The cast of 'Let There Be Morning', a film directed by Israeli Eran Kolirin, is boycotting the Cannes Film Festival, despite the film being set to premiere there tomorrow. The actors, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, explained in a collective statement on social media that they will be taking a political act of absence in protest of Israel's cultural erasure of the Palestinians.
"We cannot ignore the contradiction of the film's entry into Cannes under the label of an "Israeli film" when Israel continues to carry its decades-long colonial campaign of ethnic cleansing, expulsion, and apartheid against us—the Palestinian people," the cast said in a statement.
The production team further explained the damaging erasure that is done to Palestinians when their work is categorised as "Israeli" in the media.
"Each time the film industry assumes that we and our work fall under the ethno-national label of "Israeli," it further perpetuates an unacceptable reality that imposes on us, Palestinian artists with Israeli citizenship, an identity imposed by Zionist colonization to maintain the ongoing oppression of Palestinians inside historic Palestine; the denial of our language, history and identity," the actors wrote. "[…] Expecting us to stand idly by and accept the label of a state that has sanctioned this latest wave of violence and dispossession not only normalizes apartheid but also continues to permit the denial and whitewashing of violence and crimes inflicted on Palestinians."
'Let There Be Morning' is a film based on a book by journalist, screenwriter and author Sayed Kashua. It tells the story of Sami, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who revisits his hometown with his family to attend his brother's wedding. Following the wedding, Sami, his wife, and his son encounter Israeli soldiers who force them to stay in the village, and Sami is soon imprisoned and besieged in his hometown, with no knowledge of why or for how long.
"The film, which is the fruit of our collective creative labor, is about "The State of Siege" a phrase coined by the revered Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish," the statement reads. "The state of siege is manifested in walls, checkpoints, physical and psychological barriers, and the subordination and violation of Palestinian identity, culture, movement, and basic human rights."
The film stars concluded their explanation by calling on international artistic and cultural institutions to amplify the voices of Palestinian artists and creatives, as they "resist all forms of Israeli colonial oppression against the Palestinian people's right to live, be, and create."
The statement was signed by cast members Alex Bakri, Juna Suleiman, Ehab Elias Salameh, Salim Daw, Izabel Ramadan, Samer Bisharat, Yara Jarrar, Marwan Hamdan, Duraid Liddawi, Areen Saba, Adib Safadi and Sobhi Hosary.
Director Kolirin told Haaretz: "I understand [the reason behind their action], and support their every decision … It hurts me that they won't be there to celebrate their stunning work, but I respect their position."