Witness Palestine Film Festival moves online

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Organizers of the Witness Palestine Film Festival say the show must go on.

The film event was originally postponed by The Little Theater on Monday, due to threats relating to tensions overseas. Now, it’s taking place in the virtual realm.

For the past 13 years, the festival has taken place at The Little. Films show the Palestinian life and struggle. That is until this year, when the theater decided it was too much of a safety concern.

The Little made the decision to postpone, “after serious discussion and consultation with festival organizers.”

In a statement, they say they support Jewish and Palestinian communities, and unequivocally condemn violence.

Jonathan Khoury, Palestinian-American and organizing member of the festival, said The Little informed them of the postponement, only ahead of sending out a press release.

He says this was disappointing, and feels silenced.

On the other hand, some on social media are expressing support for the theater, saying they’re on board with the caution.

Khoury said the threats towards the theater seem to be nuanced, having to do with harassment, and withdrawing membership.

The theater would not specify details.

“These threats are intended to do exactly what we are seeing across the nation — they are intended to silence us, shut down these events, and they are intended to really direct the narrative of Palestinian solidarity in such a way that it is unable to express itself accurately,” said Khoury.

Khoury said he has family in Palestine, and they’ve been keeping in touch over group chats. He said that thankfully, they are not in the danger zones.

“There’s an active genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, we have a call for cease-fire internationally,” he said. “And we would see it as a disservice to not honor the dates we already selected moving forward with this film festival.”

The Little was declined an interview, but said they support the festival and are interested in hosting again.

Dates remain the same: Oct. 21 and 22 at 3 p.m., and Oct. 28 and 29 at 3 p.m.

A watch party will also be held at UUU Art Collective in Rochester.

Head to wpff.us to register.