Last night, I got a chance to catch The Bubble at TIFF. It’s an excellent film about a gay Israeli and a gay Palestinian who fall in love in Tel Aviv, which also presents a strong message against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, and it was presented as part of TIFF’s inaugural “City to City” program, which this year spotlights filmmakers from Tel Aviv.
You may have heard of the City to City program, which is the target of a denunciation campaign led by filmmakers and intellectuals who are opposed to the Israeli occupation. They see in City to City a nefarious Israeli propaganda plot to use the festival to rebrand Israel as a modern, progressive country and a land of great artists. Read their declaration here, and TIFF’s response here. This is kind of a queer issue because queer filmmaker John Greyson pulled his film out of the festival in protest of the program.
Before the screening, TIFF Staffer Kate Lawrie read a page-long statement from the director of The Bubble, Eytan Fox, denouncing the occupation and pointing out that many of the film’s Israeli fans are part of the Israeli peace movement. After watching the film, I was even more vexed at the purpose of this denunciation campaign. Putting the spotlight on Israel made it possible for a film like this — which completely supports the anti-occupation effort — to get a pestige slot at a major festival. Even if Israel paid for the screening, it surely can’t be considered propaganda.
By that logic, these people should be protesting China’s recent donation of lion statues to adorn the new Chinatown East gate that opened this week, over that country’s persecution of Tibetans, Falon Gong practitioners, gays, and um, everybody else.
So what else is going on in Toronto? Well, Buddies finally announced who the new artistic director is going to be — so what if it was the worst-kept secret in the theatre community? Brendan Healy takes the reins at Buddies this fall, and you heard it in my story here at Xtra first. More on this in next week’s issue. Until then…