Culture Minister Miri Regev has asked the Finance Ministry to examine the financing of the Haifa International Film Festival due to the screening of “subversive” movies.
The Walla news site reported that the two movies to attract the minister’s ire were “Out,” which tells the story of a former IDF soldier who joins a right-wing organization that tries to damage the reputation of human rights activists, and “Acre Dreams” which depicts a love affair between a Jew and an Arab at the time of the British Mandate.
In her letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Regev demanded he “deal with the absurd reality that the activities of supported bodies, which harm the State of Israel and its values and symbols, are not being dealt with.”
She added: “The authority to deal with the matter is in your hands and under your responsibility by law, and unfortunately, despite my repeated requests in the face of the multitude of alleged violations, nothing has been done by you and your office.”
The Haifa Municipality told Walla that the preliminary selection for film competitions in the city is carried out by independent committees, separate to festival management.
Regev is a longtime critic of ostensibly anti-Israel movies produced by local filmmakers.
A member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing Likud party, Regev came under fire last year when she announced an overhaul of the criteria for state funding of Israeli-made films, charging that the various local filmmaking funds to which the state has traditionally allocated funding are systematically discriminating against filmmakers from the settlements, the Arab community and the ultra-Orthodox community.
In response, the Israeli Academy of Film and Television called her comments irresponsible and unfounded.” The academy also accused her of “incitement” for saying that Israeli filmmakers incite the world against Israel.
In 2016 Regev to stormed out of the annual Ophir Awards ceremony, Israel’s version of the Oscars, in protest of the recitation of a poem by a Palestinian poet.
Since becoming culture minister, Regev has become known for her vocal criticism for anything she considers unbecoming of Israel.
Last March, Regev asked the Israeli film funds to provide detailed information about the approval process for films, in an apparent attempt to clamp down on state funding for those movies that are critical of Israel’s policies. Most film funds receive a significant portion of their budgets from the state.