Film Festival: After statements about the Gaza war: Berlinale distances itself

Film Festival: After statements about the Gaza war: Berlinale distances itself

At the Berlinale, many artists were able to agree on their stance on the war in the Middle East. In doing so, they fed the accusation that the cultural sector was anti-Israel. The film festival defends itself.

The Berlinale has distanced itself from the statements made by individual filmmakers about the war in the Middle East at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening. “The statements made by prize winners are independent, individual opinions. They do not in any way reflect the festival’s stance,” a Berlinale spokeswoman told the German Press Agency when asked. “As long as they stay within the legal limits, we have to accept them,” it continued. The Berlinale understands that the statements made by some award winners were “perceived as too one-sided” – but also pointed out that expressions of opinion at cultural events cannot and should not be fundamentally prevented.

During the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, several award winners commented on the Gaza war in a way that caused criticism. According to critics, what was particularly striking was that many of those involved on stage made one-sided accusations against Israel without mentioning the terrorist attack by the Islamist Hamas on October 7, 2023 or calling for the Israeli hostages to be returned. Only the co-director of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek, had taken a different tone: “We call on Hamas to release the hostages immediately and we call on Israel to do everything possible to protect and ensure the civilian population in Gaza that lasting peace can return to the region.”

The Central Council of Jews pointed out on With this, the Central Council is probably alluding to the past documenta fifteen in 2022, which was overshadowed by the handling of art that was criticized as anti-Semitic.

Filmmakers called for an end to the fighting in Gaza

This year’s Berlinale was particularly marked by political debates. At the opening gala, some filmmakers called for an end to the fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. At the awards ceremony on Saturday, several people on stage carried notes that read “Ceasefire Now” – protesting for an end to Israel’s military actions against the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza.

In addition, on Sunday there was an anti-Israel post on the Instagram page of the Panorama section of the Berlinale, which was quickly deleted and then circulated as a screenshot on X. One photo showed the slogan “Free Palestine – From the River to the Sea.” The sentence means that there should be a free Palestine in an area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean – where Israel is now located. The film festival also distanced itself from this and stated that it had fallen victim to a hacker attack. “The fact that someone is misusing a Berlinale social media channel for anti-Semitic incitement is intolerable,” said the dpa when asked. The posts were immediately deleted and an investigation is underway to determine how the incident could have occurred. “And we have filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons. We condemn this criminal act in the strongest possible terms.”

Source: Stern

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