Martin Scorsese, Olivier Assayas & Joanna Hogg Among 300 Signatories Of Open Letter In Support Of Outgoing Berlinale Co-Head Carlo Chatrian

A growing list of 300 film professionals, including Martin Scorsese, Olivier Assayas, Joanna Hogg, and Radu Jude, have signed an open letter calling for the contract of outgoing Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian to be reinstated and extended beyond 2024. 

Late last week, Chatrian released a statement via the Berlinale website announcing his intention to step down following next year’s edition of the German festival. In his statement, Chatrian pointed to the German Ministry for Culture and Media’s decision to scrap the Berlinale’s dual management structure as the main catalyst for his departure.

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Last month, German Culture Minister Claudia Roth announced that she wants the Berlinale to be placed back under the control of a single director. Roth is reported to have told a meeting on Thursday of the supervisory board of federal cultural events in Berlin (KBB), which oversees the festival, that her conclusion was the film should be led by one person.

“I thought that continuity could be facilitated if I remained part of the festival, but, in the new structure, as it has been presented, it is quite clear that the conditions for me to continue as Artistic Director no longer exist,” the statement read. “The next edition of the festival will be therefore the end of this rewarding journey.” 

Today’s open letter was addressed to Roth, whom the signatories accuse of displaying “harmful, unprofessional, and immoral behavior” through her efforts of “forcing the esteemed Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian to step down despite promises to prolong his contract.”

Chatrian’s resignation came after his co-head, Mariette Rissenbeek, also announced her decision to step down as executive director after the 2024 edition of the festival. Rissenbeek was the first woman to head up the Berlin Film Festival. She was announced as co-head in 2018, in the role of executive director, alongside Chatrian in the role of artistic director. They both took up their posts in June 2019.

The joint management structure marked a departure for the festival which had been under the stewardship of director Dieter Kosslick from 2001 onwards. The co-heads found themselves navigating the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with that edition being the last major festival with a full-blown market and attendance to take place that year. The pair then managed an online edition in 2021, and a hybrid edition in 2022, in which a scaled-down physical festival took place but the market was held online.

Read the full open letter below:

Open Letter in support of Carlo Chatrian, Artistic Director of Berlinale

We, a diverse group of filmmakers from all over the world, who have deep respect for Berlin International Film Festival as a place for great cinema of all kinds, protest the harmful, unprofessional, and immoral behavior of state minister Claudia Roth in forcing the esteemed Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian to step down despite promises to prolong his contract. 

Carlo Chatrian may not be a showman but in his quiet ways, he and his team have chosen an open and artistically rewarding curatorial path, showing new directions in world cinema, challenging stereotypes, and connecting different strands of filmmaking. 

Despite the most difficult circumstances all beyond Chatrian’s control—the pandemic,  financial restrictions, and a deteriorating festival center around Potsdamer Platz—the past editions under his guiding light were very much alive, full of positive surprises and, despite a smaller number of films shown, very popular, on par with pre-pandemic times. 

Also, the films awarded with the main important prizes of the festival in the last four years are confirmed to be important films, as all of them are critically acclaimed and shown all over the world either in commercial circuits or in other important festivals.

Instead of rewarding Carlo Chatrian for his effort, dedication, and patience, the minister has chosen to further increase the difficulties until Carlo Chatrian was forced to announce that he will not continue after the completion of his current contract, as the position of Artistic Director has been dissolved. 

Unsurprisingly, no better vision for the festival was presented or discussed, other than the questionable and politically backward demand for a strong hand the Berlinale supposedly needs in the form of an “Intendant”.

We strongly demand to prolong Carlo Chatrian‘s tenure and repair the damage done to this essential film festival.


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