Berlinale Workers Demand ‘Immediate Ceasefire’ in Gaza and Call on Festival Leadership to Do the Same: ‘We Need Stronger Institutional Stances’

A group of Berlinale workers have published an open letter to the festival, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and asking that leadership takes a “stronger institutional stance” on what the statement calls “the current assault on Palestinian life.”

“We are painfully aware of the unbearable dynamics of institutional inertia in the cultural sector in Germany, and we recognize the current limits imposed on speech. We want to hold the festival and ourselves to a higher standard,” reads the letter, which was published on Instagram Monday night with a link to a Google Form for others to sign. “An international platform such as the Berlinale and we, in our roles as programmers, consultants, moderators, facilitators, and space holders, alongside further Berlinale workers, can and should voice dissent at the current assault on Palestinian life. We join a global solidarity movement to demand an immediate ceasefire and call for the release of all hostages.”

The statement continues, “While we acknowledge isolated and minor attempts to create space for exchange, we would expect the program of this year’s festival to engage more actively and discursively with the urgency and reality of the moment by holding dialogue spaces of its own initiative and design in the big houses we call cinemas. Instead, we witness no initiatives that invite professionals and/or audiences into a dedicated space of discussion structured in a way that allows for a lengthy encounter between everyone.”

The Berlinale is holding a TinyHouse event during the festival where visitors can “have an open dialogue about the war in Israel and Gaza,” according to the program. “Rather than a large town square, a more intimate space is available to anyone interested in having a more personal discussion.”

“As the world bears witness to an inconceivable loss of civilian life in Gaza – including those of journalists, artists, and film workers – as well as the destruction of unique cultural heritage, we need stronger institutional stances,” the letter says. “We expect the festival to take a stance that is consistent with those taken in response to other events that have struck the international community in recent years.”

The Berlinale did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

The Berlinale has faced backlash leading up to its 74th edition for the invitation of the German right-wing extremist party AfD to the festival’s opening ceremony on Feb. 15. After widespread protests, the festival announced on Feb. 8 that it had withdrawn the politicians’ invitations.

“The current discourse has once again made it very clear how much the commitment to a free, tolerant society and standing against right-wing extremism are part of the Berlinale’s DNA,” the festival said in a statement at the time, adding that “for decades, the Berlinale has been committed to democratic values and against all forms of right-wing extremism.”

Read the full open letter and see the list of signees here.

This post was originally published on Variety

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