The Berlin Film Festival hopes to quell the heated debate around the Gaza war by getting people on both sides to sit down and talk.
Berlinale organizers are teaming up with Berlin social activists Shai Hoffmann and Jouanna Hassoun – he is a German Jew of Israeli origin, she is German-Palestinian – to create an intimate space for festival attendees to discuss and debate the crisis in the Middle East. The “Tiny Space” project will see Hoffmann and Hassoun install a small cabin-like structure near the Berlinale red carpet for three days, from Saturday, February 17 to Monday, February 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. can come and talk about “certain aspects of the war, but also the conflict in the Middle East in general,” explains the general director of the Berlinale, Mariëtte Rissenbeek.
The project is an expansion of an initiative launched by Hoffmann and Hassoun last year after the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7 and the Israeli military attack in Gaza. They took the small mobile home, which can accommodate around 3-4 people, to pop-up locations around Berlin, hosting talks with locals. “Talk about Israel and Palestine,” says the welcome sign hanging in the house’s window.
“In today’s society, it has become very difficult to reconcile the two sides of the debate. [around the war in Gaza] in a single room you are forced to take a stand for one side or the other,” explains Carlo Chatrain, artistic director of the Berlinale. “What we want to do as a festival is to offer a place where dialogue is possible. We believe a dialogue is possible if we start with small groups [and] provide a space where certain arguments or certain emotions can be managed better than in a theater of 500 or 1,000 people.
Berlin is already…