Czech Jewish community protests film award to Mel Gibson
On Thursday 3 July the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic issued a statement addressed to Jiří Bartoška, president of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The statement expresses their concern and regret over the decision to award the festival's Crystal Globe (Křišťálový globus) award this year to the American actor and director Mel Gibson.
Gibson authored the controversial film "The Passion of the Christ". News server Romea.cz publishes the text of the statement in full translation here:
To Whom it May Concern:
We have learned that one of the guests this year at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will be the American actor and director Mel Gibson, who will receive the Crystal Globe for exceptional artistic contribution to world cinema.
It would not be appropriate for us to evaluate the quality of Mr Gibson's films, but the awarding of this prize turns the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival into a very questionable platform, one that is slowly changing the atmosphere in our country from that of a relatively tolerant society carrying on the tradition of Masaryk's First Republic into a society in which room is made for anti-Semitic, hostile, xenophobic opinions. Recently we have witnessed the relativizing of history here and the questioning of the values on which our current democracy has been built.
We are speaking in particular here of the film "The Passion of the Christ", from 2004, which depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus. It is the opinion of unbiased commentators that this is one of the most offensive films ever made. The film presents Jews in accordance with classic stereotypes of them as bloodthirsty, evil beings exclusively responsible for the death of Jesus. Shortly before the film was released it was noted that at a time of rising anti-Semitism, Gibson's work can easily be exploited to legitimize anti-Jewish hatred.
Critical voices against inviting Mel Gibson to the Czech Republic have also been heard from abroad, where people have had more than one controversial experience with him.
We hereby express our concern and regret over the decision made by the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival this year.
chair of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic
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