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As of Thursday, the documentary film group Cinema Politica has learned that it will not be welcomed back to the Old Woods Hole Firehouse, a publicly-owned building administered by the Woods Hole Community Association. After three months of mediation, negotiations for the film screenings to return to the Firehouse broke down when the WHCA refused to consider a non-discrimination policy for users of the building. Cinema Politica had also offered to include a disclaimer on its advertising, absolving the WHCA of any responsibility for the content of the films screened at the Firehouse. Although Cinema Politica entered into the mediation on good faith, the process failed to establish the group's right to show films without fear of censorship-or pressure to self-censor.
We're sorry to inform you that the Woods Hole Community Association sent a letter last week informing us that we are not invited to rent the Firehouse during July and August-- and only after a hearing in September will they consider renting to us again. At issue is our decision to screen five films over the past year and a half regarding the human rights situation in Palestine-- most recently, our June 4 screening of "Occupation 101." Since last year, we have been hearing that some members of the the WHCA Board of Directors take issue with these documentaries. But in our discussions with the Community Association co-presidents, we have not been able to find out what their concerns are or how our groups could work together to resolve our differences. We have invited WHCA members to come to the films and take part in discussion-- which we feel would be a first step in relieving tensions, by getting the debate out into the open. As far as we know, nobody who has a problem with these films has attended any screenings; instead, the Board has seen fit to ban us from the Firehouse. If this update concerns you, there are two things you can do: sign our petition and send emails to the WHCA co-presidents: Catherine Bumpus at catherinebumpus@aol.com Steve Junker at junker@thoughtballoon.org.
For over a year, Cinema Politica-Woods Hole has been in discussions with the Woods Hole Community Association-- the group that rents us the Firehouse-- regarding the "concerns" the WHCA has with films regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Given the events surrounding the Free Gaza flotilla (and the local connection, due to the presence of a local woman on board one of the ships), we held a screening of "Occupation 101" on June 4. The following is a letter in response to the WHCA co-presidents' email, questioning why they were not warned of the screening in advance. June 5, 2010 To the Woods Hole Community Association Board of Directors: As you are aware, we held a screening of "Occupation 101" at the Firehouse on Friday, June 4. It was one of our most well-attended screenings, with people of all ages filling over 50 seats. We made the decision to screen this film on Tuesday, given the spotlight on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the IDF raid on the Free Gaza flotilla on Monday. As is the case with any documentary screening, Cinema Politica tries to tie in its programming with events in the news. We felt that showing this film would provide critical context for why the boats were attempting to break the Gaza blockade in the first place.