The Short Film Festival and Israel: Hysteria and Solidarity

The director of the Oberhausen Short Film Festival is attacked for a Facebook post about Israel. He gets support from the German film industry.

“Come on everyone! Please!”: Lars Henrik Gass, director of the Oberhausen Short Film Festival Photo: Funke Photo Services/imago

Now the “international film community” also has its scandal regarding Israel. At least if there is one according to the authors open letter on the Internet addressed to the “international film community”.to respond to a statement made by the director of the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Lars Henrik Gass, on Posted on the festival’s Facebook page Oct. 20 has. In it he called for participation in the event of the Central Council of Jews on October 22nd in Berlin, combined with the desire to send a strong signal: “Show the world that the Neukölln Hamas friends and Jew haters are in the minority. Come on everyone! Please!”

The authors of the open letter accuse Gass of using language that serves to “dehumanize and stigmatize Palestinians.” He also misused the festival as a platform to demonize “any person who shows solidarity with Palestinian liberation.” They call on staff to “take the necessary measures to ensure responsible leadership in the future.”

By November 7th, a good 1,800 people had signed. There are a few well-known names, including the French director Yann Gonzalez, his Belgian colleague Fien Troch and the actress Susanne Sachsse.

The drastic choice of words in the letter clearly oversteps the mark. In his call, Gass neither stigmatized Palestinians across the board nor demonized “every person” who shows solidarity with the Palestinians. Rather, he is speaking against a group, “the Neukölln Hamas friends and Jew-haters,” which can be understood with benevolent hermeneutics to mean those people who made themselves known in Neukölln after October 7th by celebrating on the street .

Protest against intimidation campaigns

In response to the letter Gass now has a statement on the Short Film Festival website published in which he rejects the allegations against him and regrets the misunderstandings that have arisen: “My intention was not to stigmatize the Palestinian population across the board, neither in Germany nor beyond.”

In order to correct the situation a little, one appeared on Thursday Open letter from 250 German filmmakers, which speaks out in favor of “solidarity with Israel, with Jews in the world” and “against anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews and the relativization of crimes”. He also mentions the attacks and “relativization or intimidation campaigns” that have recently taken place against filmmakers and “film institutions and their employees”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *