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Frankfurt cinema cancels event for Golda Meir film: “Serious safety concerns” |

There is trouble in Frankfurt surrounding the film “Golda” about Israel’s first female prime minister: a preview with a conversation with contemporary witnesses was planned, which turned into a simple preview and ultimately was completely canceled.

The film has blockbuster potential: based on a true story, the main character is a powerful personality, and the leading role is a Hollywood star. “Golda – Israel’s Iron Lady” is a film about Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel, played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren.

A cinema would normally not miss the preview of such a film, but the Frankfurt arthouse cinema Harmonie canceled it this week. There are different accounts of how this came about. In general, a lot of things are not entirely clear in this case.

Controversial contemporary witness

The preview was initiated by the Zionist Organization Rhein/Main (ZO), and other Jewish organizations co-invited. Planned and in the cinema program preview announced (PDF, page 8) was a preview including a conversation with contemporary witness David Schiller on May 7th – about three weeks before the cinema release in Germany.

This contemporary witness has apparently brought critics into the spotlight. David Schiller not only took part as a soldier in the Six-Day War between Israel and neighboring Arab states in 1967. He later made a name for himself as an author and consultant on the topics of firearms, security and counterterrorism.

It appears that no contemporary witness or interlocutor from the Arab side was planned.

Organizer: No concerns with the police

Apparently the reactions to this invitation caused the Harmonie Cinema to back down. In an email to Daniel Hofmann from the Zionist Organization, which is available to the hr, cinema director Dimitrios Charistes wrote that he was receiving increasing criticism of Schiller and his positions. Neither he nor the film distributor Weltkino were aware that this could happen when they were planning the preview.

There are serious safety concerns among individual employees, which he takes very seriously, Charistes wrote. That’s why we ask that Schiller be disinvited from the preview. It is unclear whether there were any specific threats against the cinema or the employees.

Daniel Hofmann from the Zionist Organization said in an interview with the hr that this request was “grindingly” complied with. The police confirmed to him that they did not expect any increased danger surrounding the planned preview. The police have not yet responded to an HR request.

“No room for critical dialogue”

Completely unexpectedly for Hofmann, as he says, the cancellation of the entire event came on Tuesday of this week. The wording of the reasoning is similar to a written statement that Christopher Bausch, operator of the arthouse cinemas in Frankfurt, to which Harmonie belongs, also sent to the hr.

Elderly woman with a glass and a cigarette in her hand

The planned preview, which was not initiated by the cinema itself, “no longer does justice to our own discourse ideas,” wrote Bausch. “We always want to offer a space for diversity of opinions, open exchange and critical dialogue,” the statement continues.

“Since we can no longer guarantee this maxim of our discourse concept for the special event in question, we have to cancel an event without replacement,” informed Bausch. The film itself will open as planned on May 30th in one of the arthouse cinemas.

“Faced with a fait accompli”

NicoleFactor from the Jewish women’s organization Wizo, who invited people to the preview, cannot understand the reason for the cancellation, as she says. Contrary to their own statement, the filmmakers are “unwilling to really seek dialogue.” ZO representative Daniel Hofmann puts it more sharply: “They have presented us with a fait accompli.”

The email with the final cancellation of the event ends with the note: “We will cancel all purchased tickets and transfer the money directly back to the guests.” Bausch declined to speak to the hr about the allegations, citing the written statement.

Further information

Broadcast: hr1, May 2nd, 2024, 4:10 p.m

End of further information

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