film 'Get Out' Producer Booed Off Stage at Israeli Film Festival for Criticising Trump
Jason Blum is one of Hollywood’s biggest film producers, known for taking risks in the horror genre and with more adventurous independent films. This has been a good year for him: he saw one film he produced, Get Out, nominated for best picture at the Oscars and another, BlacKkKlansman, win the Cannes grand prix.
On Tuesday night, as midterm election results were still coming in, he received another honour for his trophy cabinet, this time from the Israel film festival in Los Angeles.
Blum, who is of Jewish heritage, was given the festival’s achievement in film and television award. He began his acceptance speech with some light criticism of Donald Trump, saying: “A lot is on the line, the last two years have been hard for all of us who cherish the freedom as citizens of this country. The great thing about this country is that you can like Trump, but I don’t have to, and I can say what I feel about it – and I don’t like it!”
He was met with thunderous jeers and boos from the audience. He tried to speak over them. “As you can see from this auditorium, it’s the end of civil discourse,” he said. “We have a president who calls the press the enemy of the people. Thanks to our president, antisemitism is on the rise.”
At one point a man came up from the audience and tried to pull Blum off the stage. He was later identified by Variety as Yossi Dina, a pawnbroker to the rich and famous who starred on the reality TV show Beverly Hills Pawn.
Eventually Blum was led of the stage by a member of the festival’s staff. A host for the evening tried to diffuse the situation by saying “How about those Dodgers?” as boos and chants of “We love Trump!” continue
That evening on Twitter, Blum said the night had gone “haywire” and tweeted the full version of the speech he had been unable to finish.
Some of Blum’s contemporaries tweeted in defence of his comments. Judd Apatow wrote: “Shame on that crowd for booing Jason Blum. Trump’s racism inspired a murderer last week. In the aftermath he continued to incite racism and hatred of the free press. He believes there are good Nazis. We need a president who inspires love and compassion.”
Jamie Lee Curtis, who stars in Blum’s recent sequel in the Halloween franchise, said she stood with and applauded Blum, adding that she shared his concerns.
The director of the festival, Meir Fenigstein, said in a statement on Wednesday that audience members “greatly lacked respect” and “turned an evening of celebration and recognition into something else”. He added it was the first time the festival had experienced “anything like this” and he was “in total shock”.
The festival insisted that it did not remove Blum from the stage to stop him speaking, but that a festival security guard had led him off the stage “to protect him when an audience member in no way associated with the festival charged the podium”.
One of Blum’s biggest successes has been the Purge franchise – films based on the concept of a 12-hour period where all crime is legal. This year, Blum said he was finding the films less and less fantastical: “If every time there’s a shooting in the United States, the government’s answer is put more guns in people’s hands, then what The Purge is showing doesn’t seem all that crazy,” he told Variety.
He made the comments before the shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a tragedy Trump said could have been prevented if there had been armed guards present.