A leaked internal report regarding the protests targetting Frameline has exposed clandestine arrangements between the film festival management and Israeli government officials. The report includes a series of emails that show Executive Director Kenneth C. Price colluding with Israeli consul general Akiva Tor to counter protests by anti-occupation activists targeting the 35-year old film festival. Frameline, the longest-running LGBT film festival, accepts payments from the Israeli government as sponsorship for programming Israeli films, an exchange that violates the international boycott of government-sponsored cultural and academic events from Israel. Independent Israeli artists and their work are not targeted by the call to boycott.
The private emails reveal an intimate personal relationship between Mr. Price, who has been with the San Francisco-based festival since 2008, and Mr. Tor, including discussion of film programming months before the films were officially announced. While Mr. Price was publicly defending Frameline’s practices regarding the 2011 protests to The Bay Area Reporter by insisting, ”Frameline is an arts and culture organization, and we don’t take political points of view,” his private messages show the opposite is true. In the emails, not only does Mr. Price make no attempt to divest from political bias, but that he specifically reaches out to Mr. Tor and others for assistance in fending off the attacks from QUIT. Frameline’s efforts included encouraging a vigorous public relations campaign and Mr. Price’s personal attempts to censor MUNI advertisements purchased by QUIT to raise public awareness about the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and Frameline’s complicity.
The full text of the report, including all emails, can be viewed below, or by visiting this link. Mondoweiss also published an extremely detailed analysis of the text earlier today.
The leaked report comes on the heels of other anti-“pinkwashing” organzing, including last month’s cancellation by the Seattle LGBT commission of a planned panel after concerns of pinkwashing were brought to their attention by local activists, including Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and author of “Normal Life.”
Similar manipulative relationships between corporate interests and the gay men in charge of powerful cultural organizations have been exposed in the recent past. In June 2011, Jarrett Barrios, former Executive Director of GLAAD, used GLAAD’s platform of influence to champion the interests of AT&T until it was discovered that he was working on behalf of the corporation to change public perception concerning the merger of AT&T with T-Mobile. Mr. Barrios resigned in disgrace after the coverup was revealed. A board member who was a lobbyist for AT&T also resigned shortly after it was exposed that AT&T provided the letter for Mr. Barrios, who sent it on behalf of GLAAD without alteration.
GLAAD survived the scandal, but not without massive layoffs of 25% of its staff in January 2012.
Whether Mr. Price would be forced to step down is, so far, unclear. Frameline representatives could not be reached for comment on this article prior to publication.