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 their 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 to those overseas who work and study with films. Our requests are as follows:
1. Please give us your endorsement : We will add your names or your organizations’ names to our statement. It will be published through media and social network services.
2. Please write your own statement of boycott : We will deliver your voice to EIDF and Korean society, also it can be the crucial support and guide for us.
Though your stance may vary and your position on the boycott may be different, all ideas and opinions will be gratefully accepted.
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 starting point of the boycott in Korea:
Korean society was rapidly westernized and industrialized after Japanese occupation and US control during the 20th century, and is not accustomed to listening to or sympathizing with the afflictions of other countries. A lot of Korean people may emotionally identify themselves with the Jewish people or citizens of Israel when they first meet with Israeli ‘culture’ even after learning about the situation of the occupation through media. This is where normalization/equalization works easily. In addition, conscientious members of Korean society have never considered applying an academic/cultural boycott until now, which begs the important question of how we should apply the concept of justice in our daily lives.
However, 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 project 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 EDIF’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 an 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