The war in Gaza is coming to Park City.
Rumored for weeks, a pro-Palestinian protest has been set for noon on Sunday, January 21 at the Sundance Film Festival. By coincidence or not, the Let Gaza Live gathering is organized at almost the exact same time a Sundance partnered panel on “deadly tropes about Jews and Israel on TV, Film and Media” is planned on Sunday. Presented by American Orthodox Jewish nonprofit organization Jew in the City, the tropes panel is not programmed by the festival.
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“We are inviting you to gather with us for a peaceful protest at the Sundance Film Festival, one of the largest indie film festivals in the world, that showcases documentaries and films that break barriers,” said protest organizers on social media last week. “While bombs are dropping, the people cannot continue watching films on their screens while ignoring a genocide in Gaza,” they state.
“While we do not take issue with Sundance as a whole, we aim to let spectators and news reporters know that Utah stands with Palestine,” the group Palestinian Solidarity UT adds.
“We have also been made aware of the demonstration and its commitment to maintaining a peaceful environment,” a Sundance Institute spokesperson told Deadline Friday night. “While the organizers are non-affiliated with the Festival itself, the safety and security of our festival goers is always of concern to us, and we consistently work with local law enforcement to uphold an environment that is welcoming, inspiring, and secure for all our attendees.”
The Park City Police did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on the protests. However, a well-positioned source tells us the cops will be out on the streets to ensure there are no disturbances. “There have been a number of marches here, they’ve all been peaceful, and this one will be too if all goes as it should,” the source said.
Some Sundance attendees were not so sanguine.
“Will anybody be calling out Hamas, an Iran-backed terrorist regime that rapes and murders and slaughters its own people?” asked Malina Saval in the comments of the post announcing the protests. Saval is the moderator of Sunday’s Sects, Lies & Videotape: Debunking Deadly Tropes About Jews and Israel in TV, Film and Media panel “Will there be actual support of the Palestinian people or is this just a gathering of Jew haters,” she went on to say.
“This is clearly an attempt to highjack the festival’s media limelight,” said one industry vet upon hearing of the protest. “Don’t be surprised if this backfires, people are here to work, to sell,” she concluded, noting her own alarm at the civilian casualties coming out of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza since Hamas attacked the Jewish state October 7.
More than 1400 were left dead from the brutal siege there as detailed evidence shows wide-spread rapes and hundreds of people, including young children, taken hostage. Within hours, Israel fought back with airstrikes and bombing of potential Hamas strongholds. Within weeks, hundreds of thousands of IDF troops crossed the border into Gaza territory. As Hamas have gone to ground, Gaza has been decimated and most of the population dislocated.
Still remaining relatively contained in the volatile region, despite some attacks on Western shipping in the Red Sea, the war has seen pro-Palestinian protests all over the world and clashes at the UN amid calls for a permanent ceasefire. Simultaneously, acts of antisemitism and threats against Jewish institutions has risen sharply around the Western world. Currently the Israeli coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected both the notion of a permanent ceasefire and the long US advocated two-state solution.
The Sundance Film Festival kicked off Thursday and runs until January 28.
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