Home Entertainment ‘Defend Democracy’ Demonstration Planned for Berlinale Opening Ceremony After AfD Controversy

‘Defend Democracy’ Demonstration Planned for Berlinale Opening Ceremony After AfD Controversy


After kicking off with a feisty press conference, the Berlin Film Festival is about to get even more political with a demonstration defending democracy that will be held right before the start of opening night festivities.

Berlinale organizers have planned this demonstration to highlight their decision to disinvite members of the far right political party AfD.

“By disinviting the AfD, the Berlinale has clearly positioned itself against the right wing extremism in Germany. On the opening night, the Berlinale is inviting a group of filmmakers to the red darpet to take a stand for democracy, diversity and peaceful togetherness,” said the organizers of the Berlinale, which stands as one of the world’s top three film festivals alongside Cannes and Venice.

The Berlinale found itself in hot water over the inclusion of the far-right politicians, and after widespread backlash, the fest announced on Feb. 8 that they had withdrawn their invitation.

The situation was a hot topic of Thursday morning’s international jury press conference, with president Lupita Nyong’o being asked if she would still have attended the opening ceremony had the politicians’ invite remained.

“I’m a foreigner here. I don’t know the ins and outs of the political situation here,” Nyong’o said. “I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question. I’m glad I don’t have to be in that position.”

But jury member Christian Petzold, the German director of “Barbara” and “Phoenix,” had a different perspective.

“I think it’s not a problem to have five persons of the AfD in the audience,” he said. “We are no cowards. If you can’t stand five persons of the AfD as part of the audience, we will lose our fight.”

Today’s event is expected to bring together about “50 to 60 people from the film industry, consisting of actors, directors and producers, will form a chain of lights together,” said the Berlinale.

Among the talent expected to attend are Jonathan Berlin, Meret Becker, Luisa Gaffron, Pegah Ferydoni, Roshanak Khodabakhsh Anne Leppin, Jannis Niewöhner, Murali Perumal, Katja Riemann, Lavinia Wilson and Jessica Schwarz. Music on the red carpet will also be paused while the message “Defend. Democracy.” will appear on the big screen.