The Odeon group has said it will not refuse entry to men to a film being screened as part of the London Israeli Film Festival.
Israeli Charedi film-maker Rechy Elias said she did not want men to see her historical romance, Gift of Fire.
Venues JW3 and the Odeon cinema in Swiss Cottage had agreed to a female only audience despite complaints from men who have requested to see the film. But, Odeon has now decided to lift the restriction. A spokesman said:
We offer a wide range of films throughout the year for all our guests to enjoy. We do not, and will not, restrict entry to any film based on gender.
Festival organisers responded to the Odeon statement by saying they:
Will stand outside the cinema and stop men from going in if we have to.
Update: Screening pulled
13th June 2015. See article
In response to the Odeon deciding not to enforce gender segregation, the co-founders of the festival, Odelia Haroush, Anat Koren and Patty Hochmann released a joint statement saying they were withdrawing the film. They said:
We could not accommodate Mrs Elias's religious requirements and enable the cinema to maintain its policy not to restrict entry to any film based on gender.
The film contains women dancing and singing, and the Charedi community, and indeed many religious Jews, do not feel that men should be watching this.
We respect the position of the filmmaker and the cinema alike, but have decided at this time we need to honour both parties and the only way to do so is to cancel the screening at Odeon Swiss Cottage.