The Austrian branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has slammed the cancellation of a Palestinian film screening as an attack on free speech and an example of institutional racism.
The ARTIS Cinema in the Austrian capital Vienna had been slated to screen the premiere of “¡Yallah! ¡Yallah!”, an Argentinian-Palestinian co-production by film director Cristian Pirovano, this week. Pirovano is currently touring Europe to promote the film and was due to address the audience after the film screening.
BDS Austria protests the cancellation of the Austrian premiere of the film ¡Yallah! ¡Yallah!Against Anti-Palestinian…
However, at the last minute ARTIS Cinema announced that it would not screen the film, saying that “in recent days we increasingly received information and messages which pointed out the politically controversial statement not so much of the film as such, but of the movement supported by BDS.”
“¡Yallah! ¡Yallah!” follows the lives of seven Palestinians and their passion for football under Israel’s 52-year old occupation and continued forced displacement. It has won awards at numerous film festivals across Latin America and Europe, having been screened in over 100 cities.
"¡Yallah! ¡Yallah!," co-directed by @CriPirovano, is a film about Palestinians who play football. But an Austrian cinema banned it due to political censorship https://t.co/WPVggusAJb pic.twitter.com/udjzO3DqUS
— Electronic Intifada (@intifada) September 6, 2019
In a lengthy Facebook post, BDS Austria accused ARTIS Cinema – which belongs to Cineplexx Ltd., the largest cinema operator in Austria – of “attempting to hide the pressure it has received from Zionist institutions” and argued that it was thus engaging in “censorship”.
Activists on Wednesday protested against the decision outside ARTIS Cinema, waving Palestinian flags and donning keffiyehs, the traditional Palestinian headdress.
Full details of the Screening of 'Yallah! Yallah! Palestinian Football, Passion & Struggle' with Q&A from director Cristian Pirovano are here: https://t.co/OnMr56wnuZ
— IPSC (@ipsc48) September 6, 2019
The cinema also cited a resolution adopted by the Vienna City Council in 2018, which called for “no cooperation with the antisemitic BDS movement” and sought to prevent public institutions and venues from hosting events affiliated with BDS.
Israel has actively tried to ban BDS in Europe, with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan in June contacting European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, to request that he ensures the European Union (EU) halt funding to Palestinian organizations which support BDS.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)