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The cancelation follows massive backlash online, especially after George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot Martin, filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Martin family and other witnesses.
Zimmerman’s lawyer Larry Klayman announced the screening of The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America, a documentary by Joel Gilbert, on his website Wednesday, along with the lawsuit announcement.
A press conference regarding the lawsuit was reportedly scheduled for Thursday. The screening of Trayvon Hoax was set to follow the press conference at Coral Gables Art Cinema.
The lawsuit argues that witnesses, such as Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton and his girlfriend Rachel Jeantel, have either “known about or should have known about the witness fraud, obstructed justice, or lied repeatedly under oath in order to cover up their knowledge of the witness fraud.”
Billy Corben, a film director, tweeted criticism at Coral Gables Art Cinema for “hosting this disgraceful sham.” Corben attached a screenshot of the media advisory for the event.
“I’m not calling for a boycott—everyone can make their own decision—but I will NEVER attend another event or screening at @gablescinema after this,” Corben wrote in a follow-up tweet. “And I think their sponsors and landlords at @CityCoralGables should take a hard look at this organization.”
Shame on @gablescinema for hosting this disgraceful sham: George Zimmerman announces lawsuit against family of Trayvon Martin, publisher, prosecutors for $100 million with press conference and documentary screening at Coral Gables Art Cinema https://t.co/R2hOIjoVoN @mike23mena pic.twitter.com/V8LkdegSWC— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) December 4, 2019
Merely two hours after Corben called it out, the cinema announced it was canceling the screening.
“We’re a nonprofit, part of our revenue stream is venue rentals–private individuals and filmmakers use the cinema when we’re not showing movies,” Brenda Moe, Coral Gables Art Cinema’s executive director, told the Daily Dot on Wednesday. “Individuals can rent the cinema for private events. Those don’t go on our website, [and] we have no association.”
Coral Gables Art Cinema was not aware of all of the details surrounding this private rental and has made a decision to cancel the rental. https://t.co/bpgmbT3Df7— Coral Gables Art Cinema (@gablescinema) December 4, 2019
But many on Twitter are not buying the cinema’s alleged ignorance.
“The title of the film said it all, but cool get your publicity,” Twitter user @Misss_T_ wrote.
Right? I honestly feel like they’re jumping ship before the backlash comes— Ney 🌹 (@itsy0urs) December 4, 2019
Yall knew, you just figured no one would notice......— Mat Douglas Thinks Your FanFic Sucks (@MatPDouglas) December 4, 2019
You just pressed because you got caught
The title of the film said it all, but cool get your publicity.— The Respeck on Beyonce's check (@Misss_T_) December 4, 2019
I implore you all as @gablescinema is in fact a nonprofit organization, to reach out to the programming team, the Executive Director and board of directors as to how the "Trayvon Hoax" ft. George Zimmerman was even approved for rental. https://t.co/8Wbu34qVbt— Brittnie (@beeknightly) December 4, 2019
To be clear: what details were you aware of?— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) December 4, 2019
Moe told the Daily Dot that once the cinema learned of the documentary’s details, it decided to cancel the rental. Moe said the cinema isn’t aware of the content being screened when it comes to private screenings.
“This is part of our business model; we rent the cinema the same way as a hotel that rents out its conference rooms,” Moe said.
According to the cinema’s website, it costs $200 per hour to screen a film, with a minimum of two-hour screening required.
Moe told the Daily Dot that “no transaction” had been made. Klayman’s group had only booked the place.
“[The] only thing we were involved in was that someone wanted to use the cinema for a private event,” she said.
It’s unclear if Klayman’s group plans to screen the documentary elsewhere.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Klayman’s office.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque