Berlin film festival calls for acquittal of filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga

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THE Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) has called on the Zimbabwe government to clear filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga and journalist Julie Barnes or drop the case ahead of trial.

Both women were arrested in Harare in July 2020 during a protest calling for for the release of journalists and for institutional reforms.

Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said as “an institution that stands up for freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression worldwide,” they were asking the government to end the charges against the women.

“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,” they added in their statement.

Tsitsi and Julie are out on bail but were charged with inciting public violence, disturbing the peace and bigotry, as well as with violations of Covid regulations.

They have been subpoenaed 26 times. Dangarembga, an author, German Book Trade Peace Prize winner and filmmaker was a member of the International Jury at Berlinale earlier this year. 

Filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga and journalist Julie Barnes