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Lupita Nyong’o on Berlinale Disinviting Far-Right Politicians From Opening Ceremony: ‘I’m Glad I Don’t Have to Be in That Position’

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During a press conference on Thursday, Berlinale jury president Lupita Nyong’o responded to the festival inviting and then disinviting politicians from far-right group AfD to its opening ceremony.

“I’m a foreigner here. I don’t know the ins and outs of the political situation here,” Nyong’o said in response to a question asking if she would have attended the ceremony had the politicians still been invited. “I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question. I’m glad I don’t have to be in that position.”

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.”

He later added, “I think all of these questions make them stronger than they are … There are hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against them and they are much more important than this kind of discussion.”

This year’s jury also includes director Ann Hui (Hong Kong, China); filmmaker Albert Serra (Spain); actor-producer-director Brady Corbet (U.S.); actor-director Jasmine Trinca (Italy); and writer Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine).

Of the dynamic within the jury, Nyong’o said “already, we’re having robust conversations.”

“We have a lot of world experience and opinion, and it’s going to be interesting,” she said. “It’s probably also going to be spicy.”

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the inclusion of the far-right politicians, and after widespread backlash, the fest announced on Feb. 8 that they had withdrawn their invitation.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 current discourse has once again made it very clear how much the commitment to a free, tolerant society and standing against right-wing extremism are part of the Berlinale’s DNA,” stated the festival, adding that “for decades, the Berlinale has been committed to democratic values and against all forms of right-wing extremism.”

Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 15-25.