Israel: Anger over film about Yitzhak Rabin killer

A close-up of Yigal Amir Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yigal Amir, seen here in 2007, is serving a life sentence for Yitzhak Rabin's assassination

The Jerusalem Film Festival's decision to show a documentary about the man who killed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is causing controversy.

Beyond the Fear looks at the prison life of Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for Rabin's assassination in 1995. It's the last work of celebrated Latvian-born documentary director Herz Frank, who died during filming, and is due to be screened at the festival in July. But many Israelis are outraged that it focuses not on Amir's crime, but rather on his personal life, Ynet website reports. The film includes interviews with Amir's wife, Larisa Trimbovler, who married him in jail, and footage of the prisoner reading bedtime stories by telephone to his young son.

The documentary has faced criticism from across the political spectrum in Israel. Former President Shimon Peres, a colleague and friend of Rabin's, says it's an "attempt to legitimise a heinous murderer", and the country's culture minister wants an inquiry. Rabin's granddaughter, Noa Rothman, has accused the filmmakers of a "cynical use of the freedom of expression with intent to harm it".

So far the festival's selection committee has stood by its decision. It says that while it does not agree with the "outrageous stance" of the film, the screening is important because it "stirs acute debate over the borders of representation in documentary films". The decision has the support of Jerusalem's municipal authority, which part-funds the festival. "We do not censor, and the events we support do not submit scripts to us for approval," the municipality told Ynet.

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