DOC Calls for Divestment

26 avril 2024

The National Board of the Documentary Organization of Canada supports the international call for divestment from arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, whose weapons are being used to perpetrate what United Nations experts have called a genocide in Palestine.

Over the past several months, Israeli military attacks have killed over 34,685 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and tens of thousands are already suffering from famine. We call upon Hot Docs to urge its Platinum sponsor, Scotiabank, to divest from Elbit Systems: Israel’s biggest arms manufacturer. Elbit provides 85% of the Israeli Defense Force’s land-equipment and drones, manufactures munitions for Israel, and helps to maintain border and detention services for the Israeli Military of Interior. Scotiabank retains a $400 million investment in Elbit Systems and this Canadian bank is the largest individual foreign shareholder of Elbit Systems stocks.

Public pressure on Scotiabank appears to have had an impact, as negative publicity around Scotiabank’s Elbit ties has coincided with a reduction in their stake from 5.1% to 4.3% in 2023 – the first time that investment had been touched in ten years. DOC joins widespread calls for Hot Docs to use its position to pressure Scotiabank to divest from Elbit Systems Ltd.

We recognize that Hot Docs is facing unprecedented financial challenges. As the organization that founded Hot Docs, we know the extraordinary labours and community efforts that built this cultural institution. And we believe that Hot Docs’ future is one in which the festival stands with divestment. Our call to Hot Docs is because this festival has been a crucial annual gathering for so many of our members for thirty years, and we believe that its survival, like that of our collective survival, is tied to centering the values of social justice, equity and human rights.

As documentary filmmakers, many of our films and life goals are directed towards speaking truth to power. The festival that we love boasts the tagline ‘Outspoken’. This cannot just be a word, there are actions behind words like these that fulfill their meaning. Right now, thousands of Palestinians are being bombed, shot at and surveilled with arms tied to Canadian arts funder Scotiabank. Death, destruction and imminent starvation – violations of international human rights – are funding North America’s largest documentary festival. At this key political moment, as documentary filmmakers, we understand that silence is not neutral and we must speak out.