Late on Sunday, the Municipality of Ramallah canceled the screening of Lebanese-French director Ziad Doueiri's film The Insult, which was set to close the Palestinian Days of Cinema Festival on Monday.
According to Ma'an News, the municipality asked the festival's organizers to cancel the screening after the BDS movement and several other activists launched a campaign against it, accusing Doueiri of normalizing relationships with Israel.
The filmmaker had visited Israel using his French passport in 2012 and stayed in the territory during the filming of his feature film, The Attack.
The film caused quite the stir at the time of its release and was banned from screening in several countries across the Arab world because it was shot in the occupying state.
Days of Cinema responds
In their response to the controversy, the festival's organizers issued a statement on the matter.
"Film Lab Palestine, the founder of Days of Cinema Film Festival, welcomes the statement issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) on its official position from the Lebanese film "The Insult" by Ziad Doueiri. PACBI emphasized the distinguished cultural contribution of Days of Cinema and its clear position that Doueiri's latest film is not subject to the current guidelines of BDS and is therefore not "boycottable," the statement read.
"'The Insult' was selected for this year's edition of the festival, since it addresses an important issue for the Palestinian people and because of the participation of the veteran Palestinian actor and son of Occupied Jerusalem, Kamel El Basha. For his role in "The Insult", El Basha received the Best Actor Award from this year's edition of Venice Film Festival - the first Arab actor to achieve this victory in the history of the festival," it added.
The organizers are set to explain further details on the cancellation of the film's screening in a press conference set to be held at 7:00 PM on Monday.
People are divided over the cancellation
Many were all for it
"Your film will not be screened here."
"I stand with BDS, always. The film will not be screened."
Others had a different opinion though
"We don't support normalizing relationships with Israel and we're not against the BDS movement, but we couldn't find a reason to boycott 'The Insult.'"
"The Insult" opened to critical acclaim last month
The film premiered last month and opened to rave reviews. It also earned Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha a Volpi Cup for best actor at the Venice Film Festival.
Set in modern-day Beirut, The Insult revolves around a minor argument that erupts between Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, and eventually escalates into an intense legal battle that becomes a matter of public opinion.
Hailed by critics "as a fascinating, parable-like exploration of the tension between two facets of Lebanon’s Arab community", the film depicts the "effect of historical trauma on modern Lebanese society".
The Insult has also been officially selected to represent Lebanon at the 90th Academy Awards.