Additional Information

Jun 23, 2022
The Berlinale Calls for the Acquittal of Tsitsi Dangarembga

Update September 30, 2022: The Berlinale strongly condemns the conviction from September 29, 2022 of author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, which quoting PEN International can only be called a “bewildering mockery of rule of law”. The festival calls on the government of Zimbabwe to withdraw the verdict and reaffirms its call for acquittal of Tsitsi Dangarembga and her co-accused, Julie Barnes.

The Berlin International Film Festival views the upcoming trial of Tsitsi Dangarembga in Harare, Zimbabwe, on June 27, 2022 with great concern. The author, German Book Trade Peace Prize winner, and filmmaker was a member of the International Jury at the 2022 Berlinale.

Dangarembga was apprehended in July 2020 at a protest in Harare along with journalist Julie Barnes. At the time, both women were calling for the release of journalists and for institutional reforms; Dangarembga was holding a poster demanding “a better Zimbabwe for everyone”. However, in the judicial process, which has been continually postponed over the past two years, both women are being charged with inciting public violence, disturbing the peace and bigotry, as well as with violations of Covid regulations. The women have since been released on bail, but they have also been subpoenaed 26 times. In the trial, now taking place before the Anti-Corruption Court in Harare, the decision will be made whether to drop the case or seek a verdict.

“As an institution that stands up for freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression worldwide, we ask the government of Zimbabwe to clear Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Barnes of all charges, or to drop the case. Both women have consistently campaigned for freedom in courageous and artistically compelling ways. The right to free speech is anchored in Zimbabwe’s constitution, and to deny that right to these women would be unconstitutional,” say Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.

Press Office
June 23, 2022