The new film “The Anti-Semite” won’t be part of the Cannes Film Festival after all.
But no matter where you stand on the film, itself allegedly anti-semitic according to the Anti-Defamation League, the reason behind the ban is cause for artistic alarm.
The Anti-Defamation League on Friday welcomed a decision by the Cannes Film Market to drop from the screening lineup a film from controversial French comic Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, whom the group called anti-semitic.
The film, entitled The Anti-Semite or Yahod Setiz, was produced by the Iranian Documentary and Experimental Film Center. The ADL said it “reportedly pokes fun at the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, where an estimated 1.5 million Jews perished during the Holocaust, and features Dieudonne as a violent and alcoholic character dressed as a Nazi officer for a fancy dress party….”
“Our general conditions ban the presence of all films threatening public order or religious convictions, as well as pornographic films or those inciting violence,” Jerome Paillard, the market’s executive director, told the AFP.
The film wasn’t part of the main festival but rather was slated to be screened at the Marché du Film, or film market, which helps projects get distribution deals.
What should be made of Paillard’s statement about “threatening … religious convictions?” Does that mean movies critiquing religion are now off limits at the Cannes film market? Will films playing in Cannes competition face similar scrutiny? And will Paillard’s statement be applied to movies satirizing or commenting on Islam and Christianity?
And why was “The Anti-Semite” accepted to be shown in the first place? Was anyone on its selection committee offended or aghast at the material on display? And did the people responsible for “The Anti Semite” get to defend their film to Cannes officials?
More questions than answers are raised by the cancellation.