ADL ‘Deeply Disappointed’ Over Academy Museum Event Featuring Anti-Israel Filmmakers: ‘They Cannot Allow This to Continue’ | Exclusive

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is “deeply disappointed” in the Academy Museum’s decision to platform two filmmakers “who have repeatedly aligned themselves with anti-Israel and pro-Hamas movements,” he said in an exclusive statement to TheWrap.

The event, which will be held at the museum on Friday at 7:30 pm PT, is titled “Ahkam-E Negah (The Commandments of Looking): The Work of Maryam Tafakory” and will include a note from Farihah Zaman, who programmed the event in “partnership with Museum of the Moving Image as part of the ongoing series Infinite Beauty: Muslim and MENASA Identity Onscreen,” according to the Academy’s website. 

In his statement, Greenblatt said that Zaman and Tafakory have “supported antisemitic protests and events in America” and have “called for a total academic and cultural boycott of the state of Israel.”

“At a time when antisemitism is at historic levels in the United States and around the world, we would have hoped to see the Academy exercise better judgement in selecting speakers for their filmmaker events,” the ADL CEO added. “We are currently in direct contact with leaders in the entertainment industry and are working to send a message to the leadership that they cannot allow this to continue.” 

Zaman, a queer Bangladeshi-American award-winning filmmaker, writer, and curator has been outspoken in her support for the Palestinian cause since Oct. 7, affiliating and protesting with Film Workers for Palestine, signing an open letter against Zionism and drawing comparisons to “white supremacist society,” on social media. 

The Academy Museum event will feature the work of filmmaker Maryam Tafakory, who “radically recontextualizes film, poetry, and archival sound and image to create a vital dialogue with post-Revolution Iranian cinema … without centering a Western gaze.”

Tafakory has expressed similar sentiment against Israel since the outbreak of war in Gaza. She withdrew her submission from the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam over criticism of her use of the phrase “From the River to the Sea,” which she said “is an expression of liberation and resistance by Palestinian freedom fighters. To call this slogan ‘hurtful’ is to be against the end of occupation.”

“Let’s remember that this is a struggle against the white imperial supremacy and art institutions’ maintaining of the status quo for fear of losing funding,” she said.

Both Tafakory and Zaman have repeatedly referred to the ongoing war in Gaza as a “genocide.” 

The Academy did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Academy Museum event is the first dedicated Los Angeles screening of Tafakory’s work, which will include “Mast-del,” the film withdrawn from the Amsterdam festival that premiered at Cannes in 2023. 

The Museum’s film programming is funded by the Richard Roth Foundation, according to the event website. 

Criticism of Friday’s event comes just weeks after the museum enacted changes to its exhibit about the Jewish founders of Hollywood following backlash from many who considered it to be antisemitic. 

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