I've been thinking about what I can do to make some kind of protest against this. Because of it being a film-festival I'm thinking it could be pretty smart to use one of those large vans with the advertising hoardings on the side - with video of the Gaza war crimes being projected onto it. Parked up outside the venues as people are queuing for entry it could cause a fair bit of commotion.
All I need is a driver, a van, a projector and a team of hardened shouters!
EDINBURGH FILM FESTIVAL DECIDES TO RETURN ISRAELI SPONSORSHIP MONEY John Wight
Ginnie Atkinson, Managing Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has confirmed that EIFF will not be taking Israeli Embassy money to help fund the 2009 film festival. Atkinson was unwilling to admit EIFF was influenced by Scottish PSC, or by the protest emails the EIFF has received since Tuesday, and said that the decision was “a natural conclusion to having realised that we had made a mistake in the first place”.
Their decision follows the Scottish PSC call earlier today for a protest outside the Filmhouse in Edinburgh where the EIFF is based. Mention of the Israeli Embassy on the EIFF’s ‘Honour Board’ was removed after Atkinson and the EIFF admitted that “it was a mistake to accept the £300 from the Israeli Embassy”.
Though I'm a bit disappointed that my techno-protest plan has been scuppered!
(ok, so it was only £300, but it's the principle after all...)
After an unexpected detour into comedy, the old Ken Loach is back with an angry look at Iraq Late Palme d'Or contender shines light on murky world of security contractors
Mark Brown in Cannes
19 May 2010
Cannes welcomed back one of its favoured sons today, and it was Ken Loach as he is best known and loved: gritty, uncompromising and angry. Very, very angry. The 73-year-old director was a last-minute addition to the competition for this year's Palme d'Or with his film Route Irish, named after the hazardous road that links the green zone in Baghdad to the airport.
Loach told the Guardian that he and regular collaborator Paul Laverty had been trying to find a way of addressing Iraq for some time. "Iraq, to use the old cliche, was the elephant in our sitting room for a long time," said Loach. "The actual event, the war in Iraq, was so appalling that it takes a long time to see it in perspective." He admits that anger was a motivating force – "anger on behalf of the people who are not in a position to express it" – and he is still angry about a lot of things, not least the UK's recent election.
"I think we've got the real British ruling class back in power," he said. "Very rich white men with old money. This is the real face of the ruling class – very nuanced, very urbane, very smooth, and we shall see how very ruthless they are. The rightwing victory is going to be sad for a lot of people but one of the saddest aspects of it all, for me, is that some of the New Labourites weren't cleared out. It looks like the Labour party is going to remain in the grip of the rightwing and that's the worst news of all.
"Most of them are war criminals. Those of them who were in the cabinet during the Iraq war are war criminals with collective responsibility for the Iraq war. David Miliband shouldn't be in office, he should be in prison."
Loach surprised some last year by releasing a cheerful comedy, Looking for Eric. Route Irish is not a comedy. It is about the effect of war, the effect of guilt and the privatisation of war. The film tells the story of two best friends, soldiers Fergus and Frankie (played by Mark Womack and the comedian John Bishop), who – lured by £10,000 a month tax-free – become private security contractors. After Frankie's death in Iraq, Fergus becomes increasingly convinced that it was more than just "wrong time, wrong place" and sets out to find the truth.
More than anything, the film shines a light on the murky world of private contracting firms operating in Iraq and the controversial Order 17, which puts them above Iraqi law. It could easily be described as a conspiracy thriller, a tag that Loach doesn't entirely like: "I'm always wary of the word thriller, because it suggests a certain kind of film-making and this film isn't that. But there is a puzzle to unwrap. And in unwrapping the puzzle I hope it gets to the heart of what is happening."
There are lots of disturbing scenes in the film, not least a waterboarding sequence set in Liverpool. It will shock audiences, but Loach said: "My only fear is that we didn't make it tough enough. This is something that is sanctioned by the US government and tacitly supported by the UK government. One prisoner apparently was waterboarded nearly 200 times. This is what we and our allies do. The only human response is anger and disgust and sometimes you have to show it. You can't be too refined about it."
The film reunites the director with cinematographer Chris Menges, who began his career with Loach, making films such as Poor Cow and Kes. Menges went on to make The Killing Fields, winning an Oscar, and The Reader. "I thought it would be nice to work together before we both pack it in. We've known each other 44 years," said Loach.
Because the film was such a late entrant, offered and accepted well past the deadline, arrangements in Cannes have been somewhat chaotic. It was given its first screening this morning in the festival's smallest screening room, it gets its red-carpet premiere today, and cast and crew members will then meet the press on Friday.
"We didn't intend to come," said Loach, who won the Palme d'Or with The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2007. "We've been quite a lot and I was aware of not wanting to wear out the welcome. We didn't expect to finish until after Cannes." Because they were ahead of schedule, the film's French co-producers asked them to reconsider, and Loach said it was on a rare day when he thought the film was quite good. "Most of the time you think, 'this is dreadful, I've made a complete mess of this'."
Unusually, three of Britain's most respected directors, the holy Trinity, have been on the Croisette this year: Loach, Mike Leigh, in competition with Another Year, and Stephen Frears, out of competition with Tamara Drewe. It is also a year without a single woman chosen for the main competition.
No head-and-shoulders front runner has yet emerged for the top prize, although Leigh has been the favourite of many critics. Also in contention is the French director Xavier Beauvois with Of Men and Gods, which tells the true story of French Trappist monks who were killed in Algeria in 1996 after being kidnapped by a fundamental Muslim terror cell.
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