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Berlin Festival Extends Russian Ban to Iranian-Backed Companies, Outlets

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The Berlin Film Festival and its accompanying European Film Market will not accredit any companies or media outlets with direct ties to the Russian or Iranian governments, the Berlinale confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

Berlin introduced a ban on Russian-backed companies and outlets last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following a policy also implemented by the Cannes and Venice festivals. Now Berlin has added Tehran to the list, responding to the Iranian government’s brutal crackdown on the wave of protests that have rocked the country for months. The demonstrations were triggered by the death, in September, of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Germany is home to a large Iranian diaspora — including such film luminaries as Berlin Alexanderplatz director Burhan Qurbani and actress Jasmin Tabatabai (The Baader Meinhof Complex) — and the country has seen major demonstrations in support of the protesters.

Berlin will not ban films from independent Russian and Iranian directors from participating in the festival. The animated feature The Siren from French-based Iranian director Sepideh Farsi will open this year’s Panorama section, the Berlinale’s main sidebar.

In a statement, the Berlinale said it “staunchly condemns Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, which violates international law, and expresses its solidarity with the people in Ukraine and all those who are campaigning against this war.” In reference to Iran, the festival said it “stands with the courageous protesters in Iran as they defend themselves against a violent, undemocratic regime.”

Berlin emphasized that it “will not exclude filmmakers, artists, industry representatives or journalists because of their Russian or Iranian nationality. … While we are aware that individual scrutiny of accreditation applications may not always result in clear conclusions, we remain committed to this course of action.”

The 73rd Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 16-26. The European Film Market runs Feb. 16-22.



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