Cinematheque, Tikotin Museum claim technical difficulties in renting hall to NGO Zochrot, but anonymous requests from group were filled immediately.
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Two municipal cultural institutions in Haifa – the Haifa Cinematheque and the Tikotin Museum – refused in recent months to allow the group Zochrot to rent a theater to screen short films that were shown in the past at the International Festival for the Nakba. Although these institutions rent out theaters to anyone, and although their representatives told Zochrot that the theaters were available for rental on several dates in the coming months, repeated requests by the association to rent a hall, for pay, were turned down.
The director of Zochrot, Liat Rosenberg, told Haaretz yesterday: “I have no doubt that this conduct is a result of political pressure imposed on the theaters belonging to ETHOS, the Haifa Municipality Arts, Culture and Sports Association, and this is a direct continuation of the municipality’s conduct regarding the Al-Midan Theater.” The municipality temporarily froze its annual funding to Al-Midan over the Arabic-language theater’s production of a play about a convicted Palestinian terrorist, but later reinstated it.
The Nakba film festival, produced by Zochrot, has already taken place twice in the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The second time, in November 2014, the previous minister of culture, Limor Livnat, threatened to remove her ministry’s support for the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, claiming that it is not reasonable for “an organization supported by the State of Israel to permit an entire festival devoted to preaching that the day of the establishment of the State of Israel is a day of mourning.”
Three months later Zochrot asked to hold the festival in the Haifa Cinematheque, but although the cinematheque administration showed interest in the initiative, in the end Mayor Yona Yahav, who also serves as the chairman of ETHOS, would not allow it to take place. The municipality explained at the time that the decision was not made for political reasons, claiming that Yahav would allow the event to take place on condition that the association rent the cinematheque theater for the purpose of screening the films.