The Berlinale film festival announced Thursday that it had disinvited five politicians from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party from the opening ceremony, after protests in German cultural circles.
Following an “intense discussion” on Thursday, “the directors of the Berlinale decided to disinvite the five AfD politicians previously invited” to the opening ceremony on February 15, festival organizers said in a statement.
“The festival has repeatedly stressed that it observes with concern the rise of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, hate speech and other anti-democratic and discriminatory attitudes in Germany,” the statement read. These elected officials had initially been invited in the same way as representatives of other political parties, which had caused a stir among German film professionals.
“Particularly in light of the revelations made in recent weeks about the explicitly anti-democratic positions (of the AfD, editor's note), it is important for us - as Berlinale and as a team - to take an unequivocal position in favor of an open democracy,” explains the duo of festival directors, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.
Hundreds of thousands of Germans have demonstrated against the far right in recent weeks. this party, which has made strong progress in the polls, caused a stir in January after a press investigation revealed that some of its members had raised the idea of mass expulsions of foreigners during a meeting in presence of representatives of the radical identity movement.
More broadly, this 74th Berlinale opens in a flammable context, after four months of war in the Middle East. Germany has shown resolute support for Israel since the October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas on Israeli territory and since the start of Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In mid-January, a boycott campaign was launched by artists, including Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux, against German cultural institutions, accused of repressing Palestinian voices. The Berlinale assured that it had no “signals” of participation by the directors of the main selection in this boycott.