Natalie Portman’s pretty in fuchsia, defends Israeli artists

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Natalie Portman arrived in Toronto on Wednesday to support her lead role in the film Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. It’s a dramedy about “a woman’s difficult relationship with her stepson”. I think it must be a really, really low-budget film, and it might not even have a distributor yet. In any case, Natalie walked the red carpet in this fuchsia-pinkish dress for the screening of the film. While I always think Natalie is one of the most beautiful women on any given red carpet, this dress… is not one of her best. I’d like to see the dress without that papery-looking flower on her boobs. But isn’t it remarkable that even in a less-than-average dress, she’s still stunning?

During the press conference for the film, Natalie was asked, as a dual Israeli citizen, how she felt about the Toronto International Film Festival’s inclusion of Tel Aviv in the “City to City” program. Background: Before TIFF was even underway, the host committee announced a 10-film spotlight on Tel Aviv, using predominantly Israeli artists. Every year TIFF chooses one city, but with the selection of Tel Aviv as the city, many high-profile artists protested, calling it a way to spotlight “”the Israeli propaganda machine”. Several artists pulled out of TIFF, complaining of Israel’s politics and the lack of corresponding Palestinian spotlight, and suggesting that including this spotlight would be, in effect, the artistic community’s endorsement of those Israeli policies.

When asked about the controversy, Natalie showed off her intelligence and class, I think:

In a roundtable interview yesterday morning for her new film Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Natalie Portman explained why she signed a letter in support of Tel Aviv’s inclusion in TIFF’s City to City program – a choice that sparked a protest from other filmmakers.

“I just think the protest was very poorly considered,” the Jerusalem-born actress said.

“I’m not saying Israel is beyond criticism, because there’s plenty in Israel’s politics that you can criticize. It’s just, why boycott artists? It’s ridiculous. If you want to talk about applauding places that are built on suffering, the United States was built on the genocide of 40 million native Americans. Are we going to boycott American films?”

“How about those slavery years?” Don Roos, the film’s writer-director, piped in.

“Yeah, that slavery was awesome too,” Portman said.

“Also there’s so much dissent in Israeli and Palestinian art, and that’s part of the spotlight. I wonder – because those people [who signed the protest letter], I respect their work – I wonder if they hastily signed that, because it seems not well thought through.”

[From The Canadian Globe & Mail]

I think Natalie’s best argument is “Why punish the artists?” If you don’t like a particular country’s politics or policies, fine. But don’t try to censor or protest the artists from that country. As far as Natalie argument about America and genocide… well… I just hope the Fox News people don’t get ahold of this transcript. Some people could really twist her words.

Here’s Natalie at TIFF last night. Images thanks to .

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34 Responses to “Natalie Portman’s pretty in fuchsia, defends Israeli artists”

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  1. ash says:

    love her.

  2. Praise St. Angie! says:

    she is beautiful, the dress is not.

  3. Rachel says:

    I love her Lanvin dress!

  4. rzrlvr says:

    The dress is too poofy for her figure.

    However, I agree. Artists are international, they should not be blamed for their country of origin, or what their government is doing. I take photographs, that does not make me responsible for Guantanamo Bay, and sending our troops to Afghanistan. It’s ridiculous to persecute.
    Having said all that…and even knowing that she’s correct about slavery, and the genocide of native americans.. I feel compelled to say…
    Natalie. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The hand being America.

  5. the original kate says:

    i agree with natalie – i think boycotting any art is ridiculous. as for natalie’s dress i think i would like it better in another color, like grey or copper.

  6. princess pea says:

    I think it was kind of silly of TIFF to choose Tel Aviv, precisely because of the controversy. It’s such a multifaceted issue, and it’s way too easy to seem like you’re taking a side even if that wasn’t your intent. However, I think that the protests should have waited until the films were revealed. It’s likely that amongst ten films at least some of them will be other than rah-rah-rah for Israel.

    I’ll be the foreigner who agrees with her point about America, too. It was foolish of her to single out the USA, though, because there isn’t a developed nation on this earth that doesn’t have some dirty shame in their past. I expect she did it that way because of her dual-citizenship; the only two countries she can really defend herself for criticizing are the ones she belongs to. The flaw in her argument is that the Native American genocide was long ago (although kind of ongoing), and the Israel-Palestine conflict is very much NOW.

  7. jen says:

    It looks like she’s holding her dress down in fears people will acuse her of being pregnant because it’s poofy.

  8. QB says:

    I love Natialie Portman and I think she is gorgeous but the hair and dress is not working for her. She looks at her best when she looks all natural and really simple.

    Is not the artist fault , thats just their reality . Everyone has a different one.

    America was built on Slavery and the slutter of millions of native americans, she is not bashing America she is just telling a part of our History as a nation.

  9. Take A CLass Nat says:

    America was not built on the genocide of 40 million native americans, there Nat. Also, where did she get that figure? That is way high. I’m not saying that there are not atrocities committed by Americans-that would be delusional-but that statement is just as poorly thought out as the boycott petition signers. Both sides fought, and both at times very viciously. There were also more NA’s killed by European diseases than anything. And it was not genocide. There was fighting, and relocation but NOT genocide.

    Also, just FYI, Americans are not the first to have slavery, far from it. Its literally thousands of years old and came to America from European practice.

    I see her point, but question her history. I realize she’s not bashing America, but her example is inaccurate. At least get the history right. And the dress. Needs to be black or something.

  10. QB says:

    I meant Slaughter.

  11. Diane says:

    “Why punish the artists,” I agree. The color is lovely, as is the print, the design, not my favorite. Natalie wears it well.

  12. blondie says:

    As a Toronto resident, I feel I need to correct a few things. First off, City to City was just introduced this year, and the reason Tel Aviv was chosen was because it’s their 100th anniversary. That’s it – no agenda (other than to showcase films), no taking sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    TIFF is about showcasing films and film makers from all over the world, but sadly, rightly or wrongly, Israel is a very touchy subject.

    Last year at TIFF, a short film was shown by an Israeli film maker about two men, one Jewish, one Arab, who had side-by-side restaurants. This film showed how they not only got along, but were able to co-exist peacefully. If only everyone could see eye to eye…

  13. CandyKay says:

    I doubt that the Toronto artists would have objected if to a Shanghai film festival, despite what the Chinese government is doing RIGHT NOW in Tibet and to the Uighurs.

    China is trendy, Israel is not.

  14. mxml says:

    genocide of 40 million native americans? most of them died of diseases, not from mass murder. not that it wasn’t a great atrocity. regardless, i agree with her that you should not punish the artists and maybe there will be some dissenting voices of Israeli politics in the films that are showcased.

    but isn’t part of the point of the protest that there is no Palestinian spotlight and that is why it seems like a slanted perspective?

  15. Praise St. Angie! says:

    QB, I actually liked “slutter” better. 😉

    EDIT: just noticed her earrings…so pretty!

  16. the original kate says:

    “genocide of 40 million native americans? most of them died of diseases, not from mass murder.”

    yeah, diseases that we gave them, sometimes intentionally. smallpox infected blankets = murder.

  17. Samantha says:

    Twist her words? That is exactly what happened. I know we like to pretend that things such as the Trail of Tears never existed, but it did, along with a whole LOT of other crap that we did to basically destroy a number of tribes. I fak’n hate it when people say, “oh, its not comparable”, blah blah. Of course not, because you aren’t Native American. Jewish people are all over the holocaust and African Americans are all over slavery but oh wait, there aren’t enough of my ancestors to have a powerful lobby and cry foul about the past.

  18. Cath says:

    Samantha, I’m not Native American but I’m in law school and I hope to lobby for that very thing some day!

  19. yae says:

    “I wonder if they hastily signed that, because it seems not well thought through.”

    Ewww, That was incredibly condescending Natalie.

  20. Maritza says:

    I think she looks adorable and that dress is beautiful.

  21. TwinkleToes says:

    Samantha, right with you girl. I couldn’t care less about Israeli politics and such because it isn’t my legacy. Good for Natalie, go move there and happy new year to you girl.

    I’d be impressed if she spoke out about a cause that isn’t so ethnocentric, ya know?

    My name is Natalie and I am Israeli and Jewish and that’s all I care about, blah, blah, blah.

    She reminds me of the kind of person who would stand up for someone just because they are Jewish even if she feels they are wrong. I really can’t stand those ethnocentric type people.

  22. sarah says:

    Just to play devils advocate, in defense of those that signed the letter.

    It is nearly impossible to boycott a government. Instead, boycotts are used against the products or services supplied by the people under that government, in the hopes that they will pressure their politicians to make change.

    Take for example to boycott against South Africa’s cricket team during apartheid. This could have been considered “punishing” the sportsmen, but it is widely understood that such boycotts had quite a lot of impact in overthrowing the regime. I’m not say that will be the case with TIFF and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but one cant just dismiss boycotts as punishment of the individuals involved.

    Any form of boycott could be considered to be “punishing” individuals (be they artists, manufacturers, investors, sportsmen etc) but the aim is to send a broader message, and it is one of the few avenues available to individuals to protest to behavior of those in another state, especially when their own government is unwilling or unable to voice a protest.

    @ CandyKay: In Melbourne we recently had a film festival, and despite mysterious “hackers” attacking the website, and official protests from the Chinese government, the festival still invited an exciled Uighur leader (visa provided by the Australian government) and aired a film about the problems there. This despite Australia’s close ties to China.

    @Take a class Nat: I did… admittedly at an Australian university, but perhaps that makes it less likely to be bias. The treatment of Native Americans can be classified as genocide (see next answer). Also, she didnt say that slavery was American. She commented on how horrible it was (ironically).

    @mxml: genocide is not defined only by mass murder, but through deliberate causation of illness (causing death), sterilisation, the denial of ancestry and more. (according to the United Nations definition) It was genocide.

    Sorry to get nitpicky… im a pol sci and history major and this stuff just gets me really riled up!

  23. For Sooth? says:

    CandyKay – So true. It is trendy to dump on Israel, and let me add that I don’t have a dog in the fight.

    Nation building has almost always been built on power, greed and violence. I think it’s because we have become a nation of “mea culpa, mea culpa”, which I believe weakens us, that we forget that there are nations out there today that have to defend themselves every day against very real danger with extreme prejudice. The alternative is annihilation. If Russia rises again with Putin’s vision realized look out world. It won’t be for the faint of heart or people who are so quick to apologize to other nations for seemingly being the sole responsible nation for global warming or to hand holding with Saudi leaders because they control the oil and thus control us. Will our nation behave like it’s been deballed? Right now that’s what it looks like to me. You thought we were a laughing stock with Bush – You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I don’t think that Putin will take the race baiting tactic that has become the knee jerk response when people disagree with this administrations policies and lack of oversight. Chicago better come up with a better strategy then “Hmmm. . . by the way, Obama’s black.” Nice to be able to pull the race card as the ace in the hole EVERY frickin’ time. But against Putin!!??? Not so much.

  24. Luci says:

    love Nat. Portman
    but dont support the TIFF’s decisicion to advertise Tel Aviv

  25. lio says:

    @For Sooth?:
    you gorgot your medication, my dear. Take your pills and every things are goint to be ok

  26. TwinkleToes says:

    Oh, Sarah, you didn’t attend college, did you?

  27. TwinkleToes says:

    No, your boyfriend is the poli sci major, Sarah.

  28. Trillion says:

    Thanks Sarah. To think killing off Native Americans and destroying their culture is NOT genocide is misinformed. The BIA finally kinda sorta apologized in 2000 but it didn’t get much traction.
    Australia and the U.S. have a lot in common, I think, both good and bad things.

  29. the original kate says:

    @ twinkletoes: i am confused by your post. first you say you have no interest in isaeli politics because it isn’t your legacy and then you slam people who are jewish and speak for israel, which is their legacy. so then when, according to you, IS is ok to speak out? as far as natalie, she is an outspoken animal activist who started a line of vegan shoes. see? it isn’t always about israel.

  30. skeptical says:

    why is it so trendy to crap on Israel?

    but not ok to talk about what Israelis suffer?

  31. mama says:

    i love natalie portman.

    i love jews, and i love israel, too.
    i love animals, and art and humanity.


  32. Israeli says:

    Boycotts? Lol. The false analogy of South African apartheid is just another use of buzzwords to elicit more mindless bandwagoning of Israel.

    People were boycotting the Zoinists before Israel even existed. The West is oblivious as to how they are being used by the desert tribes which have bought out your universities.

    when’s the last time Canada had a suicide bombing? Eh? Never. I support peace, let’s put all the Palestinians in 1,000 C-130s, dump them over Toronto, and you can co-exist. I’m sick and tired of self-important liberal apologists lobby on behalf of trolls and Arab gangsters. When you lose a child like I have to terror-sponsoring states get back to me.

    Israel is an outpost of democracy and freedom, and slowly but surely it is dwarfing the integrity of so-called Western regions like Canada and Europe.

    Get over your hate, it is a state of mind. Don’t hide behind a thin-veil of activism shouting “apartheid.” Disgusting.

  33. itchy beard says:

    Sarah – excellent points. I only just happened to come across this news and must admit I’m not aware of all the issues involved yet, but I haven’t been quite convinced by the rebuttal from Portman et al. That’s not to say the protesters were right, but I just don’t think the celebrities on the other side of it have formulated a decent counterpoint. Their argument seems to make somewhat of a strawman of what the protesters are complaining about.

    I love your ‘take a class’ diss :D. I have to admit, I just don’t understand how Portman is so widely, unquestioningly celebrated for her intelligence. She seems to constantly come out with pseudo-intellectual, under-informed, poorly argued and even somewhat ditsy remarks.

    She is fast becoming the queen of poor analogies, e.g. with her recent article on veganism. While I do think people went overboard saying she equated meat-eating with rape, I do think it was offensive saying being anti-rape is a belief (not to mention the fact that signing a pro-Polanski petition is terrifying close to her hypothetical scenario of condoning rape because your dinner guests do). But what really struck me was, despite her somewhat intelligent way of expressing herself, her poor sense of logic in constructing an argument (and I say this as a very committed vegetarian myself, so it is not that I am not sympathetic to the issues). For example, one friend of hers did seem to have health problems that could be directly attributed to a polluted water supply (if Portman is being honest), but we are only told the other has asthma and is from Iowa. This automatically means animal shit has caused her condition?!?

    While she is copping a LOT of flak for her recent article, I’m amazed at how many similarly problematic things she’s said seem to have slipped by the radar of the general public (including myself). I admire outspoken individuals, but prefer them to really know what they are talking about. I also find her arrogance off-putting – patronisingly saying their protest was poorly considered then making such an ill-considered argument herself.

    P.S. I really hate to play grammar police (God knows mine is far from perfect), but it is ‘biased’ not ‘bias’ in adjectival form. It’s just that it’s the second time I’ve read ‘bias’ instead of ‘biased’ from an Australian today and I had previously thought this type of mistake (dropping the ‘ed’ from adjectives like biased, prejudiced) had not been picked up here.

  34. Gin says:

    Yeah, those cultural boycotts against South Africa were so anti-South African.

    For an intelligent lady, Portman’s quoted remarks on this are pig ignorant.