The debate regarding the invitation of right-wing populist AfD politicians to the opening of the Berlinale has been addressed by Claudia Roth, the Minister of State for Culture. She has defended the approach taken by the festival management. The criticism originated from an open letter, which was posted online on February 2nd, but has since disappeared from the internet. The letter, which was backed by a number of filmmakers, among others, demanded the withdrawal of invitations extended to representatives of AfD. Notably, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has classified AfD as a suspected case of right-wing extremism.
A spokesman for Roth, responding on Monday, stated that at their recommendation, members of the cultural committee of the German Bundestag, who are in charge of policy, were also invited to the Berlinale’s opening. This was made possible through substantial federal funding. He said, “This corresponds to democratic practice and the federal government’s respect for parliament and its elected representatives.”
Simultaneously, the spokesman emphasized Roth’s “great regret” regarding the representation of AfD in the Bundestag. He stated, “In Claudia Roth’s view, anti-democratic, anti-rule-of-law and racist political forces have no place in the German Bundestag.” Roth is committed to continue working “with great determination against right-wing extremism, racism, anti-Semitism and every form of misanthropy, as well as for a diverse, open and democratic social model “.
The Berlinale stands for the freedom of art and for the fight against racism, exclusion and discrimination.
A speaker by Claudia Roth
The spokesman explained that the Berlinale and its program represent a cosmopolitan and diverse Germany. He said, “The Berlinale stands for the freedom of art and for the fight against racism, exclusion and discrimination.” Roth will always support, protect and defend these values. “This is what the overwhelming majority of invited guests should and will definitely support and will all stand for exactly.”
If AfD MPs accept the invitations to the Berlinale opening, they would have to tolerate “the fact that they are clearly confronted with exactly this at the Berlinale. Otherwise they should stay away,” said Roth’s spokesman.
“We stand up against all forms of exclusion”
The Berlinale had previously also referred to the parliamentary status and at the same time emphasized: “We are committed to opposing any form of exclusion and discrimination and consistently stand up for the values of a cosmopolitan and liberal democracy.” A statement went on to say: “People – too Elected officials who act contrary to these fundamental values are not welcome at the Berlinale.” This will be expressed clearly and emphatically in personal letters to the AfD representatives and on other occasions.
The Berlinale is one of the world’s largest film festivals, alongside Cannes and Venice. The next edition is scheduled to run from February 15th to 25th.