It's not an international film festival without an international filmmakers' protest, and the first one of the season kicked off today, as a star-studded list put their e-John Hancocks to a statement protesting the Toronto's Fest's "Spotlight on Tel Aviv."
In "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation" posted online today, a dazzling array of festival-hopping luminaries denounced the festival for celebrating "an apartheid regime." Saying that the Tel Aviv celebration plays into a sinister Israeli government cabal to create "Brand Israel" the declaration states:
This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada. Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city's past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.
On the other end of the entertainment world, thousands of citizens of Los Angeles were reportedly struck deaf by a thunderous electronic tone after every agency and production company in Hollywood simultaneously took their phones off the hook to avoid being asked if they supported the Toronto's Film Festival's Spotlight on Tel Aviv.