sonofbabylon

This morning the makers of the acclaimed feature Son of Babylon alerted Crikey to the news that they sent numerous requests to the Melbourne International Film Festival asking for the film be removed from the festival program.

The filmmakers strongly object to MIFF’s links with the State of Israel, which is one of the festival’s sponsors. Last year British director Ken Loach withdrew his film Looking for Eric from the program for the same reason.

Son of Babylon explores the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s downfall in Iraq. It is the second festival-selected film to attract controversy this year, following the OFLC’S decision earlier this month to ban director Bruce LaBruce’s LA Zombie.

Unfortunately for the filmmakers, Son of Babylon screenings have already come and gone. MIFF organisers claim they were not given sufficient notice to cancel the screenings.

Cinetology has not just the scoop but the entire email exchange between the makers of Son of Babylon and MIFF Executive Director Richard Moore, pasted below. Note that Cinetology has not edited the correspondence in any way.

Dear Richard,

When we grant a festival permission to screen a film that took us years to make along with danger, blood, sweat and tears –  we do so with trust. I would have thought a festival would morally recognise the need to tell a Palestinian co-production that it was funded by the state of Israel?

Your tone and “reasonable” manner is petulant, along with your actions in disregarding our requests not to have any screenings of our film at your festival.

I have spoken to the producer of Looking for Eric – who informed me that they were not requested to pay you any monies to the festival for pulling the film. I have made a fair offer to reimburse you for the shipment costs along with any monies you paid to our sales company to screen the film. A more than fair offer.

Also please send to me a copy of the agreement you have in place with our agent.

I will again reiterate that any permissions granted to Melbourne IFF to screen SON OF BABYLON have been revoked.

Sincerely,
Isabelle Stead

Iraq’s Missing Persons Petition – please sign: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/iraqs-missing-campaign

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-Babylon-bn-bbl/165219640829

http://www.causes.com/iraqsmissing

Isabelle Stead
Human Film
[email protected]
ADP House, 35 Hanover Square, Leeds, LS3 1BQ, UK, t: +44 (0) 113 243 8880 M+ 44 (0) 7835 378454

Human Film Inc. provides the information contained in this email message “as is” and makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding its accuracy or reliability.  Human Film Inc. disclaims all liability of any kind whatsoever arising out of your use of, or inability to use, this email message and the information contained on it.

This is a privileged and confidential communication.  If you are not an intended recipient, you should:  (1) reply to sender;  (2) destroy this communication entirely, including deletion of all associated text files from all individual and network storage devices;  and (3) refrain from copying or disseminating this communication by any means whatsoever.

On 28 July 2010 09:25, Richard Moore <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Isabelle

Re the question of festival sponsorship ; it is entirely a matter for our independent arts organisation to seek sponsorship wherever we see fit and we are under no legal obligation to declare our sources of funding for external groups to approve or disprove . Similarly we don’t ask filmmakers to declare their sources of funding.

For the record I find your comparison between Israel and an apartheid state odious ; we shall have to agree to disagree on this issue.

I have tried to deal with you in a reasonable manner by proposing a fair financial offer to compensate our festival for financial loss . In my view you have chosen not to treat this offer seriously.
Clearly, this situation is an unfortunate one and has been compounded by the time factor . As explained in prior  correspondence, the fact that you contacted us only on the date of the first screening exacerbated this situation.

I confirm that we have screened the film : it was enjoyed by many patrons and I sincerely hope it scores well in our audience awards.

regards

Richard Moore

Richard Moore
Executive Director

Melbourne International Film Festival
22 July – 8 August, 2010
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/

Direct: 61 3 8660 4804
Fax: 61 3 9654 2561

Postal Address: GPO Box 4982, Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia
Street Address: Level 5, 225 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Become a Member and/or join our e-newsletter Widescreen here:
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/join

Please consider the environment before you print this e-mail

Dear Richard,

I am happy of course to reimburse you for any money you paid to screen the film to our Sales company – along with shipment cost – but please also recognise the festival must hold some responsibility in not informing a Palestinian co-production that it was being supported by the state of Israel.

In the 1980’s Mr Rod Webb The Sydney Film Festival Director, refused to accepted any sponsorship or screen films from apartheid South Africa, when Israel is no longer an apartheid state, we will of course be proud to screen our films in conjunction. In the interim I would be happy to help you find alternative sponsorship that is independent of Israel’s support for Melbourne IFF in the future.

Thank you also for relaying back to me our mission statement which I am please and proud to say is still in full force and effect, to reiterate my last email – we are acting from a humanitarian stance.

I apologise if you felt threatened by my last email this was not my intent, nevertheless as said at present we have revoked your rights to screen our film and hope that you respect and have respected our wishes. Please can you inform me if the film has already screened at your festival?

Furthermore I am happy to work out an alternative for Melbourne audiences to view the film, independent of the Melbourne IFF.

Sincerely,

Isabelle Stead

Iraq’s Missing Persons Petition – please sign: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/iraqs-missing-campaign

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-Babylon-bn-bbl/165219640829

http://www.causes.com/iraqsmissing

Isabelle Stead
Human Film
[email protected]
ADP House, 35 Hanover Square, Leeds, LS3 1BQ, UK, t: +44 (0) 113 243 8880 M+ 44 (0) 7835 378454

Human Film Inc. provides the information contained in this email message “as is” and makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding its accuracy or reliability.  Human Film Inc. disclaims all liability of any kind whatsoever arising out of your use of, or inability to use, this email message and the information contained on it.

This is a privileged and confidential communication.  If you are not an intended recipient, you should:  (1) reply to sender;  (2) destroy this communication entirely, including deletion of all associated text files from all individual and network storage devices;  and (3) refrain from copying or disseminating this communication by any means whatsoever.

On 27 July 2010 05:58, Richard Moore <[email protected]> wrote:

Dear Isabelle

As I outlined in my previous email I look forward to seeing your written offer of financial compensation . I do not agree that you have provided us with enough time to cancel the screening. I have entered into correspondence with you promptly about this in order to find a solution.

Its unfortunate that you now resort to threats to “take appropriate action against the festival “.  Indeed , it seems extraordinary to me that an organisation that  claims to “break down cultural barriers through film “.. to  “ further understanding” and that also states that it does “ not apply any language,cultural,political,religious or any other barriers to our film making practice “ would engage in such a divisive act.

For your information the second screening of SON OF BABYLON is sold out. We estimate the costs of withdrawing the film at

Admissions                          $3,300
Hire of venue                          $400
Replacement film hire          $500
Staffing                                    $250
Total                                      $4,450

These hard costs do not include the distress and potential upset caused to our patrons and the cost of communicating with everyone who has purchased a ticket.

I expect to hear confirmation of your agreement to compensate the festival on these costs before I will reconsider the matter of the second screening of the film.

Regards

Richard Moore

Richard Moore
Executive Director

Melbourne International Film Festival
22 July – 8 August, 2010
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/

Direct: 61 3 8660 4804
Fax: 61 3 9654 2561

Postal Address: GPO Box 4982, Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia
Street Address: Level 5, 225 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Become a Member and/or join our e-newsletter Widescreen here:
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/join

Please consider the environment before you print this e-mail

Dear Richard,

Thank you for replying to our email. Please be aware Mohamed is currently in Sarajevo promoting the film and our Iraq’s Missing People Campaign.

I am the main producer for SON OF BABYLON, on behalf of the director, myself and our team I really hope that you have respected our wishes and withdrawn the film from your festival, entirely. This isn’t about politics this is about humanity.

To request a withdrawal of our film to a festival is our last wish and we are sorry for any inconvenience this causes to you, your colleagues, your festival and your audiences especially at such short notice. Please know it was only just brought to our attention that your festival was supported by the state of Israel, upon receiving this information,  we acted as promptly as we could.

We have only just last week, taken over the festivals from Roissy Films our sales company and will of course ensure in the future that we check in advance a festival’s sponsors, before accepting an invitation.  Nevertheless I am surprised that Melbourne IFF do not inform filmmakers whom have a Palestinian element/connection to their film that the state of Israel are involved in funding the festival?

The festival was informed in enough time to stop the screening – as I understand you were able to do this in 2009 when Ken Loach withdrew his film on the eve of it’s screening. Therefore if you have knowingly disregarded our wishes and screened the film, we will of course be left with little alternative than to take appropriate action against the festival. We would of course, be very reluctant to do this, but you should not underestimate our resolve to ensure that our film is not associated with the state of Israel as long as it continues it’s illegal crimes against humanity.

Sincerely,
Isabelle Stead

Human Film & Iraq Al-Rafidain

Iraq’s Missing Persons Petition – please sign: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/iraqs-missing-campaign

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Son-of-Babylon-bn-bbl/165219640829

http://www.causes.com/iraqsmissing

Isabelle Stead
Human Film

[email protected] <http://[email protected]>

ADP House, 35 Hanover Square, Leeds, LS3 1BQ, UK, t: +44 (0) 113 243 8880 M+ 44 (0) 7835 378454

Human Film Inc. provides the information contained in this email message “as is” and makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding its accuracy or reliability.  Human Film Inc. disclaims all liability of any kind whatsoever arising out of your use of, or inability to use, this email message and the information contained on it.

This is a privileged and confidential communication.  If you are not an intended recipient, you should:  (1) reply to sender;  (2) destroy this communication entirely, including deletion of all associated text files from all individual and network storage devices;  and (3) refrain from copying or disseminating this communication by any means whatsoever.

On 26 July 2010 17:02, Mohamed Al-Daradji <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> > wrote:

Answer her by no money will pay to them and we drowthe film out

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Richard Moore <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >
Date: 26 July 2010 06:54
Subject: SON OF BABYLON

To: [email protected] <http://[email protected]>
Cc: Michelle Carey <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >, Jess Langley <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >, Petrina Dorrington <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >

Dear Mohamed

Michelle Carey our head of programming has forwarded me your email which
arrived many weeks after the festival program has been announced and 3
months after you supplied us with all the technical information about your
film. This document we regard as official confirmation of your acceptance of
our conditions for the festival.

You sent the email on the day of the first screening of the film. I wouldn’t
suggest that your timing intended to cause our festival disruption; however,
I should point out that we have sold tickets to this session and we have an
eager public willing to view it.

You have your political opinions, which clearly I don’t share – lets put
that to one side. To request a withdrawal of the film on the day of the
screening is simply not acceptable and shows a lack of respect for our
organisation . We have worked hard to bring your film here and your
selection meant that other films could not be included in the program. We
are not able to replace the film at short notice and we will screen it
today.

I am prepared to consider other options for the second screening but I will
also need to consider the financial ramifications to our organisation of
having to bring in another film and the inevitable confusion and disruption
this will cause our patrons. Perhaps you will be prepared to offer us some
financial compensation for withdrawing your film.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Regards

Richard Moore

Richard Moore
Executive Director

Melbourne International Film Festival
22 July – 8 August, 2010
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/

Direct: 61 3 8660 4804
Fax: 61 3 9654 2561

Postal Address: GPO Box 4982, Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia
Street Address: Level 5, 225 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000

Become a Member and/or join our e-newsletter Widescreen here:
http://www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/join

Please consider the environment before you print this e-mail

From: Mohamed Al-Daradji <[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >
Sender: [email protected] <http://[email protected]>

Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 18:09:19 +0100

To: Michelle Carey<[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >
Cc: Isabelle<[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >; atia
aldraji<[email protected] <http://[email protected]> >

Subject: RE: We would like to withdrew our film Son of Babylon from
Melbourne IFF 2010
Dear Michelle,

It has just been brought to our attention that the Melbourne IFF is
supported by the state of Israel.

SON OF BABYLON  is a Palestinian co-production. We the filmmakers are whole
heartily against the Israeli government’s actions against the Palestinian
people and as such cannot screen our film at Melbourne IFF whilst there is
Israeli government support involved.

As human beings we feel duty bound not to support Israel’s aggressive
actions against the people of Palestine, who have been refused basic human
and political rights within an apartheid system, who are subjects to ongoing
military violence by the Israeli state, and let’s not forget the appalling
siege of Gaza which has deprived a besieged population of their basic human
needs such as clean water, food and medicine.

Rest assured we are not against the Israeli people or Israeli filmmakers, we
are against the Israeli government actions against Palestine..

It is therefore from a humanitarian stance that we refuse to have any
association with the state of Israel until they respect the human rights of
the Palestinian people.So we would liek to withdrew  Our film Son of
Babylon.
We will be more than happy to work with you in the future if there no
Israeli government support to your festival.

I am looking forward to hear from you.

Faithfully,
Mohamed Al-Daradji – Director
Isabelle Stead – Producer
Atia Al-Daradji – Producer

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