>> Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video to the guests of the opening ceremony of the Berlinale film festival in Berlin, February 16, 2023.
Berlin – The 73rd edition of the Berlinale International Film Festival began in the evening in the German capital. The film festival, which will offer the audience 300 films, is carried out in the spirit of solidarity with Ukraine, which has been resisting the Russian invasion for a year. At the opening ceremony, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the visitors via video, talking about the importance of cinemas and the emotions that movies can evoke.
Photo gallery: Berlinale Film Festival
Zelensky, who joined via video from Ukraine, was greeted by a standing ovation in the Berlinale Palast hall. The Ukrainian president started by saying that cinemas can overcome walls and inspire, and that one such wall led to Potsdam Square, not far from the hall where the festival started. “Postupimské náměstí used to be the border between the free West and the East,” he said of the Berlin Wall that divided the German capital. “Today, Russia wants to build such a wall between us and you,” he said.
Ukraine is now, according to Zelensky, a fortress of freedom. “A fortress that will definitely remain standing. We will win,” he said.
Hollywood actor and director Sean Penn was on stage during Zelensky's performance. On Friday in Berlin, he will present the world premiere of his documentary about Ukraine, Superpower, which he shot together with the American Aaron Kaufman. Due to the film about the Russian invasion and Ukrainian President Zelensky, Penn has repeatedly visited Ukraine.
At today's ceremony, the executive director of the festival Mariette Rissenbeek and the artistic director of the festival Carlo Chatrian drew attention to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. “Our sympathies are with the people who had to leave Ukraine and also with those who are defending it,” they said. They added that they strongly condemn the Russian invasion.
The suffering of Ukrainians was also pointed out in a speech by the state minister for culture and media, Claudia Rothová, who also criticized the authoritarian regimes in Iran and Afghanistan. Even the mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffeyová, spoke about Ukraine and Iran. “Berlin is a city of peace and freedom,” Giffey said.
The Berlinale will last until February 26, but the highlight will be Saturday, February 25, when the jury will select the winning film of the festival. There are 19 pictures competing for the main prize, which is a statuette of the Golden Bear. There is no Czech film in the main competition category Competition, but Czech production is represented in the accompanying Encounters competition section. Czech works will not be absent in other categories either.
In the Encounters section there is a feature-length documentary Eastern Front by Vitalij Manský and Jevhen Titarenko. The film, which depicts the first six months of the war in Ukraine, was co-produced by Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and the United States.
The festival, which was jointly opened by Rissenbeek and Chatrian, kicked off with a screening of the American romantic comedy She Came to Me ( She Came to Me) directed by Rebecca Miller. The film, which stars Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, had its world premiere in Berlin at the same time.
A pair of activists from the Letzte Generation movement used the opening ceremony to draw attention to the Earth's climate problems. which stuck to the festive red surface. According to the published footage, the activists did not get directly to the red carpet, but they still penetrated the forbidden area, where they had to climb over the fence.