I have been going to the AFFR (Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam) for a few years now. They always have both incredible films and very very bad organisation. My abiding image of the festival is leaving a late screening one evening and seeing a bunch of men in shirts drinking champagne. That’s AFFR. All about networking. Paying lip service to ethical concerns by showing provocative films but continuing to build shitty things. Cackhanded debates? Patronising male interviewers? That’s AFFR.
This year they continued with their dumb idea of adding unannounced short films to screenings. This meant that when i went to see Pantarei Pantanella, a film about a former factory in Rome, which was squatted by thousands of Bangladeshi migrants in the 1980s and then got renovated into flats, i first had to sit through two shorts. One was just shit, a short film about a former factory in Paris which got turned into a bloody shopping mall (woohoo). The other one was actually offensive. It was a Zionist film about a building called the Red House. It was obvious pretty early on where the film was going, but how can i walk out and come back in again to watch the film i want to watch when i don’t know how long the fucking short lasts for? But at least i saw Red House and thus can criticise it.
The Red House was built on PALESTINIAN land on the edge on Tel Aviv a century ago, and then the Zionist city grew around it. Of course the Zionist history was cherished not the land theft, and the story of the Polish immigrant Jews who worked there lovingly told WHAT ABOUT THE DISPLACED PALESTINIANS. Then the rest of the building’s history was told, it became a synagogue (yay religion) and then an art space. Yes there was a token Palestinian artist working there. THIS DOESN’T MEAN THIS WASN’T A ZIONIST STORY. Can art conquer all? Fuck off! I support the struggle of Palestinians to regain their land and escape a militarised apartheid, not shitty art projects.
On the very day i saw this film, it was announced that some Zionist idiots had successfully sued two activists based in New Zealand for their part in persuading Lorde not to play in Israel. An Israeli court ruled that Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab must pay $13200 / 45000 shekels to three ticket holders, as recompense. The court said that the two New Zealand women had affected the “artistic welfare” of the Israelis and caused “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”. Afterwards their lawyer then said “no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.”
However i’m happy to say the two activists (who founded Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation) refused to pay and the fine was quickly crodwfunded and redistributed to the Gaza
So what is happening with the cultural boycott of Israel nowadays? I see a few festivals of Israeli culture popping up in the Netherlands and there was a (shit) Israeli film at IFFR last year, so it appears the Israeli state is obviously pushing back against the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement because it is a political and economic success.
As Ken Loach says
We should not have anything to do with projects that are supported by the State of Israel. Individuals are not concerned; we have to concentrate on the actions of the Israeli State. That is what we have to target. We target it because you cannot just stand by and watch people live their lives in refugee camps forever.
So anyway, to get back to where we started, I got to see three films, all about factory spaces getting turned into bourgeois spaces YAY. And how was Pantarei you might ask? Well i don’t know actually, becuase they fucked up the subtitles so it was only in Italian. Nice huh? I don’t care because i have cineville, otherwise i would have been hopping mad to have paid 10 euors for that shitshow. It was just rubbing salt in the wound. I’d just met the filmmaker, i hope she wasn’t too pissed off!!
Fuck the AFFR.
Boycott Israeli products including Israeli culture!!