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I, Hypocrite: Ken Loach Exempts Own Films From Call for Israeli Boycott

ken loach
Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Prominent anti-Israel campaigner Ken Loach has been accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed his films have been showing in the Jewish state without his objection since 1993.

Loach has been at the forefront of a vocal movement condemning artists who perform in Israel as supporting an “apartheid regime.” As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, earlier this month the British director wrote a scathing criticism of Radiohead and its decision to play in Israel. In an oped published by the UK’s Independent newspaper he declaimed:

“[Radiohead’s] stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side – the one that supports apartheid. … Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor.”

The editorial then played out on Twitter with the following exchange between Radionhead and the veteran film director:

Now it has been revealed that the Palme d’Or winning I, Daniel Blake is currently showing in Israeli cinemas.

Rebecca O’Brien, Loach’s producer, said the distribution company Wild Bunch, had gone ahead and“accidentally” released the film for distribution in Israel without the knowledge of Loach or his production company Sixteen Films. She told the Guardian:

“We have asked Wild Bunch before not to sell to Israel. But what happened this time – and what has happened before – is that during Cannes, things happen very fast and a junior member of the company went and sold it to Israel in the heat of the moment, forgetting we had asked for it not to be sold there.”

Claims that it is all something of an “accident” for Israel to be screening Loach’s latest film were dismissed as “absurd” by Loach’s long-term Israeli distributor Guy Shani, the head of Shani Films and also the owner of Israel’s Lev cinema chain.

Shani told the Guardian he had known Loach and his producer for years, paying them money “every year”, and Loach had never hesitated to bank the proceeds nor issued instructions for his films to be withheld:

“Since 1993, when we bought Raining Stones, we bought every film apart from two. We never faced any trouble buying and the audience at the Lev cinemas is very open-minded and believes in free speech. So he is he’s punishing the wrong people or trying to.

“I can’t tell you how absurd this is. We’ve been showing his movies for years. I have been paying him money every year. His latest film I, Daniel Blake has been really successful in Israel. So successful that we had some private events with Israeli government institutions where they booked the film to show to employees because of interest in the subject.”

He added: “It is a conundrum that has puzzled me too. It seems that Ken Loach feels himself exempt from the cultural boycott.”  Shani also attacked the notion that he screened Loach’s films without the director’s consent.

“You don’t sell a film to someone a director doesn’t want a film sold to. It is a serious business. You have a list of regions and they approve country by country and then you need to get approval by producer and director,” he said. “And if you have a relationship, a sales agent with a director who is really important to you, of course you don’t sell against their wishes.”

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