Melissa Barrera, Indy Moore Join – The Hollywood Reporter contentnexus4u

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Traffic on Main Street in Park City came to a complete halt on a busy Sunday afternoon during the Sundance Film Festival as several hundred Palestinian protesters — among them actors Melissa Barrera and Indya Moore — packed the sidewalk to chant “free Palestine” and “stop the genocide.”

Pose star Moore, in town for the festival premiere of Ponyboi, took the microphone at one point to say, “I’m gay as — God forgive me — fuck. I love everybody. I love people. I have Israeli friends. I have Jewish friends. I have Palestinian friends. Everybody sees what’s happening. They all agree. There needs to be a ceasefire. Stop telling us to hate each other. Stop telling us they hate each other. They also know that the Palestinian children that have been murdered are not responsible for freeing the hostages right now. That’s just the truth, right? The children are innocent.”

As Barrera looked on, Moore continued by saying, “If you care about life, if you care about dignity, if you care about freedom, you care about the self-determination of everybody.” Though members of the LGBTQ community often face violence, persecution and death in Palestine, Moore offered a counter by saying, “This is about life. That’s why I’m here. I’m trans, right? It’s about love. … We’re actually trying to lean in.” She then said, “Free Palestine is about equality for everybody.”

On a wintry afternoon, with snow flurries and temperatures in the mid-30s, the scene unfolded directly in front of Park City mainstay Main Street Pizza & Noodle, as the crush of protesters crashed up against festival attendees trying to make their way up and down the busy block for screenings, panels, lunches and events. At one point, Chrissy Teigen was seen walking toward the protest trailed by an entourage.

Barrera’s appearance comes after she was fired from the Scream franchise for her social media posts about the Israel-Gaza conflict. The Palestinian supporter has said she’s since had an “awakening” that has led her to become who she is “supposed to be” in life. She is in Park City for the premiere of her new film, Your Monster.

Utah state troopers and Park City police teamed up to monitor the scene that, at times, grew tense as a handful of Israeli supporters stood opposite the Palestinian protesters to chant “bring them home” as a reference to the hostages being held since the Nova music festival. Other people were heard booing the Palestinian protesters and attempting to drown out their chants of “resistance is justified when people are occupied.”

News of the planned protest broke on Friday with a social media post promoting “Let Gaza Live” invited interested parties to Main Street for a march to a demonstration to start at 12:30 p.m on Sunday. “Park City is home to the largest indie film fest in the U.S.; tens of thousands travel across the globe to attend the event. While we do not take issue with Sundance as a whole, we aim to let spectators & news reporters know that Utah stands with Palestine,” read the Instagram post.

The protest is not affiliated with the Sundance Film Festival. The Palestinian Solidarity Association of Utah noted that security at the protest will be handled by a Utah-based org, Armed Queers of Salt Lake City. Park City Police Department will provide security as needed.

“We have also been made aware of the demonstration and its commitment to maintaining a peaceful environment,” the Sundance Institute offered in a statement at the time. “While the organizers are non-affiliated with the Festival itself, the safety and security of our festival goers is always of concern to us, and we consistently work with local law enforcement to uphold an environment that is welcoming, inspiring and secure for all our attendees.”

Calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas War and protests surrounding the conflict have seen participation from those in the entertainment industry since the outset of the conflict. Several days ago, an organization called Film Workers for Palestine released an open letter calling for “filmmakers and cinema workers to stand for an end to genocide and for a free Palestine,” according to the website. Signatories include filmmakers and performers with projects at the Sundance.

As is so often the case at Sundance, the social, political and cultural environment is reflected on big screens and via programming with events, panels, protests and gatherings.

On Friday evening, the hostage initiative Bring Them Home partnered with an Evening of Solidarity event in Park City. According to event organizer Jacob Shwirtz, the event lasted three hours and was something he “will never forget as long as I live,” per his Instagram. It served to shine a spotlight on the hostages being held since they were captured Oct. 7 by militant group Hamas while attending the Nova music festival.

“We succeeded in bringing the story of the hostage crisis to the center of the Sundance Film Festival,” he posted. “There were tears and hugs and emotion and stories, and I truly believe it was an unforgettable, powerful experience.”

Actress Emmanuelle Chriqui offered words during the program by saying, “We are mighty, and there is so much being done. Tonight, you walk away amplifying all of these messages so that we bring them home now.”

Filmmaker Allison Norlian attended and also shared thoughts on Instagram, writing, “Last night, instead of attending another screening, party or panel, we gathered in solidarity with the hostages and their families. We listened to the parents and brother of two hostages still being held in Gaza and one woman who escaped the Nova music festival. It was emotional and raw, and my heart is broken for all these people have been through and continue to go through.”

Another event that put a spotlight on Israel came courtesy of the Shabbat Lounge which hosted a Filmmakers Against Anti-Semitism panel discussion on Sunday in partnership with the Jewish Filmmaker Network.

Other protests that have hit Park City during the Sundance Film Festival include the Women’s March in 2017, attended and organized by Chelsea Handler, and a Red State protest outside the premiere of the Kevin Smith film.

More to come.



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