Berlinale Set to Host Exhibit Encouraging Discussions on Israel and Palestine

Berlinale directors at press conference
Berlinale directors, Mariëtte Rissenbeek (left) and Carlo Chatrian (right), at February 6, 2024 press conference.

Berlinale Film Festival is set to begin on February 15th with an interesting new addition. Recently, Sundance Film Festival became the latest venue for pro-Palestinian protestors as they gathered on Main Street in Park City, to voice concerns over President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict and to call for a ceasefire. Given the current geopolitical landscape, the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become hard to ignore. The co-directors of the Berlinale Film Festival announced a new exhibit that will be available for attendees at this year’s 74th annual edition. 

The festival has partnered with Berlin social activists to create an intimate space for dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East more broadly. The exhibit will consist of a cabin-style tiny house parked near the Berlinale red carpet, with a sign in the window that reads: “Talk about Israel and Palestine.” The project, called Tiny Space, will be run by Shai Hoffmann, an Israeli-German citizen, and Jouanna Hassoun, a Palestinian-German citizen. Since the Hamas terror attack of October 7, 2023, and Israel’s subsequent ground incursion into Gaza, the creators of this exhibit have taken the tiny house to various areas around Berlin to host pop-up conversations of 3-4 people. 

Hoffmann met Hassoun for the first time in 2014 when he interviewed her at a career-focused panel for a Berlin school. In 2020, they began working together to produce educational videos about conflict in the Middle East for use in German schools. In an interview about why they chose to do this work, Hassoun replied, “Through our work we want to create a ‘brave space’ in schools where we listen to the pupils. They need a place where they can talk about the Middle East conflict, Israel, Palestine, antisemitism and islamophobic racism in a reflective and relaxed way.” Hoffmann added, “There are so many crises going on around the world and these touch on deep-seated fears in children and young people. If we do not create spaces where they can address and discuss these fears without prejudice, then I am deeply concerned about the integrity of our society.”

The Tiny Space project was announced last week by Berlinale co-directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, who issued the following statement: 

“We believe that through the power of films and open discussions, we can help foster empathy, awareness, understanding – even and especially in painful times like these. Our sympathy goes out to all the victims of the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and elsewhere. We want everyone’s suffering to be recognized and for our program to be open to discussing different perspectives on the complexity of the world. We are also concerned to see that antisemitism, anti-Muslim resentment, and hate speech are spreading in Germany and around the world. As a cultural institution, we take a firm stand against all forms of discrimination and are committed to intercultural understanding.”

The exhibit will be open at the festival from February 17th through February 19th, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

About :

Grace E Rubin is an undergraduate alumnus of Wesleyan University and current graduate student in the Writing and Publishing Master’s program at Emerson College. She concurrently works full-time writing for a nonprofit organization. After spending six years in Washington DC, mostly working on Capitol Hill, she is thrilled to now be back in her hometown of Boston. She loves reading, politics, and her rescue pitbull, Angel.