A project next to the red carpet at this year’s edition of the Berlin Film Festival aims to provide attendees with the opportunity to discuss the crisis in the Middle East.
The Berlin Film Festival has always been known for its political leanings and giving a platform to voices facing political oppression.
Only last week, the Berlinale put out a statement in support of the Iranian filmmakers Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha, who are still subject to a travel ban and will presumably not be attending the screening of their new film My Favourite Cake in Competition.
Now, the festival is partnering with Berlin social activists to create an intimate space for festival attendees to discuss and debate the crisis in the Middle East.
The “Tiny Space” project will set up a small cabin-like structure near the Berlinale red carpet for three days, from Saturday 17 to Monday 19 February. “Talk about Israel and Palestine,” says the sign in the cabin window, inciting dialogue and exchanges.
During those days, people can come to talk about “aspects of the war, but also the conflict in the Middle East more generally,” says Berlinale managing director Mariëtte Rissenbeek.
The project, which has already gone on the road in various locations around Berlin, is an initiative started by Shai Hoffmann, a German Jew with Israeli roots, and Jouanna Hassoun, a German-Palestinian.
It remains to be seen if there will be protests during this year’s festival, which starts next week (Thursday 15 February). There have been red carpet events and protests in the past, and considering the polarizing debate around the war in Gaza made in appearance during last month’s Sundance film festival in the US, with several pro-Palestinian protests taking place, it seems likely that the Berlinale will face some disruptions.
“Berlin is a big city and of course, we have to be prepared that there will be protests and that people will want to use the platform of the festival (to increase) the visibility of their protests,” says Rissenbeek. “But we have a security service on duty at every edition of the festival and we have already discussed different options with them depending on what is being planned. We are also in constant touch with the police so we will get very early notice of any actions and can make sure any situation is handled safely.”
The Berlin Film Festival takes place from 15-25 February. Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for updates, news, and film reviews from the Berlinale during the duration of the festival.
Additional sources • Hollywood Reporter