opinion column uk

UK Jewish Film Festival filmmakers had no part in war

The Tricycle Theatre's refusal to accept the UK Jewish Film Festival due to its funding sources from the Israeli embassy has dealt a huge blow to filmmakers that have nothing to do with the current Gaza conflict.

The regrettable decision by the Tricycle Theatre has emphasized a need for cultural organizations to evaluate very carefully the implications of such decisions.

Following on from the statements issued by both camps, it would seem that despite this huge setback the festival will still continue at another venue, however, the question remains whether this decision will isolate Jewish communities in the UK, which is something that shouldn't be happening.

The huge loss of life in the Gaza-Israel conflict has created big divisions, but it's difficult to see how filmmakers 'armed' with cameras should be collectively punished because of the source of revenue they receive. Both the Tricycle Theatre and The UK Jewish Film Festival play an important role in bringing together creative people from all backgrounds. The UK Jewish Film Festival also shows films that portray these issues, which invites debate, and brings communities together to talk about what's happening. Why end this?

There are of course strong feelings in both communities about what's happened but the minute people start using cultural events to make a statement, it really changes the mood and the relationship of entire communities. Those decisions have huge repercussions, and not just in the UK.

Filmmaking is an art form, not a weapon. It's a collective effort, and people need to be able to come together to share these stories. Even if there was no intention by the Tricycle Theatre to shun the festival, the message will ultimately be interpreted negatively and how will this help resolve the conflict? It will only create more unnecessary division which does the exact opposite of what a cultural institution is supposed to do.

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