When the Berlin International Film Festival was launched 66 years ago, there were millions of German refugees and traumatised displaced persons in Europe. The festival made a point of fostering understanding, tolerance and acceptance. Since then, it has always been responsive to current events in society – not only with the film programme, but also with many complementary activities.
Last year 79,034 people sought refuge in the German capital (source: Berlin Senate department of health and social services). They came from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Eritrea and many other crisis regions around the world. As a public festival and one of the city’s biggest annual events, the Berlinale feels a responsibility to do its part for Berlin’s culture of welcome.
For many years the Berlinale has promoted participation in cultural life for the socially disadvantaged by offering them tickets at a 50 percent discount, as well as making a quota of free tickets available to low-income people, an initiative run jointly with the non-profit KulturLeben Berlin – Schlüssel zur Kultur e.V. This year the festival is adding several projects aimed specifically at helping refugees.