Letter to Tel Aviv Student Film Festival

Dear Pop Up Cinema curators,

Thank you for selecting my film The Guest of Marie Curie to be screened at “Pop Up Cinema” project, as part of the 16th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival.

But unfortunately I must refrain from showing my film at your Pop Up Cinema. The reason I don’t want to screen my film at your pop up cinema project is because I’ve decided to endorse the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which is a key part of the BDS National Committee (BNC). BDS stands for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions. Here is a link to the BDS call.

The reason I choose to boycott and not screen my film at your Pop Up Cinema, is because it’s a part of the 16th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival, which is organized by Tel Aviv University.

Like all Israeli universities, Tel Aviv University adheres to an Israeli law which stipulates that universities must give special treatment to student military reservists—in the form of financial assistance, age restrictions for entry into particular programs, and student housing allotments. This evidences both Tel Aviv University’s complicity in the occupation and its discriminatory practices against Palestinian students, who are not required to serve in the Israeli military.  The university likewise discriminates against the small but significant number of Jewish conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).[5]
An example of Tel Aviv complicity in the occupation and siege of Gaza is when Tel Aviv University awarded scholarships to hundreds of students who participated in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza 2014.

In 2014 I took part in The Film Bus, which was a part of the 14th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival. Since then I’ve decided to join other artists and filmmakers in the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of cultural institutions and film festivals in Israel that doesn’t take an active stand against the occupation of Palestine.

My experience from The Film Bus project left me with a lot of questions and regret regarding my participation. It was also that experience that lead me to a decision about boycott. I’ve written an article about my experience, it is written together with the documentary filmmaker Anna Padilla, who took part in the Film Bus Project 2012. You can read it here.

I have also made a film about my experiences in Israel/Palestine during the early summer 2014. My visit in Israel and Palestine sparked a lot of emotions and I felt the need to process and express them through a film. The film is more personal than the article. It is a film about me, the bus trip in Israel and about my Jewish family relations. Feel free to watch it, but take notice that I’m not sending it to you for your film festival.

The Bus Trip Trailer from Sarah Gampel on Vimeo.

To watch the entire film, please email the director at: sarah.gampel@gmail.com

My reason for joining the Palestinian call for boycott is not to stop dialog or cultural exchange, but on the contrary, I wish to start dialog and exchange with both Palestinian and Israeli filmmakers, artists, activists and film festivals who actively take a stand against the occupation of Palestine and for equal human rights for both Israelis and Palestinians.

I hope my email reaches you well and that I will be able to send my future films to both Israeli and Palestinian film festivals in a near future.

Sincerely,

Sarah Gampel,

Animation film director