EXCLUSIVE: Multiple German film organizations are planning protests at this year’s Berlinale in response to the festival’s decision to invite members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to the opening ceremony, we can reveal.
A number of trade and industry organizations have banded together in opposition to the AfD’s presence at the festival and, in the coming days, are set to publish another open letter voicing their anger over the decision.
More from Deadline
We understand the groups — who have asked to remain anonymous for now — intend to protest at Berlin’s opening ceremony on February 15 with demonstrations potentially including a human chain where protesters link arms on the red carpet. There is speculation among a handful of our sources that some industry members could boycott the festival this year, with the potential for another open letter explaining that move.
Discussions over demonstrations intensified soon after Deadline revealed a separate open letter signed by more than 200 industry professionals, including actors, directors, producers, writers, programmers, educators, journalists, and students, in which they expressed “outrage” over the invitations.
That original open letter has since been taken down over fear of reprisal against its organizers, we’re told by sources.
However, this morning, The Wave and Das Boot series director Dennis Gansel became the most prominent voice in the German industry to call out the festival’s invitation. Organizers have said that it is festival protocol to invite democratically elected members of parliament to the opening ceremony.
According to German national Bild, a number of other German actors, writers and directors have voiced their disappointment on social media.
On Saturday, the Berlinale confirmed to Deadline that AfD members Kristin Brinker and Ronald Gläser, who were elected to office in the last local elections, were among politicians to receive invites to the opening.
“Members of the AfD were elected to the Bundestag and the Berlin House of Representatives in the last elections. Accordingly, they are also represented in political cultural committees and other bodies. That is a fact, and we have to accept it as such,” the festival said.
The festival’s decision has since been backed by German Culture Minister Claudia Roth, who told local press the invites were sent at the “suggestion” of her office.
The AfD is currently polling second in Germany, but hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest against the party, whose ideology has been described as anti-Islam, anti-immigration, German nationalist, Eurosceptic and denying of human-caused climate change.
The Berlin Film Festival runs Feb 15 — 25.
Andreas Wiseman contributed to this report.
Best of Deadline