PARIS (JTA) — A French group of movie theaters temporarily canceled screenings of an Israeli film in response to Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla.
Utopia cinema houses wanted to “show its reprobation in a more visible manner” in response to Israel’s interception May 31 of a flotilla aimed at breaking the Gaza blockade in which nine passengers were killed, said a statement on the company’s website.
So the group “decided to deprogram the film, ‘Five Hours from Paris,’ supported by the Israel Film Fund and Isratim,” directed by Leon Prudovsky, said the statement.
“We have nothing against this nice little film that we are committed to program with the first sign of a removal of the Israeli blockade of Gaza,” added the statement published June 5. The movie was scheduled to be screened beginning June 23.
Since the announcement, the French media and public have widely criticized the group’s decision.
The French daily Le Monde’s front page editorial on Thursday called the group’s decision “dangerous,” and lumped it with other cases of artists choosing to boycott Israel. It also said that “The assault of the flotilla is indefensible.”
Utopia’s co-founder, Michel Malacarnet, told JTA on Thursday that the Israeli film would be screened this summer in Utopia theaters with several other Israeli movies, and their directors invited for a debate.
Malacarnet said it was common for Utopia to postpone film screenings for various reasons, though this time the decision was politically based. He said the decision to have a debate around the film resulted from the intense media and public reaction to temporarily canceling the film.
“We have nothing against this film, nor against Israeli cinema," Utopia co-founder Anne-Marie Faucon told the French news agency AFP. "There’s no reason to boycott it for life.”