Berlin International Film Festival has banned state-backed Russian delegations while the war continues in Ukraine but will not boycott all Russian cinema as it would “suppress many critical voices”.
In a statement released today, the Berlinale said Russian institutions or delegations, as well as supporting actors of the regime”, would be excluded from participating in the festival “as long as the Russian government is waging this cruel war against Ukraine”.
But while Ukrainian filmmakers have called for a blanket ban of Russian cinema in “all its dimensions”, the Berlinale said it would take “a clear stand against a general boycott of cultural works on the basis of their origin, as this would also suppress many critical voices”.
“Even in face of the criminal Russian war of aggression… it cannot be the intention to exclude filmmakers or cultural workers from the Berlinale on the basis of their nationality, or to isolate them. All too often, it is precisely their works that convey criticism of the respective regimes… And the world needs those critical voices.”
It follows similar moves by Toronto, Cannes and Venice film festivals, since the invasion of Ukraine began nearly three weeks ago.
Russian films screened at the 2022 edition of the Berlinale, in February, included Alexander Zolotukhin’s Brother In Every Inch, which followed two brothers training to be air-force pilots; Michael Borodin’s drama Convenience Store, a Russia-Slovenia-Turkey co-production about Uzbeki immigrants working illegally in Moscow; and Julia Trofimova’s coming-of-age tale The Land Of Sasha.
Full statement below:
The Berlinale staunchly condemns Russia’s war of aggression, which violates international law, and expresses its solidarity with the people in Ukraine and all those who are campaigning against this war.
The Russian invasion and attacks on civilian targets such as hospitals, schools and homes have caused a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Ukraine. Our thoughts and sympathy are with the victims, the suffering population, and the millions who have fled Ukraine.
The Berlinale has developed into a setting for intercultural encounters and a platform for critical discussion of current or historical world events. Art and culture are key elements of democratic societies, and film festivals are places where artists from all over the world - regardless of their country - can showcase their work and enter into dialogue. It is only in open, creative spaces for reflection that (film) culture can continue to develop.
Even in face of the criminal Russian war of aggression, therefore, it cannot be the intention to exclude filmmakers or cultural workers from the Berlinale on the basis of their nationality, or to isolate them. All too often, it is precisely their works that convey criticism of the respective regimes. Consequently, the Berlinale takes a clear stand against a general boycott of cultural works on the basis of their origin, as this would also suppress many critical voices. And the world needs those critical voices. It is a different matter to exclude official state institutions and, in this case, Russian institutions or delegations as well as supporting actors of the regime from participating in the Berlinale as long as the Russian government is waging this cruel war against Ukraine.
The Berlin International Film Festival hopes for an early end to Russian aggression and peace for Ukraine.
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