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During a press conference on Thursday, Berlinale jury president Lupita Nyong’o responded to the festival inviting and then disinviting politicians from far-right group AfD to its opening ceremony.

“I’m a foreigner here. I don’t know the ins and outs of the political situation here,” Nyong’o said in response to a question asking if she would have attended the ceremony had the politicians still been invited. “I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question. I’m glad I don’t have to be in that position.”

This year’s jury also includes directors Christian Petzold (Germany) and Ann Hui (Hong Kong, China); filmmaker Albert Serra (Spain); actor-producer-director Brady Corbet (U.S.); actor-director Jasmine Trinca (Italy); and writer Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine).

Petzold had a different perspective, saying: “I think it’s not a problem to have five persons of the AfD in the audience. We are no cowards. If you can’t stand five persons of AfD as part of the audience we will lose our fight.”

He later added, “I think all of these questions make them stronger than they are … there are hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating against them and I think they are more important than this kind of discussion.”

The Berlinale found itself in hot water over the invitation of politicians from AfD, a German right-wing extremist party, to its opening ceremony. After widespread backlash, the fest announced on Feb. 8 that they had withdrawn the invitation.

“The current discourse has once again made it very clear how much the commitment to a free, tolerant society and standing against right-wing extremism are part of the Berlinale’s DNA,” stated the festival, adding that “for decades, the Berlinale has been committed to democratic values and against all forms of right-wing extremism.”

Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 15-25.



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