JERUSALEM—The Israeli foreign ministry said Sunday that Israeli diplomats in France would boycott the ceremonial opening of the Israeli Film Festival in Paris in May, after festival organizers rejected a ministry “suggestion” not to feature the film Foxtrot to open the festival.
The film, directed by Samuel Maoz and starring Israeli actors Lior Ashkenazi and Sarah Adler, is the story of a Tel Aviv couple who receive news that their son, an IDF soldier, has been killed in the line of duty.
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev has been a strident critic of the film due to its portrayal of Israeli soldiers who conspire to cover up the murder of four Arab youths. The film won the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival last September, prompting a furious condemnation from Regev, who has said the story “slanders” IDF soldiers.
Announcing the boycott, the ministry said in a statement that while Israel has supported the Paris festival since it was founded 18 years ago, they added that the current choice forced a change in policy.
“The (Ministry) does not normally become involved in the festival administration’s artistic decisions, and we respect the Israeli movies and artists who have been invited to take part in the festival. At the same time, last December the embassy staff met with festival organizers, as they have in the past, to talk about non-controversial Israeli movies that would be appropriate for the festive opening… for their own reasons, they chose not to accept our recommendation. So the foreign ministry has instructed the embassy not to take part in the opening ceremony,” the statement said.
Responding to the controversy, Regev told the Haaretz Hebrew-language daily that there is “no place for the State of Israel to support a festival that gives a platform to spread slander and lies about IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians.”