George Clooney, in town to promote Hail, Caesar!, which opened the Berlin Film Festival last night, drew attention away from the red carpet and onto Syria’s refugee crisis today when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The meeting has made headlines here on the sidelines of the festival with news channels closely covering Clooney’s arrival at the rendez-vous with his wife, human rights attorney Amal Clooney, and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is now head of the International Rescue Committee.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted the photo above saying the Clooneys had spoken with the chancellor on “refugee policies and their involvement” with the IRC during the 40-minute meeting. They were expected to visit with refugees living in Berlin this afternoon.
At the press conference for Hail, Caesar! on Thursday, Clooney mentioned he would be meeting with Merkel to “ask what we can help with.” He was then shortly grilled about what “concrete” things he’s done to help, and pressed back at the journalist who had asked the question, saying, “I spend a lot of time working on these things, so it’s odd to have someone stand up and say, ‘So, what do you do?’”
Under Merkel’s open-door policy, Germany admitted 1.1M refugees in 2015, 79K seeking asylum in Berlin. But she is facing increased opposition. The festival itself this year has refugees top of mind, offering several initiatives including free movie tickets and classes.