Algerian filmmaker participates in Israeli film festival

Merzak Allouache will take part in the Haifa International Film Festival, despite criticism [AFP]
Merzak Allouache will take part in the Haifa International Film Festival, despite criticism [AFP]
Al-Araby al-Jadeed

Algerian filmmaker Merzak Allouache has been left in outrage after the Algerian culture ministry threatened to retract his film grant if he did not withdraw his film Madame Courage from the Haifa International Film Festival in Israel.

“The Ministry of Culture sent me an assertive and contemptuous letter asking me to explain why an Algerian film was participating in this festival, and ordering me to withdraw the film and address public opinion,” Allouache said in his statement.

“This morning, I learned from the press that the minister of culture himself, speaking to a private Algerian television channel, would order me to reimburse the ministry’s funding while he waits for the results of an investigation that has been opened.”

Allouache added that since his film participated in the Israeli film festival, there had been a “violent and orchestrated lynching” by Algerian media outlets and social media.

“As I am accustomed to insults and virulent attacks over most of my films, I did not want to engage in this useless and hateful debate,” he explained, adding that he decided to ignore these “injunctions”.

“The selection of a film in a festival, even if it was Israeli, is not binding to the Algerian state,” said Allouache.

On the other hand, Algerian culture minister Ezzedine Mahyoubi told the Algerian Press Service (APS) on Friday that the ministry had approved a new article allowing it to ban films it has funded from participating in certain film festivals.

Mahyoubi added that the ministry was not responsible for Allouache’s Madame Courage, for which it only provided a “limited” contribution.

In response to Allouache’s allegation that he had not received any financial aid from the ministry, Mahyoubi said that the ministry had already granted the filmmaker 8 million Algerian Dinars ($75,590) out of 20 million ($188,976) pledged for Madame Courage.

In June, Algerian director Lyes Salem withdrew his film al-Wahrani from Israel’s Ashdod Film Festival after public outcry.

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