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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Your tax shekels at work: Government cinema fund finances movie lionizing Bil'in protesters

Every Friday, 'Palestinians' and 'internationals' gather to throw stones at IDF troops in Bil'in to protest construction of the 'security fence' that has been remarkably effective (due to the continued presence of IDF troops in Judea and Samaria) at keeping 'Palestinian' terrorism out of our major cities for the last few years. Now, a movie has been made lionizing the stone throwers. And if you're an Israeli taxpayer, your government - the one that imposes "McCarthyite restrictions of freedom of speech and democracy" - is paying for the movie.
The director, who is from Tel Aviv, has been passionate about film since his youth, and it is what eventually directed him out of the army. “My first film I made when I was 16 years old. It was a video clip of The Beatles, actually.” Though he did spend time in the military, Davidi left when he found he couldn’t work within the organization. “It wasn’t a political decision,” he says. “It was just all of my intuition, my stomach, my body, just resented that system and what it does. I was stupid and curious enough to enroll,” eventually finding a way out, unable to conform to the systemic violence around him. “I couldn’t stand that.”

As an outsider, I am struck by what seems to be the inherent dichotomy of a government that would fund a documentary that so effectively illustrates its flaws while humanizing its perceived enemy. It seems like such a contradiction and I am interested in the dynamic, which strikes me as being counter-intuitive. Davidi takes a moment’s pause. “A state is not one thing,” explains. “It consists of a lot of elements, a lot of institutions. They are not all in sync all the time.”

He then goes on to talk about the Israeli Cinema Fund and how it is helmed by professional filmmakers, “good people,” working within the film industry. “Even though it’s governmental money, the government can’t control the content.” Of his own film managing to benefit from funding and ultimately receive acclaim and such positive international attention, he says, “we couldn’t be ignored [by these institutions], and there were people who supported us because they felt this was a story that has to be told. There’s a lot of freedom there to create. If you let yourself believe that what you’re doing is important, and you believe that films are actually meaningful, you will get the support.”
Forgive me, but while I am all in favor of every nut job having the right to say his piece (after all, that's what freedom of speech is about), I fail to see why I have to pay to fund it or to market it, or arrange for it to be shown in theaters that my taxes subsidize. There's a huge difference.

I'll defend your right to say just about anything (short of yelling "fire" in a crowded building), but I shouldn't have to pay for you to get your message out.

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