On November 6, 2023, Cinéma du Parc censored a film about Palestine, after receiving complaints from customers about the title of the program ‘’From the River to the Sea’’. The Board met and imposed the decision to cancel the screening of the film. This was the message:
“Given the unease aroused in relation to the political content of your event “From the river to the sea” and the current context, the Board of Directors and the general management of the Corporation du Cinéma du Parc have decided to cancel the event this evening, November 6. We are sorry for the inconvenience.
This message will be communicated to customers who write to us, printed and posted on site and communicated to those who show up this evening.”
The directors of Cinéma du Parc who censored the film are:
Patricia Hanigan (President), Jean-François Lalonde, Catherine Trudeau, Michel Lemay, Ziad Touma, Jean Caouette, Lorne Price, Meriem Benammour, Clotilde Jutras-Marion, Réjean Dong-Hai Nguyen, and Sherley Normandeau.
In response to these acts of censorship, a sit-in was organized where several people spoke and explained the importance of denouncing censorship and the genocidal actions of the Israeli regime and its friends against the Palestinian people.
Here is the joint statement from the organizing groups:
JOINT STATEMENT FROM MONTREAL CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS CONDEMNING CINEMA DU PARC’S CENSORSHIP OF A PALESTINIAN FILM SCREENING LAST NIGHT MONDAY NOVEMBER 6th
“From the River to the Sea” is a fundraiser screening series organized by a coalition of 10 cultural organizations based in Montreal. This film program puts forth Palestinian narratives, histories, and representations to contextualize the genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza today, within a century-long and ongoing settler colonial project built on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land and life. These events aim to raise funds to support three medical NGOs operating in Gaza: Medical Aid for Palestinians, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and Palestinian Medical Relief Society.
Breaking their commitment to our coalition, Cinéma du Parc unilaterally canceled one of the humanitarian fundraiser screenings on November 6, 2023, a couple of hours before the event was planned to take place, without consulting with us or offering us an opportunity for discussion. In this unambiguous act of censorship, Cinéma du Parc cited “security concerns” and “the political nature of the screening” as reasons to cancel a screening of rare and thought-provoking documentaries by the late Lebanese filmmaker and journalist Jocelyne Saab, who is internationally recognized as a central figure of women-led engaged non-fiction cinema.
We learned from our own research that these issues were a result of a petition claiming to represent the Montreal and Canada Jewish Community, falsely accusing the title of the screening series of being antisemitic. We see this deliberate conflation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism everywhere in Canada and in the West in general, and we’re unfazed by it. These false accusations are launched at Palestinian Solidarity events regardless of the content of the event, with the objective of suppressing any expression of solidarity with Palestine.
The organizing coalition includes Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)/Palestiniens et Juifs Unis. Also, we work closely with Independent Jewish Voices/Voix Juives Indépendantes-Montréal. They have issued a petition supporting the screening series (link here) in which they demand that “Montreal cultural institutions not bow to this pressure at this moment when Palestinian voices so urgently need to be heard.” We invite everyone to oppose artistic and cultural censorship by supporting this petition.
It is unconscionable that Cinéma du Parc and other Montreal-based cultural institutions, who start their events with land acknowledgments, calls for solidarity, and diversity of voices, cower whenever those statements require a clear political stance. It is shocking that Cinéma du Parc and other cultural institutions are so easily gaslit by false accusations of genocidal intent. At the same time, they stand silent to Israel’s literal genocide in Gaza right now!!! This is a clear demonstration of how Zionist propaganda weaponizes the very real problem of antisemitism to censor the voices of Palestinians, of anti-Zionist Jews and their allies, to suppress any form of Palestinian solidarity, and to ensure silence and complicity in its genocidal settler colonial project.
Regards Palestiniens is a two-decade-old Montreal-based collective—of academics, artists, curators, and social-justice activists—dedicated to organizing cinema events that reflect the multiple imaginaries of Palestine as well as reflect Palestinian creativity and engagement. From the River to the Sea” is not just a slogan to us. It is an actual description of the land where many of our members are from and where our filmmakers are from. It is not an imaginative space that lies in Zionist utopias and dystopias. “From the River to the Sea” is a reference to historic Palestine, a place that existed long before Zionism and will exist long after.
The coalition of cultural institutions in Montreal responsible for organizing this screening demands the following:
- That Cinéma du Parc issues a public apology for silencing and censoring Palestinian voices at this moment when Palestinian voices so urgently need to be heard, and that they commit to not cowering to the fear-mongering, bullying, and scare tactics.
- Cinéma du Parc’s rescheduling of the canceled film screening to another date.
- A sizable donation to the organizations we are fundraising for to make up for the funds lost due to the last-minute cancellation.
Our fundraiser screening series continues next week on Tuesday, November 14, at La Sala Rossa at 7 p.m. with a program of films on Gaza curated in collaboration with Dhakira Collective. This program is available online on Zoom Out.
For press inquiries and any additional information, please be in touch with Farah Atoui (for inquiries in French, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Muhammad ElKhairy (for inquiries in English, email@example.com).
Collectif Regards Palestiniens
Feminist Media Studio
Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)