Photo of a press conference in the middle of a residential street in Toronto on an overcast day. Posters say "No Arms in the Arts" and "Scotiabank Funds Genocide"
Launch presser for the No Arms In The Arts Campaign, March 26, 2024. Photo: Yuula Benivolski.

Artists Call on Hot Docs’ Sponsor Scotiabank to Divest from Israeli Weapons Maker Elbit

A group of artists, including filmmakers showing their work at Hot Docs, are calling out Scotiabank, a major funder of the arts, including Hot Docs. Scotiabank is the largest foreign investor in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons maker, which supplies the Israeli military for its assault on Gaza.

“Artists will not accept their work being used to artwash Israel’s genocidal campaign against Palestinians,” author and illustrator Michael DeForge with the The No Arms In The Arts campaign tells The Grind.

The campaign launched on Mar. 26 at a press conference outside of Hot Docs just after a press conference inside the theatre announcing the festival line-up.

Documentarian Brett Story, whose film Union is showing at the festival, says “This campaign is about channelling our power as artists — in this case, as inadvertent producers of cultural credibility for a corporate bank — to pressure that bank to disinvest from Israeli military weapons. To say to Scotiabank no, you cannot be considered an ambassador of the arts in our city and continue to fund weapons used in the occupation, displacement, and murder of Palestinians. We as artists will not allow it.”

Hot Docs recently indicated it is in financial trouble. The filmmakers involved in the campaign are not pulling their films nor are they discouraging people from attending the festival, instead applying pressure on Scotiabank..

Hot Docs did not respond to The Grind’s questions about whether they had asked Scotiabank to divest from Elbit.

This article appeared in the 2024 May/June issue.