(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Friday, July 11, 2003
What's Going on at MUFF?

Melbourne's Underground Film Festival (MUFF), after winning the freedom of artistic expression driven court battle to screen Holocaust denialist David Irving's ironically titled The Search for Truth in History, has pulled the documentary hours before it was scheduled to screen. The reasons why have yet to fully emerge. The MUFF website simply states::

Due to safety fears tonights screening of David Irving Documentary, "The Search for Truth in History" has been cancelled. - check back soon for details.

The ABC News website has an article which includes a quote from Dominic Lokoko, co-owner of FFour (one of the venues scheduled to play the controversial documentary). Lokoko stated:
"They {MUFF organisers] informed me that the film was originally cancelled at the other venue where there was going to be the first screening because of something to do with property damage and lockouts and those kinds of things, so we didn't want anything like that happening at FFour."
The Age is also running a slightly more mysterious story, which provokes more questions than it answers. It states:
Security staff were turning patrons away from the complex [where Irving's documentary was to screen] early this evening, but were unable to say why the screening was cancelled.

MUFF director Richard Wolstencroft said organisers had been denied access to the venue from about 4pm because of fears over demonstrators.

"All kinds of ugliness has happened," he told AAP.

"It's far too scary ... we will never play another film by a historical revisionist ever again."

But Mr Wolstencroft declined to say whether MUFF organisers had received threats over its screening of the film or who had locked the cinema.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like there were very serious threats to the cinema itself, cinema personnel and possibly even broader threats than that.[see update below] While I can't say I'm hugely upset to see Irving's work not screening, I am very concerned at the tactics that seem to have been employed here to prevent the screening. Of course, my reading of these events is fairly speculative, but the concerns remain.

In drectly related news, John Howard actually made a fairly sensible statement in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding Irving and his film:
"Let me say this, I think David Irving is a poor historian when it comes to the Holocaust," he said.

"I understand why it (Irving's claim) is offensive not only to Jewish people but to others around the world who suffered in different ways because of the holocaust.

"The question of whether the film should be shown is really a matter for the authorities."
At least in this instance, I guess, Howard isn't being tempted to play an censorship. Small miricles and all that...

Updated, Friday, 11th July 8.45am>>
The MUFF website now contains a press release regarding the Irving screening being cancellled. Here is the explanation:
At 4.00pm today [Thursday 10th July] the operator of the Bughouse Omniplex informed the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) that Mr Ron Goldschalger, son of the landlord, of the building housing the Bughouse, Mr. Albert Goldschlager, had decided that after four successful screenings of MUFF at their venue they could not allow the fifth to go ahead this evening, being the David Irving film The Search for Truth in History over what was described as concerns regarding ‘safety’. The MUFF has been effectively locked out and prevented from screening the film.
MUFF has fought for freedom of speech both in our courts and in the public domain. This last minute manoeuvre by the landlord is a shock and disappointment to the Festival as are the threats against MUFF and its organisers and the behaviour of protesters.
The Festival organisers have decided to cancel the screening from the festival program as it does not have a venue that is able and willing to screen the video.
Well, I guess my earlier interpretation of substanital threats against MUFF and related cinemas and personnel might have been a bit over the top. Sounds like the BugHouse Omniplex cinema simply didn't want to buy into the controversey and lose customers in the wake of screening Irving's doco. While this seems to me quite a dissappointing way for the issue to have been resolved (really, this is something that should have been decided through public dialogue and debate!), I guess the issue is closed for now. I certainly can't see many people going out of there way to find Irving's doco in the way Margaret Pomerancz found and tried to screen Ken Park. That's all folks ...


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