Canadian Jewish Film Festival Postponed Over Cinema Security Concerns

The Hamilton Jewish Film Festival is looking for another cinema to host its event after the Playhouse Cinema pulled its venue rental over “security and safety concerns” amid the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The film festival was to have run from April 7 to 9 in Hamilton, Ontario at the Playhouse Cinema until the movie theater took the decision to backtrack on those plans.

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“After receiving numerous security and safety related emails, phone calls, and social media messages, the Playhouse Cinema reached a difficult decision to postpone the Hamilton Jewish Federation’s venue rental. On Saturday, March 16, our decision to postpone this venue rental was reached amid security and safety concerns at this particularly sensitive time,” the Playhouse Cinema said in a statement.

The Hamilton Jewish Film Festival, presented in part by the Hamilton Jewish Federation, on its website said the event “will continue at a new date and location,” with plans to be announced in the future. For its part, the Hamilton Jewish Federation criticized the Playhouse Cinema for bowing to pressure in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel and the ongoing war in Gaza.

“In withdrawing its support of a Jewish film festival based on outrageous claims by a few individuals that any film produced in Israel is a form of ‘Zionist propaganda,’ the Playhouse Cinema is prioritizing the will of antisemites over an apolitical cultural festival that stands for artistic excellence and integrity,” the federation said in a statement.

The Hamilton Jewish Film Festival had programmed six films produced in France, Poland and Israel, including Hope Without Boundaries, about an Israeli field hospital in war-torn Ukraine; Iris Zaki’s Women in Sink, about a hair salon in the heart in the Christian Arab community in Haifa where the director works as a shampoo girl and talks to Palestinian and Israeli women as they receive a head massage; and The Boy, the last film by Israeli filmmaker Yahav Winner, who was killed on Oct. 7, 2023 at Kibbutz Kfar Aza while defending his wife, filmmaker Shaylee Atary, and child from a Hamas terrorist attack.

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