Culture and politics: An important film festival "closes the door" to extremists

English Section / 12 februarie

Photo source: facebook / berlinale

Photo source: facebook / berlinale

Versiunea în limba română

Culture and politics do not generally mix well. Organizers of the Berlin International Film Festival have withdrawn their invitation to five politicians from the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party to this week's opening gala, citing recent reports of the AfD's alleged mass deportation plans. Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, directors of the film festival, offered a common point of view: "Especially in light of the revelations that have been made in recent weeks regarding the explicitly anti-democratic positions and individual politicians of the AfD, it is important for let us - as the Berlinale and as a team - take an unequivocal position in favor of an open democracy. Therefore, today I wrote to all previously invited AfD politicians and informed them that they are not welcome at the Berlinale." The AfD's Berlin chairman and the AfD's spokesman for cultural affairs had previously been invited to attend the opening night of the festival as part of a standard invitation to Berlin's 100 MPs from all parties. If invitations to the AfD have not proved controversial at previous editions of the Berlin Film Festival, this year's edition of the Berlinale opens amid intense debate over whether the increased radicalization of the anti-immigration party - and its rise in the polls - represents a fundamental threat to Germany's democratic constitution. The debate was sparked by reports last month of a secret meeting in which AfD politicians and neo-Nazi activists discussed a "masterplan" for mass deportations should the party come to power. The AfD did not deny the fact that the issue of the expulsion of German citizens was addressed during these meetings, but only insisted that it was not seriously discussed. Last week, an open letter signed by more than 200 film professionals, mostly from the German industry, protested the AfD's invitation to attend the opening gala, saying it was "incompatible" with the festival's commitment to to be a place of "empathy, awareness and understanding". In 2019, the then director of the Berlinale, Dieter Kosslick, had explicitly invited all members of the AfD to attend the festival, urging them to see a film about the reality of life in the Warsaw ghetto. "I'll pay for every one of their tickets," said Kosslick, who was praised for his comments at the time.

The Berlin Film Festival, one of the most important in Europe after Cannes and Venice, opens on Thursday, February 15.

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