Israeli gay film protested in San Francisco
San Francisco's international lesbian and gay film festival was interrupted by protesters on Saturday night at the screening of an Israeli film depicting a love affair between two members of that country's armed forces. As credits rolled at the end of the Castro Theater screening of the film, Yossi & Jagger, several people who identified themselves as members of a group called QUIT!--Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism--went up onto the stage uninvited to unfurl protest signs.
The following account of the incident was described in an E-mail newsletter from Frameline, the nonprofit that sponsors the festival:
"While protesters held two banners that read '17,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli forces in Lebanon' and 'No animals [were] harmed by the making of this film,' organization representatives handed out fliers pushing their cause. As the house lights came up, Castro house managers asked the banner-holders to leave the stage while people in the theater both booed and cheered (and hurled a few epithets).
"Yossi Amrani, the San Francisco-based Israeli consul general, took the stage and requested those who left upset to return to rejoin the festival program in the spirit of understanding and tolerance. He described the film as 'not about politics, it is about love,' to which the audience responded with
applause. When a protester spoke out and another audience member shouted her down, Amrani asked the audience member to express tolerance of what the protesters have to say.
"Nearly the entire audience of this sold-out film remained for the fascinating and politically charged Q&A session [with the film's producer, Gil Uchovsky, which the protest had delayed]. Finally, Uchovsky took the stage and discussed the film's impact. Astonishingly, when the script was run by the Israeli military for approval, they had no objections to the film's gay content. Instead, they were more concerned that, in the original script, a commander sleeps with a person of lower rank. So that aspect was changed to appease their needs.
"Outside the theater, QUIT! members handed out fliers questioning Frameline's intent in programming the film, and encouraging festivalgoers to check out two programs that represent views sympathetic to QUIT!'s mission: the Algerian film Path to Love (Monday, June 16) and Queer Documentary in Wartime: A New View of the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis (Tuesday, June 17), a presentation by acclaimed documentarian Ellen Flanders."
The film Yossi & Jagger, which won top honors in an Israeli film awards competition and also at the 2003 TriBeCa Film Festival in New York City, will be released theatrically in the United States by Strand Releasing later this year.