Jewish film festival to return to London theater, but not this year

August 19

CANTERBURY, England — A well-known London theater has reversed its decision and will host future Jewish film festivals partly financed by the Israeli Embassy, though not this year.

Earlier this month, the Tricycle Theatre board decided not to host the 2014 UK Jewish Film Festival because of the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and the Israeli government’s financial backing of the festival.

Twenty-six films were scheduled to be shown in November.

On Friday (Aug. 15), a joint statement from the theater and the film festival said the Tricycle Theatre had withdrawn its objection and invited the film festival back on the same terms as in previous years “with no restriction on funding from the Embassy of Israel in London.” The theater has hosted the festival for the past eight years.

“The UK-JFF and The Tricycle Theater have agreed to work together to re-build their relationship and although the festival is not able to return in 2014, we hope to begin the process of re-building trust and confidence with a view to holding events in the future,” the statement says.

Asked what had changed the theater’s decision, a spokeswoman for the film festival, Laura Moss, said: “I cannot say. I have nothing to add to the joint statement.”

Would there definitely be no UK-JFF festival at the Tricycle this year? “No comment,” said Moss, who added, “There are ongoing talks.”

There is mounting speculation in theater circles that the change of mind followed complaints by leading British Jews that the initial decision unfairly linked the festival to events in the Middle East.

The editor of The Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, said the theater had singled out Israel for a boycott. Actor David Winner tweeted: “Disgusted beyond words by naked anti-Semitism. If The Tricycle boycotts Jews, Jews should boycott The Tricycle.”

Meanwhile, the Tricycle Theatre, the UK- JFF and the Israeli Embassy in London have agreed to say nothing more on the subject — at least, for the time being.

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