Ian Halperin, whose book credits include “Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson” (2009), “Whitney and Bobbi Kristina” (2015) and “The Governator: From Muscle Beach to His Quest For the White House, the Improbable Rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger” (2010), has written and directed a documentary titled “Wish You Weren’t Here,” which probes Waters’ call for a boycott of Israel and controversial statements he has made, including a comparison of the country’s policies to “Nazi Germany.”
Halperin spent two years conducting interviews with leading experts on contemporary antisemitism, “many who are alarmed and frightened of Waters’ attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people,” he tells Variety. “From Pope Francis, to Ronald Lauder, to Alan Dershowitz, to Muslim leaders, to leading Arab advocates.” He also spoke to anti-apartheid activists from the 1980s and 1990s about Waters’ equating Israel with the former two-class state.
Adds Halperin: “Throughout the film, which is very fair, the recurring question is why Waters singles out Israel? Why not Iran, Syria, and others who are extreme violators of human rights? And why, for almost six years, since Waters initially endorsed BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), has the world pretty much remained silent and let Waters laugh all the way to the bank, performing the highest-grossing tour ever among solo artists?”
Waters is currently on a 61-date North American tour, and in June released a new album, “Is This the Life We Really Want?,” via Columbia Records. He was also recently embroiled in a war of words with Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who took issue with a petition calling for the band to cancel its July 19 concert in Tel Aviv.
In 2010, the Halperin-produced “Gone Too Soon,” a film about Jackson’s final days, aired on the TV Guide Network with distribution by Shine International.
“Wish You Weren’t Here” is set for release in August, with distribution partners to be announced. Watch a trailer here.