Dear Directors and Staff participating in the EBS International Documentary Festival

Koreans in the film industry, individuals, activist groups, and artists have started a boycott action using Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea (https://intifadakorea.wordpress.com/) as a communication channel. Regarding this Boycott, they have delivered their position and made some requests to EIDF, which is attached here below. Hopefully we will expect you to join this boycott action in solidarity.

Official demands including action points:

Koreans in the film industry, individuals, activist groups, and artists have started a boycott action using Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea (hereinafter PPS, https://intifadakorea.wordpress.com/) as a communication channel. They have delivered our position and made the following requests to EBS International Documentary Festival (hereinafter EIDF):

1. Cut off all relations with the Israeli government and its embassy in Korea.

2. Cancel “The Special Session: Israeli Documentary Collection” and its related conference during the festival.

3. Refuse any relations with Israel [government] or any projects under the name of “Brand Israel” until the occupation is ended.

This boycott action has already been publicized through media and press, and some of the EIDF’s partner theaters and participating directors have also joined in this boycott. One of the participating Korean directors announced that he could not withdraw his film because of the official contract, but he expressed his endorsement of the message and aims of this boycott and said that he would wear a boycott message during the whole festival. They met EIDF representatives in an unofficial meeting and are now waiting for the first announcement of their official position.

Now, we are asking for solidarity and support. Our requests are as follows:

1. Please withdraw your participation in EIDF: This will be the strongest boycott action expressing your endorsement.

2. Please send your messages of protest to EIDF: You can individually deliver your objection to EIDF, its conference on Israeli documentary filmmaking systems, its special session on the Israeli collection, and its official relations with the Israeli Embassy in Korea. You can make a public statement expressing your opinion about the situation.

3. Please give your endorsement to us: We will add your name to our statement and it will be published through media and social networking services.

Though your stance may vary and your position on the boycott may be different, all ideas and opinions will be gratefully accepted.

Background

Gaza today

The Israeli government has been intensively bombing Gaza, murdering people and destroying civilian homes for more than a month now. As you know, the Israeli government has been occupying Palestine and systematically committing ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and other violations of international law. As global citizens sharing the same era, we cannot avoid asking ourselves what art and culture is and what its role in life is, especially when it comes to the role of documentaries. It must contemplate and reflect reality and can strongly affect people.

The Israeli films to be introduced during the session neither speak from a pro-Zionist perspective nor offer Israeli government propaganda. Nevertheless, it would be naïve to think that screening such films during the festival does not matter. Israel is trying to hide their real face as an occupying nation and systematically replace it with that of an ordinary member of the international community by representing itself as a benevolent patron of culture and art. Israel supports and hosts many different cultural events attracting international artists, and participates in international events spreading its Brand Israel. This would be acceptable if there were no Palestinians suffering from occupation, bombing attacks, massacres, land confiscation, humiliation, or human hunting by Israeli settlers, and if Israel were not responsible for these things. That’s why those academic and cultural events in which art, culture, and humanity are discussed cannot avoid responsibility if going along with the Israeli occupation.

The background of the film festival:

EBS (Educational Broadcasting System), a public broadcaster in Korea has hosted the EBS International Documentary Festival (EIDF) annually since 2004. This year, EIDF (Aug 25th – Aug 31th) is preparing an Israel documentary collection and a conference on Israel’s documentary filmmaking environment with advanced systems supported by and in collaboration with the Israeli Embassy in Korea which is an official sponsor of the event. The slogan of EIDF is “Hope Lies Within Us” along with the keywords of ‘Hope’ and ‘Coexistence’. All participating films are screened both at theaters and on TV through EBS’ own educational TV channel, and anybody can watch them online without registering (http://www.eidf.org/) after the films have been televised.

The ongoing boycott in Korea:

Upon the news of EIDF’s inconsiderate Israel-sponsored project to screen some Israeli films during the Israeli massacre of Gazan civilians, filmmakers and film scholars along with an activist organization, PPS (https://intifadakorea.wordpress.com/) began to boycott the film festival. PPS has been working on the Palestinian issue in Korea for a long time. PPS happened to get the EIDF screening schedule and found out its projects on Israeli films, and now the first cultural boycott action against Israeli occupation is being organized by some members of the film industry, individuals, activists groups, and other artists, with the help of PPS as our communication channel.

They met EIDF representatives in an unofficial meeting and are waiting for the first announcement of EIDF’s official position this Wednesday (Aug 13th). This is right before the opening of EIDF when they have already published their programs and printed tickets, and these practical matters could be used as an excuse for them to continue with the festival. So we want to gather as many endorsements as possible and pressure EIDF from as many different angles as we can so that they don’t stick to a distorted version of so called reality but take the first step toward just change.

If this boycott action successfully stops EIDF from having relations with Brand Israel, it would offer an example to other international/domestic film festivals in Korea. It would also be the first step toward a academic/cultural boycott against the Israeli occupation of Palestine in Korean society.

 

Banda (documentary director), Heejeong Son (former film festival programmer and researcher), Haoon Kim (publisher), Yaping Dyung (activist), Nyaong (activist), Sara Shin (activist), Kirak (activist), Hyeran Park (translator), Eric (activist), Seejin Baek (activist), Kirin (activist), Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea

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