The call for the cancellation of a film with alleged anti-semitic content at Documenta 15 has led curators to write an open letter, denouncing the move.
After recent allegations of anti-semitic content at the exhibition, stakeholders and board members at documenta 15 created a scientific advisory panel last month to review their content and give suggestions. The panel released its initial findings recently. A major point in the report was to seek the cancellation of Tokyo Reels Film Festival and seek action against it. The film, which is a collection of unreleased pro-Palestine videos from the 1960s-80s, was created by Subversive Film. The collective, formed in 2011, is based out of Brussels and Ramallah and is known for showcasing unreleased pro-Palestine works.
The panel denounced the film in strong terms, calling it “problematic” for having “anti-semitic and anti-Zionist” content. The panel took issue with using the term “fascist” for Israel, calling it a false equivalence to Nazi Germany. They further added that the commentary in the film (by the artist) “legitimize[s] the hatred of Israel and the glorification of terrorism in the source material through their uncritical discussion.” The panel had also criticized the entire documenta 15 for showcasing anti-Israel content.
The report was not well-received by the curators and organizers at documenta 15, who wrote an open letter to criticize it. The main point of criticism was the vague basis used by the panel to call the film ‘anti-semitic’, as well as an unclear methodology for reaching those conclusions. The letter said: “We do not accept the allegations of their preliminary report. Because we stand by our rejection of censorship, we vigorously opposed the creation of this scientific advisory panel.” The letter began with “We are angry, we are sad, we are tired, we are united”.