Attendees at Frameline LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco one Saturday night were treated to an extra screening outside the theater. As people lined up for the 9:30 film, activists from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) projected the statements “Frameline Supports Apartheid,” “Israel Is An Apartheid State/Frameline Doesn’t Care” onto the theater wall, to music from the Brass Liberation Orchestra. Frameline has refused to sever its partnership with the Israeli government, despite five years of protests and calls by well-known queer artists, activists and filmmakers such as Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Barbara Hammer and Susan Stryker.
QUIT! was joined in the protest by members of Gay Shame, Mitheleen: Bay Area Arab Queers for BDS, and Iraq Veterans Against War. Mitheleen had requested a meeting with Frameline Executive Director Frances Wallace to discuss Israeli consulate sponsorship of the festival. Wallace refused to meet with them, saying the issue was closed.
Toronto-based filmmaker John Greyson, who has been trying for several years to convince Frameline to stop accepting consulate sponsorship, decided the time had come to withdraw his film, “Urinal,” from distribution by Frameline. The film was on sale on the Frameline website for $250. He sent them a video letter explaining his decision, which was part of QUIT!’s projection outside the Castro. Some years earlier, Sonja deVries of Louisville, Kentucky, had withdrawn her film “Gay Cuba,” which was one of Frameline’s best-selling films.
QUIT!, Gay Shame and friends are working on an alternative festival next June, which will showcase the work of filmmakers who have said no to Israeli apartheid. Check out these short clips:
The group has already received a small seed grant from the People’s Life Fund for the festival, dubbed Outside The Frame. Organizers hope that Outside The Frame will provide increased opportunities to let filmmakers and filmgoers know about the issue.