Open letter from Berlinale partners: Criticism of the festival’s handling of the Gaza war

Open letter from Berlinale partners
Criticism of the festival’s handling of the Gaza war

This year the Berlinale will take place from February 15th to 25th.

© Denis Makarenko/

A few days before the start of the festival, contractual partners of the Berlinale criticized the film festival in an open letter.

Shortly before the start of this year’s Berlinale on February 15th, a group of the festival’s contractual partners criticized the Berlinale’s handling of the Gaza war in an open letter. In the document released on Monday evening (February 12) on Instagram and published as a Google Docit says: “As contractors of the Berlinale who admire the festival’s vocal and principled track record in defending humanitarian values, we feel the need to offer a position based on the festival’s statement on the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza (January 19 2024).”

The Berlinale, which is considered an extremely political film festival, issued an official statement signed by co-directors Mariette Rissenbeek (68) and Carlo Chatrian (52) on January 19th, in which it says: “Our sympathy goes out to all victims of the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and beyond. We want everyone’s suffering to be recognized and our program to open up different perspectives on the complexity of the world.”

Desire for stronger dialogue during the Berlinale

“As the world witnesses an unimaginable loss of civilian life in Gaza – including journalists, artists and filmmakers – as well as the destruction of a unique cultural heritage, we need a stronger institutional stance,” the open letter says in response , which was signed by, among others, contractual partners from the Panorama, Forum and Generation sections.

The wish was then expressed that the festival would “deal more actively and discursively with the urgency and reality of the moment by using its own initiative and design to create dialogue spaces in the large houses that we call cinemas.” However, according to the authors of the letter, this is not currently planned, so that no “longer encounter” between the audience and experts as part of the film festival is possible.

At the same time, the letter calls for an “immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages” in the Gaza Strip. The “call for peace and liberation” would coincide with the festival’s previous principles, “which would have given the Berlinale a uniquely respected position in the cultural landscape.”


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