'Barley' director refuses invitation to Haifa Film Fest

Ken Loach has joined a Palestinian boycott of Israeli cultural institutions in protest over the violence in Gaza and Lebanon.

Helmer, who won Cannes’ Palme d’Or in May with “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” has refused an invitation to the Haifa Film Festival in northern Israel, skedded for October.

Loach called on others to follow his example and also blasted the “terrorist activities of the British and U.S. governments.”

Move comes on the heels of an open letter signed by 18 writers, including Gore Vidal, Thomas Keneally and Toni Morrison, denouncing “a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less that the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.”

A number of film fests, including Locarno and Edinburgh, have dropped events sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Loach’s stance could hit “Wind” in Israel, where it’s skedded to be released by Shani Films.

Pic’s producer, Rebecca O’Brien, was keen to defuse the situation. “It’s important to note that Ken’s statement is not against individual Israeli filmmakers or companies. It’s only against state-sponsored cultural institutions,” she said.

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