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Leaked Emails Expose Israeli Control of Frameline at Highest Levels

Leaked Emails Expose Israeli Control of Frameline at Highest Levels
Tom Léger

A leaked internal report regarding the protests targetting Frameline has exposed clandestine arrangements between the film festival management and Israeli government officials. The report includes a series of emails that show Executive Director Kenneth C. Price colluding with Israeli consul general Akiva Tor to counter protests by anti-occupation activists targeting the 35-year old film festival. Frameline, the longest-running LGBT film festival, accepts payments from the Israeli government as sponsorship for programming Israeli films, an exchange that violates the international boycott of government-sponsored cultural and academic events from Israel. Independent Israeli artists and their work are not targeted by the call to boycott.

The private emails reveal an intimate personal relationship between Mr. Price, who has been with the San Francisco-based festival since 2008, and Mr. Tor, including discussion of film programming months before the films were officially announced. While Mr. Price was publicly defending Frameline’s practices regarding the 2011 protests to The Bay Area Reporter by insisting, “Frameline is an arts and culture organization, and we don’t take political points of view,” his private messages show the opposite is true. In the emails, not only does Mr. Price make no attempt to divest from political bias, but that he specifically reaches out to Mr. Tor and others for assistance in fending off the attacks from QUIT. Frameline’s efforts included encouraging a vigorous public relations campaign and Mr. Price’s personal attempts to censor MUNI advertisements purchased by QUIT to raise public awareness about the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and Frameline’s complicity.

The full text of the report, including all emails, can be viewed below, or by visiting this link. Mondoweiss also published an extremely detailed analysis of the text earlier today.

The leaked report comes on the heels of other anti-“pinkwashing” organzing, including last month’s cancellation by the Seattle LGBT commission of a planned panel after concerns of pinkwashing were brought to their attention by local activists, including Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and author of “Normal Life.”

Similar manipulative relationships between corporate interests and the gay men in charge of powerful cultural organizations have been exposed in the recent past. In June 2011, Jarrett Barrios, former Executive Director of GLAAD, used GLAAD’s platform of influence to champion the interests of AT&T until it was discovered that he was working on behalf of the corporation to change public perception concerning the merger of AT&T with T-Mobile. Mr. Barrios resigned in disgrace after the coverup was revealed. A board member who was a lobbyist for AT&T also resigned shortly after it was exposed that AT&T provided the letter for Mr. Barrios, who sent it on behalf of GLAAD without alteration.

GLAAD survived the scandal, but not without massive layoffs of 25% of its staff in January 2012. 

Whether Mr. Price would be forced to step down is, so far, unclear. Frameline representatives could not be reached for comment on this article prior to publication.

The Israeli Consul General and Frameline


  1. Nice reporting. Pinkwashers suck!

  2. Florencia Manovil

    Ok, so I was initially horrified to hear about this, as a staunchly pro-Palestine person who happens to be a queer filmmaker (who has screened at Frameline and hopes to screen again in the future). But I read the full leaked document (and I mean, every word), and I can’t help but think that the suggestion that the Frameline ED is collaborating with the Israeli government to squash dissent is a reach at best. I also don’t think the conversation about programming was understood.
    To be clear, the document itself was clearly created with a Zionist agenda – and several of those letters to the editor, which presumably represent the intended readership of the document, are very offensive in their lack of acknowledgment of the reality of the war on Palestine. But I think we’re in danger here of adopting the black-or-white capitalist/warmongering mentality that many of us (artists, progressive thinkers) seek to dismantle.
    It’s really worth noting that the Frameline ED’s primary concern seems to be the screening of the selected films and the integrity of the artistic experience of a festival (not letting a screening be affected by a protest can be understood in this context, at least by this filmmaker). Said films do not represent or even support the Israeli government, and many of them are highly critical of it (this is indeed true for the couple I’ve seen). In fact, the Israeli consul himself talks about belonging to a sector of Israeli society that is highly critical of the government’s attacks on Palestineans.. it’s not all black-or-white.
    Also, if you read the emails carefully, the Frameline decisions – which, indeed, are always finalized around the end of March/beginning of April, and announced to the filmmakers around that time, many weeks before they’re made public – are not influenced by the opinions of anyone in the consulate. Price is simply letting them know which Israeli films might end up in the festival because those would be the ones copresented by the consulate.
    In any case, I think pinkwashing is real and must be addressed, but I don’t think calling for a boycott of Frameline is helping the cause. I do believe Frameline could make a strong statement in support of human rights by refusing to take official Israeli money to bring Israeli filmmakers to the festival – and yet, I also understand and respect that they want to remain completely apolitical to preserve their integrity as an arts organization, no matter the personal opinions of their leadership. (It’s also worth noting that if these filmmakers that are being brought over with the Israeli consulate’s money are critical of their own government, it can also be seen as a subversive act.)
    And comparing those conversations with the GLAAD corporate implant… well that’s just poor reporting. We’re smarter than that.

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