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Director withdraws film from Berlinale fest citing German war stance

Published : 19 Jan 2024, 21:33

  DF News Desk
File Photo: Xinhua by Ren Pengfei.

A director has withdrawn his film "Atmospheric Arrivals" from one of the sections of the Berlinale film festival citing Germany's support for Israel in its war against Hamas, reported dpa.

"I have made the decision to withdraw my film 'Atmospheric Arrivals' from Berlinale Forum Extended and I will not be attending the festival," said director Ayo Tsalithaba, who comes from Ghana and Lesotho, in a post on Instagram on Thursday evening.

He said he was appalled at how artists were censored by cultural institutions and the government, especially in Germany.

"I cannot in good conscience allow this to happen while Germany is both actively participating in the horrors that we are witnessing in Gaza AND enacting disgusting violence on its people for speaking up against it," he said.

He said he was at a loss for words when his film was accepted into the experimental series Forum Expanded but could not "in good conscience" allow the work to be shown.

The Berlinale section responded on Instagram saying it regretted his move. "We respect Ayo's decision as we believe in and defend freedom of conscience and of art." Forum Expanded will remain a place for open dialogue involving a wide range of voices and positions, it said.

Tsalithaba said he supports a call for a boycott called "Strike Germany" aimed at international cultural professionals due to Germany's stance in the Middle East conflict.

The group is calling for a boycott of organizers of German cultural institutions, and its backers include French Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux. However, some have questioned the sincerity of the cause, as the organizers are unclear.

The Berlinale is one of the world's major film festivals alongside Cannes and Venice, and is scheduled to begin on February 15.