Standing with Frameline
The Israeli Consulate's past financial support of Frameline, the acclaimed and long-running LGBT film festival, touchedoff a dustup in the
Bay Area Reporter
's letters to the editor. The calls by some LGBT filmmakers and other activists for a"cultural boycott" of this year's festival is misguided because it holds Frameline responsible for the government of Israel.We stand with Frameline in its past decisions to accept the support of the Israeli Consulate and we urge readers tosupport Frameline as well. Frameline is currently in the process of selecting films for this summer's festival and has notyet confirmed any from Israel.We support an important San Francisco LGBT institution
as it endeavors to present some of the mostcutting edge and important LGBT films to its audiences. Frameline is an arts and culture organization, it does not takeformal political positions on any country or culture. A boycott to force Frameline to refuse grants from the IsraeliConsulate will not solve the differences between Israelis and Palestinians. Executive Director K.C. Price noted that thefestival's aim is promoting LGBT voices from around the world. Price also pointed out that Israeli films screened byFrameline often have highly critical points of view about their own country. Three years ago, Frameline screened (andnow distributes)
, a documentary about a tireless Israeli activist who champions Palestinians living in theSouth Hebron Hills.Frameline's mission is to strengthen and further the diverse LGBT world community by supporting and promoting abroad array of cultural representations and artistic expression in film, video, and other media arts. It usually receivesfinancial support from one or more consulates each year. Over the past decade, Frameline received funds from theIsraeli Consulate approximately four times, which was mostly used to pay for travel and related expenses to SanFrancisco for prominent LGBT Israeli filmmakers such as Eytan Fox (
Yossi and Jaeger
) and Tomer Heymann (
).Last year the festival screened two feature length films from Israel, a narrative (
Eyes Wide Open
) and a documentary(
); and with a $1,500 grant from the consulate, Frameline flew in Yair Qedar, the director of
.Significantly, Israel is the only country in the Middle East that affords legal rights to gays and lesbians. It has allowedopen military service for years. It has no sodomy laws or vague statutes like "offenses against religion" or "immoralconduct." In contrast, same-sex sexual activity is punishable in many Middle Eastern countries, where there is norecognition of our relationships, no adoption, and no anti-discrimination laws. Gays fleeing persecution in Palestineusually go to Israel.A cultural boycott of Frameline will only hurt the organization and not bring peace or settle long-standing disputes in theMiddle East. Life in Israel is undoubtedly not perfect for lesbians and gays
just as it's not perfect for LGBTs in the U.S.
at least it is a democracy that struggles to support gay rights and is willing to submit to self-criticism by its citizens. If anything, Frameline, in its capacity as a film presenter, is able to foster open dialogue about the current politicalsituation in Israel.By reaching out to Frameline in previous years, the Israeli Consulate has shown a willingness to support out filmmakers,even those who may tell a story the government doesn't like. While gay and lesbian issues usually go unaddressed or arecondemned in the Middle East, Israel's support of Frameline is an example we'd like to see other countries emulate.