Both Barrera and Moore have been vocal on social media about their support for the Palestinian cause since October 7, when thousands of Hamas terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Indya Moore, a cast member in “Ponyboi,” poses at the premiere of the film at The Library Theatre during the Sundance Film Festival, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Barrera, star of the fifth and sixth installments of the “Scream” franchise, was cut from the cast of the seventh in November by the producers, who said they had “zero tolerance for antisemitism and incitement to hatred.”

Barrera had denounced what she called “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza.

Moore, known primarily for playing the role of Angel Evangelista in the FX television series “Pose,” addressed the crowd at Sundance. “This is about life. That’s why I’m here. I’m trans, right? It’s about love,” she said, in a video clip captured by the Hollywood Reporter. “Free Palestine is about equality for everybody.”

Utah Highway Patrol officers were present at the protest, as were members of Armed Queers Salt Lake City. The latter group, which describes itself as “an explicitly socialist and radical Queer organization dedicated to the militant and armed defense of LGBTQ people nationwide,” was in attendance specifically to protect the pro-Palestinian activists.

Both the Sundance Institute, which organizes the annual festival, and the Park City Police Department had advance warning of the action, the LA Times reported.

There were a handful of pro-Israel counter-protesters present, according to the LA Times. They chanted “Bring them home” against the larger crowd’s “From the river to the sea.”

“Bring them home” is a slogan that has been adopted by pro-Israel activists worldwide to call for an immediate and unconditional release of the hostages taken by Hamas. There are currently 132 hostages remaining in captivity in Gaza. In Israel, the phrase is also used by groups demonstrating against the current Netanyahu-led government, who claim that their elected officials are not putting enough effort into securing the hostages’ safe return.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” or its shortened form, “From the river to the sea,” refers to the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Since the 1960s, “From the river to the sea” has been used by Palestinian nationalist movements such as the Palestine Liberation Organization and, later, the Hamas terror group.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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