Thursday, September 10, 2009

Toronto Film Festival

Jane Fonda, whose area of expertise is unknown, has signed a letter criticizing the Toronto Film Festival for presenting a number of films from Tel Aviv, as part of its 'City to City' program.

I have to wonder why she was involved - repetitious exercise videos make one an intellectual or filmmaker?

Some 50 intellectuals and filmmakers, including Briton Ken Loach, have accused the Toronto film festival of "complicity with the Israeli propaganda machine" over its spotlight this year of Tel Aviv. The Toronto International Film Festival chose this year to present 10 films on the Jewish metropolis by local filmmakers for its "City to City" programme, which each year focuses its lens on a different city.


Seriously, what is she? Is she now claiming the status of intellectual?

"As members of the Canadian and international film, culture and media arts communities, we are deeply disturbed by the Toronto International Film Festival’s decision to host a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv. "


The emphasis on 'diversity' in City to City is empty given the absence of Palestinian filmmakers in the program. Furthermore, what this description does not say is that Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine’s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps in the Occupied Territories or who have been dispersed to other countries, including Canada. Looking at modern, sophisticated Tel Aviv without also considering the city’s past and the realities of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, would be like rhapsodizing about the beauty and elegant lifestyles in white-only Cape Town or Johannesburg during apartheid without acknowledging the corresponding black townships of Khayelitsha and Soweto.

Very well. Even assuming that today's Tel Aviv incorporates areas which were villages in the past, and acknowledging that Jaffa is now part of the Tel Aviv conglomeratus, what exactly are you saying?

Are you saying that the only cities worthy of consideration are those with no past?
By that measure, not only would not a single city in the Americas be worthy of consideration, but likewise not a single European city, and certainly no city anywhere in the Mid-East. All are built, like Troy, on the remains of previous settlements. All have, even today, resentful enemies who lament their cause.

Even Toronto, per Wikipedia, "when Europeans first arrived at the site of present-day Toronto, the vicinity was inhabited by the Huron tribes, who by then had displaced the Iroquois tribes that had occupied the region for centuries before c. 1500" (

New York was New Amsterdam, and before that it belonged to native Americans. London was a Celtic city. Istanbul belongs to the Greeks, why is it now filled with Turks who refuse to move? Paris was Gaulish - who are those people speaking a Latin-based creole plus Arabic who brutally occupy it now? Alexandria was Greek, Cairo was once a Goptic center - now both groups are minorities there.

Not to belabor the point, but all cities have a past that includes displacement and migration. That is the nature of cities and states.
An awareness of history, and a minimal degree of cultural literacy, would have told you so.

The purpose of a film festival is to highlight the creativity of the film makers. Not to make political points and enforce ideological rigidity. For that you really need to go to the former Soviet Union, or today's North Korea.

The letter was drafted by the following bunch of hypocrites:

Udi Aloni, Elle Flanders, Richard Fung, John Greyson, Naomi Klein, Kathy Wazana, Cynthia Wright, B. H. Yael.

It is endorsed by the following bunch of opportunists:

Ahmad Abdalla
Hany Abu-Assad
Mark Achbar
Zackie Achmat
Ra'anan Alexandrowicz
Anthony Arnove
Ruba Atiyeh
Joslyn Barnes
John Berger
David Byrne
Guy Davidi
Na-iem Dollie
Igor Drljaca
Eve Ensler
Eyal Eithcowich
Sophie Fiennes
Peter Fitting
Jane Fonda
Danny Glover
Noam Gonick
Malcolm Guy
Mike Hoolboom
Annemarie Jacir
Fredric Jameson
Juliano Mer Khamis
Bonnie Sherr Klein
Paul Laverty
Paul Lee
Yael Lerer
Jack Lewis
Ken Loach
Arab Lotfi
Kyo Maclear
Fatima Mawas
Tessa McWatt
Cornelius Moore
Yousry Nasrallah
Rebecca O'Brien
Pratibha Parmar
Jeremy Pikser
John Pilger
Shai Carmeli Pollak
Ian Iqbal Rashid
Judy Rebick
David Reeb
B. Ruby Rich
Wallace Shawn
Eyal Sivan
Elia Suleiman
Eran Torbiner
Alice Walker
Thomas Waugh
Howard Zinn
Slavoj Zizek

I would encourage you to boycott them, but for the majority it is very unclear what they have ever accomplished, and in any case many of them do not seem to have risen above turgid and jejeune mediocrity in whatever field they claim for themselves.


Chaim ben David said...

I beg to differ. Jane Fonda was absolutely perfect in Barbarella, which cemented her role as a serious actress - she has never done anything better. Even though in Monster In law she was perfectly cast.

Chaim ben David said...

And who can possibly forget her stellar achievements in the Workout series?

Exercise videos in chronological order:

1982: Jane Fonda's Workout (aka Workout Starring Jane Fonda)
1983: Jane Fonda's Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery Workout
1983: Jane Fonda's Workout Challenge
1984: Jane Fonda's Prime Time Workout (re-released as Jane Fonda's Easy Going Workout)
1985: Jane Fonda's New Workout
1986: Jane Fonda's Low Impact Aerobic Workout
1987: Jane Fonda's Start Up (aka Start Up with Jane Fonda)
1987: Jane Fonda's Sports Aid
1987: Jane Fonda's Workout with Weights (re-released as Jane Fonda's Toning and Shaping)
1988: Jane Fonda's Complete Workout
1989: Jane Fonda's Light Aerobics and Stress Reduction Program (re-released as Jane Fonda's Stress Reduction Program)
1990: Jane Fonda's Lean Routine Workout
1990: Jane Fonda's Workout Presents Fun House Fitness: The Swamp Stomp
1990: Jane Fonda's Workout Presents Fun House Fitness: The Fun House Funk
1991: Jane Fonda's Lower Body Solution
1992: Jane Fonda's Step Aerobic and Abdominal Workout
1993: Jane Fonda's Favorite Fat Burners
1993: Jane Fonda's Yoga Exercise Workout
1994: Jane Fonda's Step and Stretch Workout
1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Low Impact Aerobics & Stretch
1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Total Body Sculpting
1995: Jane Fonda's Personal Trainer Series: Abs, Buns & Thighs

For sheer durability, it matches Friday the Thirteenth, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

There is NO proof, by the way, that she acted in any of these films.

John McCain said...

On the subject of torture in general, Fonda told The New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture... but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie."

More proof that she is an honest woman, with sound judgement, can scarce be found.

Anonymous said...

Tel Aviv is a symbol of both Israeli acomplishment and Arab envy. Its why they hate it so much. In the time since Jews built Tel Aviv on sand dunes in the 1920s,(rather than Arab villages) it has become one of the world's great cities. The Palestinians have spent that time making and losing war after war against Israel. Envy and war mongering don't build world class cities. Neither the Palestinians nor Jane Fonda seem to have figured that out.

Chaim ben David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chaim ben David said...

Anonymous, that is both cogent and spot on. I note that Gland 'X' chose not to debate the Palestinian narrative, which holds that anything Jewish MUST be based on something Palestinian. But that false version does dominate the discourse among those with an interest in the region, due to their general misinformation and maleducation.

It is sad that movie stars such as ms. Fonda and mr. Glover do not choose to research these matters, and instead prefer to append their gut-reactive approvals to screeds which, on closer inspection, betray the writers as anti-Semites of the worst sort.

Even sadder that they tie their own reputations to those of mediocrities who by such propaganda efforts would boost their own regard.