French cinema chain cancels Israeli film, replaces with one on Rachel Corrie

The news website France-Info reported late on 4 June that a French cinema chain decided to cancel screenings of an Israeli film, Leon Prudovsky’s Five Hours From Paris to protest Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May which killed at least 9 and injured dozens of humanitarian activists attempting to break the blockade of Gaza.

The report states (my translation):

The feature film is supposed to open on 23 June in about forty cinemas in France. The film has no connection with the political and military events of recent days, but for several days the cancelations have been mounting. In canceling this feature, the Utopia network of cinemas intends to register a protest.

Le Monde adds (my translation):

Utopia, which has cinemas in Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Toulouse decided to show instead the film Rachel (2008), a documentary by Simone Bitton dedicated to Rachel Corrie, the 22-year-old American peace activist crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003 as she attempted to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes.

The canceled film Five Hours from Paris is a romantic comedy about an Israeli who dreams of visiting Paris, but must overcome his fear of flying. Ironically, 1.5 million Palestinians have been imprisoned in the Gaza Strip for four years (and they are also afraid of flying Israelis, albeit in F-16s), and are virtually banned from traveling for almost any purpose, including study or family reunification. Hundreds have died due to long delays or refusals of permits to leave Gaza for urgently needed medical care. Few Palestinians in Gaza — where 80 percent of the population are refugees — can ever dream of a holiday in Paris.

Moroccan-born Simone Bitton, who emigrated to Israel with her family as a child in 1966, previously made Wall among other films.

Early on 5 June, Israeli forces hijacked a ship named for Rachel Corrie, with activists including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire and aid supplies aboard, as it attempted to break the blockade of Gaza.

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