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Film-makers withdraw from Amsterdam documentary festival over Mideast conflict

November 14, 2023 at 7:10 pm

People hold Palestinian flags and shout slogans as they gather for a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Amsterdam, Netherlands on October 15, 2023 [Mouneb Taim – Anadolu Agency]

Several documentary film-makers withdrew from the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA) festival following the institution’s stance on the Mideast conflict, Anadolu Agency reports.

On the opening night of the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam last week, activists took up the stage to express support for Palestine with a banner that read “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” according to media reports.

IDFA and its Artistic Director, Orwa Nyrabia, issued a statement on 10 November, and said:

That slogan does not represent us, and we do not endorse it in any way. We are truly sorry that it was hurtful to many

“There are many ways that people use or read this slogan and that various sides use it in opposing ways, all of which we do not agree with, and we believe that this slogan should not be used in any way and by anybody anymore,” the statement said, inviting the ire of some film-makers, including Basma Al-Sharif, who announced on her social media account that she withdrew from the festival on Saturday, as a film-maker and member of the jury.

The number of film-makers who withdrew from the festival has reached 12 as of Tuesday, according to reports.

Protests to express solidarity and support for Palestine were organised across the world, while groups and countries supporting Israel called the slogan mentioned above an “anti-Semitic” expression.

As the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip entered its 39th day, at least 11,240 Palestinians have been killed, including over 7,700 women and children, and around 29,000 others have been injured, according to the latest figures from Palestinian authorities.

Thousands of buildings including hospitals, mosques and churches have also been damaged or destroyed in Israel’s relentless air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave since last month.

The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is nearly 1,200, according to official figures.

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