Monday, September 14, 2009

TIFF Protest Update


Since all the working journalists in this city seem to be up to their eyes at the Toronto International Film Festival covering where George Clooney was partying, who that woman with Colin Farrell was and if you could really see Jennifer Connolly’s nipples, the actual research into slightly more important show biz news has fallen to some of us “untrustworthy” scribes on the internet.

Last week, Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, writer Naomi Klein, director Ken Loach and stars like Jane Fonda and Danny Glover (among others) combined their industry profiles to condemn the celebration of films profiling Tel Aviv in this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

All the details you could want are located a short distance down this page.

Since that protest launched, most of the press coverage has been about who’s on which side. Kind of a Map of the Stars’ Social Issues and grasp of International Affairs, offering, at the same time, one more opportunity to announce who might be spotted shopping Bloor Street’s so-called “Mink Mile”.

Ohmigawd, Megan Fox is wearing a Roots jacket! Does that mean she’s not “dumb as a rock” or does it prove it?”

As a result, what hasn’t been dug into is whether this is really a bunch of well-intentioned celebrities expressing their collective social conscience or an orchestrated campaign run by somebody with a different agenda.

Turns out, it’s the latter…

Late last week, the organizers of the protest issued a press release celebrating some of the new names that had been added to their list of supporters. It provided a phone number for journalists to contact for further information. It was the same press contact phone number that had been appended to John Greyson’s original “open letter” to the Festival withdrawing his film “Covered”.

If you call that number, you get a very friendly lady eager to answer all your questions except where her office is located. But if you Google the number, you discover it belongs to Palestine House, an education and community service organization for Palestinians partially funded by the Canadian government.

In the past year, the organization’s same contact phone number has appeared on press releases supporting Apartheid Week at the University of Toronto, organizing anti-Israel demonstrations in Ottawa and protesting the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ancient Hebrew texts apparently “looted” from the Palestinian people).

So we’ve got a few interesting questions local journalists could be asking, like…

Why is the government funding an organization to attack arts events the government is also funding?

Is this protest against “the Israeli propaganda” machine really just an arm of the propaganda machine of The Palestinian Authority?

Are the artists involved aware of that connection or simply “useful idiots” in this whole affair? 

Is anybody willing to get their head out of the bean dip and cleavage to practice any real journalism?

Or --- is the free bar and access past the velvet rope all that really matters this week….

No comments: