London Cinema Pulls Out of U.K. Jewish Film Fest, Citing Israeli Sponsorship

Gaza Mourners - H 2014

The Tricycle Theatre, which has hosted the event for the past eight years, announced that it wouldn't accept sponsorship from any government agency involved in the current Gaza conflict

LONDON – While the U.K. government has come under criticism for not being more outspoken about Israel’s actions in Gaza, a theater in London has gone so far as to pull out of the upcoming U.K. Jewish Film Festival.

The Tricycle Theatre in north London was due to screen at least 26 films as part of the November event but said Tuesday it would not be taking part, due to the festival’s sponsorship by the Israeli embassy.

In a statement released on its website, the Tricycle’s artistic director, Indhu Rubasingham, explained the stance.

“Given the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict. For that reason, we asked the U.K. Jewish Film Festival to reconsider its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy,” she said.

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Rubasingham added that the theater had offered to cover the costs of the contribution from the embassy, but the festival had chosen to withdraw entirely from the Tricycle, which has hosted the event for the past eight years.

The festival’s chairman, Stephen Margolis, said he was “extremely saddened” by the decision and accused the theater of attempting to politicize the event.

“We have always sought to convey a wide perspective on the conflicts in the Middle East and initiate open dialogue with our audiences and guest speakers, and the Israeli Embassy have always supported us in this,” added the festival’s executive director and founder, Judy Ironside.

Lenny Abrahamson, the Irish director behind the recent Michael Fassbender-starring comedy-drama Frank, tweeted: “As a filmmaker of Jewish background I fully support the Tricycle’s position.”