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Ben Russell and Guillaume Cailleau: Russel wears a keffiyeh, also known as a Palestinian scarf


Markus Schreiber / AP

This year's Berlinale was particularly marked by political debates; many filmmakers protested against right-wing extremism at the opening gala.

Others called for an end to the fighting in Gaza between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas.

"We want everyone's suffering to be noticed and our program to open up different perspectives on the complexity of the world," explained the Berlinale leadership around Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian in the run-up to the film festival.

Even on the evening of the award ceremony, the Israel-Gaza war was omnipresent, but there were no different perspectives on the complex topic from the jury and the award winners.

Palestinian filmmaker and activist Basel Adra called on Germany to stop supplying weapons to Israel.

Adra made the documentary “No Other Land” with three other filmmakers and won the documentary film award for it.

The film is about the displacement of Palestinians in the villages of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the West Bank.

It was difficult for him to celebrate the award while "tens of thousands of people were being slaughtered in Gaza," Adra said on stage.

The audience responded with strong applause and cheers.

There was also clapping on stage, but there was no classification from either side.

Jury member Véréna Paravel had a note calling for a ceasefire stuck to her back when she presented Adra with the 40,000 euro prize.

No other award winner that evening mentioned the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, 2023. Director Ben Russell, who like many others that evening wore a keffiyeh (also known as a Palestinian scarf), accused Israel of genocide in his acceptance speech.

Here too, the audience applauded, but here too there was no reaction from the moderator.

At least the co-director of the Berlinale, Marriete Rissenbeek, did mention Hamas.

She appealed to the terrorist organization to release the hostages.

Israel's government asked them to ease the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza and enable early peace.

She once again repeated her opening words that there was no place for hatred and agitation at the Berlinale.

The Berlinale is considered the most important film festival in Germany.

In addition to the Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong'o and the German director Christian Petzold, the jury this year also included Brady Corbet, Ann Hui, Albert Serra, Jasmine Trinca and Oksana Zabuzhko.