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Tsitsi Dangarembga
Tsitsi Dangarembga © Dirk Deckbar / Berlinale 2022

Berlin International Film Festival issued a statement today, calling for the acquittal of filmmaker and 2022 festival juror Tsitsi Dangarembga who was apprehended in July 2020 at a protest in Harare, Zimbabwe. She has since been released on bail, but in a trial, now taking place before the Anti-Corruption Court in Harare, the decision will be made on whether to drop the case or seek a verdict.

Read the statement:

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 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 on 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.

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