Angoulême Festival of Comics Drops Sodastream

Organizers calling on the Angoulême International Festival of Comics (FIBD) to drop its partnership with the Israeli company Sodastream announced victory today in an email to the signatories of two….

Organizers calling on the Angoulême International Festival of Comics (FIBD) to drop its partnership with the Israeli company Sodastream announced victory today in an email to the signatories of two open letters that had circulated in 2014 and 2015.

Public material for the 2016 festival, which opens January 28th, 2016, contains no mention of Sodastream, either in the listing of private partners or sponsored pavilions within the festival, which is considered the most prestigious celebration of comics in the world.

Two open letters, signed by over 150 cartoonists and other workers in the cultural field of comics, were circulated in 2014 and 2015, addressed to Franck Bondoux, the director of the festival, demanding that the partnership with Sodastream, which was announced in 2014, be dropped.

The letters cited Sodastream’s complicity in ongoing Israeli human rights violations, including its factory located in the settlement zone of Mishor Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territories. Sodastream closed the factory after international pressure in 2015. Also cited was its participation in Israeli policies of discrimination and apartheid against Palestinians, including the displacement of Bedouin citizens of Israel under the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan.

Prominent signatories included Tardi (5 Angoulême prizes and 1985 Grand Prix), Lewis Trondheim (2 Angoulême prizes, 2006 Grand Prix, and creator of the FIBD mascot), Joe Sacco (Angoulême prize in 2011), Guy Delisle (Angoulême prize in 2012), Willem (2013 Angoulême Grand Prix), Peter Blegvad (Angoulême prize in 2014), Jaime Hernandez (2014 Eisner Award and 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Alison Bechdel (2014 MacArthur Fellow), Ben Katchor, Kate Beaton, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Siné, Wozniak, and many others from around the world, including many former Angoulême FIBD Grand Prix winners, as well as Palestinian and Israeli cartoonists. These letters received major media coverage, both in French (Le Monde; L’Obs) and in English (HyperAllergic; Getty Images; Comic Book Resources).

A full list of signatories, and the text to both open letters can be seen here:

A sampling of press coverage is linked to here:

This effort marks a victory for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which recently marked another major victory in France, against the French telecom company Orange, which announced it dropped its own partnership with an Israeli company, even as the BDS campaign in France comes under new legal harassment by the French state.

The announcement also comes as Angoulême FIBD is embroiled in a major controversy surrounding its selection of an all-male list of 30 cartoonists as nominees for the 2016 Grand Prix, with 12 cartoonists withdrawing their name from consideration in protest. Organizers of the Sodastream letters sent solidarity to the 2016 boycott organizers.

The full text of their announcement and statement is below:

Dear friends,

Amidst righteous anger surrounding the Angoulême FIBD selection of an all-male slate of nominees for its 2016 Grand Prix, we are happy to inform you that there is an important victory that we can all claim responsibility for: after two intense campaigns, the FIBD has dropped Sodastream as a partner for its 2016 edition.

Your support and your voices have achieved a small but tangible victory, a small but tangible signal at the dawn of the new year, to warm the hearts of people in the Gaza winter, where the heat system has not been repaired since the last deadly attack by the Israeli army. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement gives us hope.

We are so grateful for your efforts and your willingness to defend Palestinian rights, and we send our support, solidarity, and wishes of similar victory to BD égalité, organizers of the current boycott efforts surrounding Angoulême FIBD.
We now look to the rest of the comic book industry, around the world, to take note of these efforts and their outcome: together we can make a change.