At the opening of the Berlinale Zelensky calls on art

At the opening of the Berlinale, Zelensky calls on art and cinema to debate

“Cinema (…) can inspire and influence people who can change the world,” said Volodymyr Zelensky at the opening of the Berlinale, who decided to turn his spotlight on Ukraine.

“Culture and cinema cannot stand outside of politics when it comes to a policy of aggression, mass crimes, murders, terror (…), a policy of total war like that of Russia,” continued the Ukrainian president via video.

The leader is the focus of the festival’s documentary event, Superpower, which Sean Penn filmed almost a year ago in the midst of the Russian invasion and will be presented on Saturday.

“In these times, art cannot be neutral” and when culture “is silent, it contributes to evil,” continued the man who was an actor before his election as president, thanking the German festival that programs several Ukrainian films and his Golden Bear has been repainted in yellow and blue, the colors of Ukraine.

Sean Penn himself, who had just returned from a stay in Kiev, gave a moving testimony on stage to the state of mind of the Ukrainians, which he believes has “not changed” since the invasion: “Their will is simply strengthened,” added the American actor Director.

“There is an extraordinary solidarity and unity that should inspire us all.”

Zelensky, who had already appealed for support from the cinema world at the opening of the last Cannes Film Festival, was dubbed a “hero of our time” by American actress Anne Hathaway earlier in the day.

She presented She Came To Me, an out-of-competition film that opens the festival, in which she stars alongside Peter Dinklage, one of the main protagonists of Game of Thrones, and Marisa Tomei, who has starred notably in several Marvel -Movies can be seen, plays.

“Unbreakable World”

Anne Hathaway thanked the Berlinale “for giving everyone the opportunity to spread the message of Ukraine: the almost universal desire for peace”.

For her part, the President of the Jury, Kristen Stewart, said that “in response to a world that is collapsing around us (…) this is a huge opportunity to be able to present great things”.

A message heard by two climate activists who broke security barriers and taped their hands to the red carpet during the opening ceremonies.

In line with similar actions organized across Germany for months, these activists are calling, according to a press release, “to prevent the race to a climate hell that will kill billions.”

At 32, Kristen Stewart is the youngest jury president in the history of the Berliner Festspiele, the third in Europe after Cannes and Venice.

From the series “Twilight” to independent cinema, notably with Olivier Assayas, the American actress has a mainly female jury at her side, with the Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, banned in France, who can be seen in Hollywood notably in “Paterson”. or the Spaniard Carla Simon, winner of the Golden Bear 2022 with “Nos soleils”.

“It’s very symbolic to be in Berlin, the city where the wall fell,” in a world where another wall is currently being erected against freedom, the Iranian artist said, referring to Ukraine, but also on Iran.

His country, where director Jafar Panahi has just been released on bail after seven months in prison, will also have a place of choice at a Berlinale that aims to be the voice of artists in resistance.

An extraordinary climb of the stairs is planned for Saturday in solidarity with the Iranians.

Several films about this country will be screened in parallel sections, and panel discussions will focus on the evolution of the anti-regime protest movement that has erupted since September.

Some of the stars are back at the festival. American Steven Spielberg will arrive to present his most autobiographical film (“The Fabelmans”) and will be presented with an Honorary Golden Bear for a career that changed cinematic history, from Jaws to AND.