Berlinale Supervisory Board Addresses Controversy at Closing Ceremony

Short Summary:

The supervisory board of Berlin's Berlinale addressed controversial comments made during the festival's closing ceremony, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a platform free from hatred and ensuring artistic freedom. They also highlighted the need for awareness of hostage situations, like that of Israeli actor David Cunio, and the prevention of unauthorized social media use.

Following the controversial closing ceremony of the Berlinale on February 24, the supervisory board of the Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin (KBB) convened a special session on March 11 to discuss the matter. The KBB, which oversees the festival's administration, is chaired by Claudia Roth, the state minister for culture and media.

In their official statement, the board expressed that the Berlinale should remain a venue free from "hatred, incitement, antisemitism, racism, Islamophobia, and all forms of misanthropy." It was clarified that the personal views of award recipients should not reflect on the Berlinale itself. The board emphasized the necessity of balancing freedom of opinion and artistic expression with the provision of space for political discourse and differing viewpoints.

The outgoing executive director, Mariette Rissenbeek, was encouraged to focus on raising awareness about David Cunio and other hostages held by Hamas since October 7, 2023, during her six-month transitional period. Cunio, along with his brother Eitan, starred in the film "Youth" by Tom Shoval, which premiered at the Berlinale in February 2013. Despite the relevance, neither the festival's management nor Claudia Roth mentioned Cunio during the event.

Artistic director Chatrian and head of programming Mark Peranson acknowledged the situation of the hostages, including Cunio, in a social media post on March 1, expressing deep concern.

The board also addressed a security breach on the official Instagram account of the Panorama section, where unauthorized pro-Palestinian posts appeared following the awards ceremony. This incident led to calls for enhanced security measures to prevent future unauthorized social media activity. The discussed post, using the phrase 'From the River to the Sea - Palestine Will Be Free,' sparked controversy due to its varied interpretations and its legal status in Germany.

The meeting was attended by Rissenbeek and Chatrian, along with discussions about the Berlinale's future under incoming director Tricia Tuttle. Tuttle's proposed organizational changes, including the formation of a strong management team, were welcomed by the board. They encouraged her to coordinate these initiatives with Roth's ministry swiftly. Tuttle, who will assume her role on April 1, will join the managing directors of four cultural institutions under the KBB umbrella, contributing to the festival's strategic direction with the support of the German federal government.