* Ben Child
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 July 2010 12.17 BST
Hollywood actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman cancelled plans to attend the Jerusalem film festival following Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine dead earlier this year, an official has told the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
Yigal Molad Hayo – associate director of the Jerusalem Cinemateque, the main venue for the event – said neither actor had cited the international outcry over the country’s actions as a reason for pulling out of the annual festival, but added: “It became quite clear that this was the reason.”
“Meg Ryan was supposed to come here – it had all been closed with her people,” he told the Post. “A day after the flotilla incident we got an email saying she was not going to attend, and although they claimed it was because she was too busy it was clear to me that it probably had something to do with what had happened.”
Hayo added: “We were very close to reaching an agreement with [Hoffman], then the flotilla happened and correspondence was ended.”
The two-week festival, which opens tomorrow, will nevertheless play host to some 150 international guests including heads of other international festivals, actors, producers and directors. It will debut around 50 Israeli movies, documentaries and short films. More than 70,000 people are expected to attend.
Hayo said the festival remained keen to help Israeli and Palestinian film-makers work together. “We are well-known for encouraging cooperation between Palestinian and Israelis in the area of film,” he said.
The Jerusalem film festival has been running since 1984, when the pioneering art-film programmer and archivist Lia van Leer decided to set up an event in her home country after serving as a jury member in Cannes.