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Israel to Recoup State Funding from Critical Films

Israeli film industry, especially its documentary sector is mostly dependent on governments subsidies

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ISRAEL: Attempts by Israel’s culture minister Miki Zohar to rescind state financing for two documentaries about the occupation of the Palestinian territories have raised worries that the nation’s new hard-right administration would actually carry out its threats to crack down on dissenting viewpoints.

According to the minister, he wants the creators of two movies, which are both presently playing at film festivals and are available on Israeli cable networks, to return government’s funding.

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One examines the development of Israeli rule over the West Bank city of Hebron under the name H2: Occupation Lab. The second, Two Kids a Day, investigates the detention and questioning of Palestinian kids.

The country’s film industry, especially its well-known documentary sector, is primarily dependent on subsidies managed through a number of government-funded film funds.

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“These two films are in the eye of the storm, but this is an attack on freedom of expression in Israel, on culture, and on every Israeli artist,” Two Kids a Day director David Wachsmann said.

The movie examines the detention and questioning of four refugee camp youngsters from Aida who were kept – in one case for four years – on charges of hurling stones. Human rights organizations have kept track of hundreds of these arrests each year. The majority occur while the kids are sleeping in the middle of the night.

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An inquiry for comment was not answered by the ministry of culture. The cultural minister has already criticized Israeli works that deal with the occupation. The fiery politician Miri Regev, who held the position from 2015 to 2020, tried to stop governmental funding for controversial projects. 

Along with that, she established the “Samaria Film Fund” for Jewish settlers to combat what she saw as a left-leaning bias in the sector. Her bill, which would have tied state money to “loyalty” to the state, was killed in the legislature.

However, artists are concerned that the barriers that were in place just a few years ago are going to disappear under the present government, which is the most right-wing in Israel’s history. 

The judges’ and legal advisers’ independence, which has occasionally been used as a check on previous proposals, would be destroyed by a proposed legal reform. In recent weeks, there have been widespread demonstrations against judicial reforms in Israeli cities.

Meanwhile, the nation’s public broadcaster, which finances numerous television and documentary productions in addition to its news operation, is set to be dismantled, according to the government’s communications minister.

Also Read: France: Macron’s Move to Change the Official Retirement Age Creates Havoc

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