Sunday, May 19, 2024

Playhouse Cinema cancels Jewish Film Festival over ‘security concerns’

First Published:

Citing escalating security concerns, an independent cinema in Hamilton says it has had to postpone an upcoming film festival organized by the Hamilton Jewish Federation (HJF).

Playhouse Cinema shared the news on social media Tuesday, calling the decision “difficult” and apologizing to ticketholders.

The movie theatre, located on Sherman Avenue, has hosted several film festivals over the years and has worked with the HJF to host events in the past.

However, it says the decision to cancel the Hamilton Jewish Film Festival comes amid a rise in “security and safety related emails, phone calls and social media messages,” at a “particularly sensitive time.”

“The Playhouse Cinema’s mission is to be a welcome home to a variety of cultural groups, serving the Hamilton area through our film programming, and in offering our venue for rentals.”

The severity and type of comments the company received at this time remains unclear, but since it has made the decision to postpone the festival, many of the comment sections across its social media pages have become avenues of criticism critical of the decision.

HJF says it’s outraged by the decision.

READ MORE: Westdale Theatre reverses decision on controversial film ‘Israelism’

“In withdrawing its support of a Jewish film festival based on outrageous claims by a few individuals that any film produced in Israel is a form of ‘Zionist propaganda,’ the Playhouse Cinema is prioritizing the will of antisemites over an apolitical cultural festival that stands for artistic excellence and integrity,” the federation wrote in a statement on its website.

“The Hamilton Jewish Federation rejects this attempt to sever Jewish from Israeli identity at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s Jewish population resides in Israel and to categorize Jews into ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’.”

It went on to say that it plans to consult with its national legal task force regarding the next steps it plans to take in addressing the situation and that the festival will continue as scheduled at its own recently renovated facility later this spring.

WATCH MORE: 5 films breaking down barriers at the Hamilton Jewish Film Festival

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