Enlarge image

Jury member Véréna Paravel with a “Ceasefire now!” note on her back at the Berlinale closing gala

Photo: Monika Skolimowska / dpa

After the Berlinale awards ceremony on Saturday evening, allegations of anti-Semitism were made following statements about the Israel-Gaza war.

Israel's ambassador Ron Prosor sharply criticized the "German cultural scene."

What was said and done at the Bear Gala?

  • The American experimental filmmaker

    Ben Russell

    (“Direct Action”) went on stage at the event with a Palestinian scarf and raised allegations of genocide because of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

    The audience applauded.

  • There were also allegations against the Palestinian filmmaker

    Basel Adra

    (“No Other Land”).

    In his acceptance speech, Adra called on Germany to stop supplying weapons to Israel.

    His Israeli colleague

    Yuval Abraham

    called for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation.

  • On stage, several people wore pieces of paper on their clothes that read “Ceasefire now!”, including the French filmmaker

    Véréna Paravel

    – she was a juror in the documentary film competition.

  • Hamas' terrorist attack on Israel on October 7 was not mentioned by the award winners.

How did the Berlinale management behave?

  • At the beginning of the gala, the co-director of the Berlinale,

    Mariette Rissenbeek,

    made it clear that there was no place at the Berlinale for "hate speech, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and any form of discrimination."

    She described the Gaza war as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

    “We call on Hamas to immediately release the hostages and we call on Israel to do everything possible to protect the civilian population in Gaza and ensure that lasting peace can be restored to the region.

    The fighting must stop.”

  • The organizers of the film festival explained that the statements made by the award winners were independent, individual opinions and “in no way reflect the position of the festival.”

    As long as they stayed within the legal limits, they had to be accepted, it said in a statement.

  • On Sunday, the organizers also announced that a Berlinale Instagram channel had been hacked.

    An indictment has been filed against an unknown person.

    “The fact that someone is abusing a Berlinale social media channel for anti-Semitic incitement is intolerable,” said the festival.

What happened on Instagram?

  • “Welt” editor Fredrik Schindler posted screenshots on Sunday afternoon that were said to have been visible on the account of the Berlinale side competition “Panorama.”

    A picture of a rearing horse on the seashore bears the slogan “Free Palestine.

    From the River to the Sea«.

    Another posting with the Berlinale logo read “Gaza, mon Amour.

    End the German-funded State terror«.

    A short time later, the posts could no longer be found.

How did those politically responsible react?

  • The federal government finances the Berlinale through institutional funding of 12.6 million euros from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media.

    Claudia Roth

    (Greens) thanked the outgoing festival management in a press release: »Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian did not have an easy task: they had to lead the Berlinale through a global pandemic and they have several editions of the festival in the shadow of global crises, wars and violence organized.«

  • On Monday, Claudia Roth


    about the events at the closing gala: "Together with the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Kai Wegner, and the Berlin Senate, who share responsibility for the Berlinale with us, we will now deal with the events at the bear awards ceremony." .

    It should be examined whether the Berlinale has lived up to its claim to be a place for diversity, different perspectives and dialogue or not.

    Roth also wants to clarify “how it can be ensured in the future that the Berlinale is a place that is free from hatred, agitation, anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Muslim and every form of misanthropy.”

  • "What happened yesterday at the Berlinale was an intolerable relativization," Berlin's Governing Mayor

    Kai Wegner

    (CDU) wrote about the incident on the Internet service X (formerly Twitter).

    “Anti-Semitism has no place in Berlin, and that also applies to the art scene,” he made clear.

    "I expect the new management of the Berlinale to ensure that such incidents do not happen again."

  • The day after the award ceremony, Berlin's Senator for Culture

    Joe Chialo

    also had clear words.

    "Culture should provide space for diverse political expressions of opinion, but this year's Berlinale awards ceremony was characterized by self-righteous anti-Israel propaganda that does not belong on the stages in Berlin," wrote the CDU politician on Sunday on X. It is to be hoped that the Festival management consistently processes the incidents.

For which films were the filmmakers honored?

  • Basel Adra and Yuval Abraham worked with two other directors on “

    No Other Land


    The film was awarded the Berlin Documentary Film Prize - endowed with 40,000 euros, donated by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB).

    The film also received the audience award in the Panorama section.

    The film tells the story of Masafer Yatta, a community in the south of the West Bank in an Israeli military training area.

    For decades, residents of several villages have been resisting the demolition of their houses, harassment by the military and increasing violence from radical settlers.

    In an interview with SPIEGEL, the Israeli investigative journalist Abraham already emphasized why he finds the term “apartheid” important to describe the conditions in the West Bank.

  • Ben Russell made the film “

    Direct Action

    ” together with his French colleague Guillaume Cailleau, which received an honorable mention from the documentary film award jury.

    He was also honored by the “Encounters” jury.

    The film portrays a collective of 150 people from rural France who successfully fought against a major international airport project in 2018.

What other voices were there from politics?

  • The President of the German-Israeli Society,

    Volker Beck

    (Greens), criticized on Platform X that Basel Adra's performance was applauded and went uncommented.

    This is “a cultural, intellectual and ethical low point” for the Berlinale.

  • “After the events of Saturday, we have to question whether things can stay that way and how we will deal with them in the future,” said the FDP chairwoman of the Bundestag culture committee,

    Anikó Glogowski-Merten,

    to the portal “The Pioneer”.

  • Sharp criticism also came from Green Party politician

    Konstantin von Notz

    after filmmaker Ben Russell spoke of “genocide” in connection with the Gaza war.

    »It is simply disgusting and a perfidious perpetrator-victim reversal.

    Such appearances are unbearable," von Notz wrote on X.

  • CSU General Secretary

    Martin Huber

    spoke of a “disgrace” .

    He also criticized Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) because she did not intervene.

  • According to an X release at the Berlinale,

    CDU MP

    Julia Klöckner , formerly Federal Minister of Agriculture, saw "anti-Semitism in a different guise" than before, but which was "just as inhumane."

  • The parliamentary director of the AfD in the Bundestag,

    Götz Frömming

    , grinned at

    In the run-up to the Berlinale, there was a dispute about whether AfD politicians from parliamentary cultural committees should be invited to the Berlinale.

    The festival management finally disinvited them.

What did the Israeli ambassador say?

  • “Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements” were met with thunderous applause, wrote

    Ron Prosor

    late on Sunday evening in Portal X. “It seems that the lesson from the Documenta was not understood.

    Under the guise of freedom of speech and art, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric is celebrated.«

    The German cultural scene is rolling out the red carpet “exclusively for artists” who are committed to “delegitimizing Israel.”

    Prosor demanded: “Your silence, the so-called “cultural elite,” is deafening!

    It's time to speak out and reject this grotesque charade.

    Act now or be part of this shameful legacy forever.”