The Moore/Loach MIFF funding controversy

August 12, 2009

An ad we ran in Beat…

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And (just some of…) the debate at Facebook…

Liam Firmager
Liam Firmager

you may as well ban every film from every festival from every nation if you’re going to take issue with the policies of their government.
It defeats the purpose of free speech and articulating different apolitical viewpoints by banning or blacklisting individuals work or festivals themselves simply because their respective governments may or may not have partially financed it. Should Leni Reifenstal’s work be blacklisted because the Third Reich financed her work?Should AFI backed films be blacklisted by international festivals because of our governments stand on various issues?The focus should be on the film itself. I can’t agree with you on this one Richard…but I defend your right to say it.

Richard Wolstencroft

No Liam. I am not trying to ban anything, of course. I am trying to say “No” to funding from Governments like Israel, Iran and China for film festivals, that is all. I support playing films from all countries including Israel or wherever. Its a question of financial support. MIFF should have just offered to pay the 2 to 5 grand? You can get away with funding by states committing current human rights abuses, I suppose. But, as a rule I’m against it according to my own ethics. If called on it, like MIFF was by Loach, why not drop the financial support? That’s the point…Never drop a film, no matter what someone says. I supported the Chinese critical doco 10 Conditions of Love on the Xinjiang district. That was a good MIFF call. The Israel funding is not…


Liam Firmager
Liam Firmager

I respect your personal opinion..I just don’t think you should align yourself to someone like Loach who is an agenda driven hate-filled champagne socialist who is very a la carte in his criticisms of ‘human rights abusers’. I believe it’s all about the ART not the artist or the origins of funding to allow that art to flourish. It’s my opinion festivals should be apolitical…springboards for ideas and fresh viewpoints, and not the arbiters of cultural dialogue. But ..as the saying goes, it’s your ball.. 🙂

Dave de Vries
Dave de Vries

Hi Liam. Mate you sem to be going off on a tangent. It might be worth re-reading Richard’s ad. As I read it, all Richard is saying is that MUFF doesn’t accept sponsorship from states that commit human rites abuses. Seems like a reasonable position to me.
Richard Wolstencroft
Richard WolstencroftI agree they should be apolitical in the funding department and not receive funds from Governments like Israel, China, etc… hence my point. Your point is they should be politicized by accepting the funding and hence give Loach something to protest…screw your head on, Doofus….
Liam Firmager
Im not going off on a tangent..simply drawing Loach’s position into the debate as it was his protest which triggered it.
I don’t particularly care where the funding comes from..festivals should be APOLITICAL in their subject matter and not arbiters of cultural dialogue which Loach is demanding MIFF become.
Dave de Vries
Dave de Vries

Are you saying it’s okay to accept sponsorship from anyone?
Oh , and yes… covert to Judasim.
Liam Firmager
Liam Firmager

Why is it ‘obvious’ ? I think you either need to say no to ALL state sponsored funding ( an admirable posture)….or you allow it all without prejudice. Drawing distinctions based on your personal perception of ‘human rights abuse’ ( and lets be honest…it’s an opinion and not a fact) means you are politicizing the issue and taking the role as an arbiter.
Some accuse Australia of human rights abuses against our indigenous population and also refugees…does that justify the blacklisting of AFI funded projects?
I just don’t think it’s as black and white as your posture suggests . Your tone suggests you are very much inclined to accept Israel as state sponsored human rights abuser.
I ask you again…if the film in question was funded( or semi-funded) by the USA, Australia, Colombia, Nepal…etc.etc…would you maintain the same posture? A Hypothetical..but a valid one.
Ronnit Sternfein
Ronnit Sternfein

You should convert….you sound like you need a good circumcision ;-p
Richard Wolstencroft

Its not film funding for movies Liam, its Festival funding. A big difference. I don’t care who funded movies, so Leni and the Nazis are tres cool. A festival Director can and should make these decisions as to who funds a festival, based on a case by case basis, and the current world situation. Its part of their job to politicize these issues when conflicts get out of hand (ala Israel and the recent Gaza incursion and the use of phosphorus weapons, etc.) and a stand of solidarity sometimes needs to be made (ala Loach). I think Moore called it wrong, and I stated why… end of story. MUFF likes to criticize MIFF, as we have in the past on many, many different issues. I appreciate your position, but just think you are wrong. Yes, crew, I’d like to convert, how do I go about it? Shalom!

Richard Wolstencroft
Richard Wolstencroft

Already am Ronnit…yes u heard it here first… I’m secretly Jewish . Shh don’t tell anyone…
Liam Firmager
Liam Firmager

So what you are stating is the festival director bases his/her funding criteria acceptance on personal political opinion. Which is NO different to Moore’s current posture.
I can’t see what the problem is as you’re both excercising your rights as festival directors to accept funding based on individual opinion of issues. And in the mean time…film makers are used as political pawns.. this is what sits uncomfortable with me. Now if you were taking a swipe at Miff for their incestuous unimaginative programming then I’d be with you 110% 🙂 I don’t believe I’m wrong…I’m simply seeking clarification.
Ronnit Sternfein
Ronnit Sternfein

pffffft….ill believe it when i see it 😉
Richard Wolstencroft
Richard Wolstencroft

I do support Israel in general and just find some actions and the current Israeli direction a bit over the top…i.e recent Gaza incursion.
Jacinta Palmer
Jacinta Palmer

Rich I’m afraid I’m edging towards Liam’s side of the debate.

It seems what you’re essentially saying is that a festival director should only accept funding from countries which that festival director personally believes are not guilty of human rights abuses. It’s a completely subjective issue based on personal opinion, and as Liam said, one could easily view our country as being guilty of human rights abuses and would thus be obliged to refuse any Oz government funding. You’ve applied for Oz funding in the past, haven’t you?

Jacinta Palmer
Jacinta Palmer

Having said that, I don’t agree with MIFF’s decision to accept Israeli money. Aside from the human rights abuse issue, accepting money from an outside government raises questionable issues regarding the involvement and/or control this funding gives to that outside government over the running or programming of the festival.

All art is political, absolutely, but it doesn’t mean there are lines that perhaps shouldn’t be crossed.

Dave de Vries
Dave de Vries

You’re right, Jacinta. It’s completely subjective. But then again, all values of principle are. Richard is taking ownership of his beliefs about the human rights records of China and Israel, and acting accordingly. I see no problem with that. And if he chooses to add others to that list down the line, that sits fine with me too. As we judge is how we are judged. But of itself, there’s nothing wrong with acting on subjective personal opinion. As artists, that’s what we do.
Richard Wolstencroft

Thank you Dave, I share your above sentiments. Yes, it is just about getting Israeli financial support for a foreign Film Festival. Israel should obviously fund their own film festivals, and good luck to them. I just feel this way. I run MUFF, we debate MIFF, so I commented. Your welcome to disagree. I do things like this to spark exactly the kind of debate you see here. I find it healthy. I’m not saying you have to agree with me. Disagreement can breed healthy results as long as a mutual respect is shown. But on a lighter note, if there is any Mossad agents out there reading this, a sufficiently generous bribe or an all expenses paid trip to the Holy lands, could well change my mind…hehe again…

3 Responses to “The Moore/Loach MIFF funding controversy”

  1. Jurguens said

    Ken Loach had every right to protest. You may agree or disagree with it. Moore had every right to accept Israeli money.

    Personally, I believe Israel to be the biggest sponsor of state terrorism in the world together with the USA, so of course, I would never have received money from Israel. In fact, I would not receive any money from any bloody government.

    Moore did the right thing defending the docu against all Chinese pressures, but I do find his focus on Israeli movies cuestionable.

  2. Jurguens said

    Fuck, that’s my spanish coming in… I meant questionable

  3. Let’s put things in perspective. The so-called Israeli funding was merely the payment of travel costs for the director of $9.99 to attend the festival. MIFF is entitled to accept that sort of funding from Israel, China, Iran, USA or anywhere.

    Personally, I find Loach’s motives questionable and his interest in human rights highly selective. Does he accept any UK government funding? Because, as we all know, Britain is actively involved in war crimes. It gets ludicrous, methinks.

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