Organizers of the Edinburgh Film Festival, which begins next week, are trying to avoid controversy by creating some. They sent an email to Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir suggesting that he not travel to Scotland to attend the Fest, let alone the screening of his new documentary, Five Days. The organizers, who plan on showing the film whether or not Shamir attends, say they fear for his safety, because of protests against Israel's activity in Lebanon. (The film focuses on Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip last year.)
Shamir told The Independent that he still isn't sure if he'll go. He wants to make a stand by attending, but doesn't want to be met with threats. The ironic thing is that Shamir is not really known for being supportive of his country's actions, anyway. His last doc, Checkpoint, was actually pretty critical of the Israeli government. Now, one spokesman for the festival is claiming the email was misread and that organizers are currently expecting Shamir to attend (expecting and embracing is not the same, of course).
Certainly international film festivals are meant to be more daring than this.