The Berlin International Film Festival is standing by its 2021 premiere Black Bach Artsakh, which debuts in the Forum Expanded program during this month’s virtual event, after the film’s synopsis provoked an online backlash.
The film depicts the Azerbaijan and Armenian conflict and is based on interviews with inhabitants of the disputed territory Nagorno-Karabakh. People had responded angrily to the film’s description as listed on Berlin’s website, which was penned by the filmmakers and featured arguably partisan language. One social media user called it a “biased description”.
In response, the festival has removed the filmmaker-penned bio and replaced it with a shorter one written by the fest team.
In a statement today, the fest said the new description “reflects why we consider the film relevant” and affirmed that the film would be remaining in the program of the virtual event this month. It will also still screen at the planned physical event in the summer.
“We look forward to hosting a screening and panel discussion in the summer, where everyone will be welcome to engage in a constructive dialogue,” the statement added.
The deadly conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia originated in the early 20th century and escalated into war in the 1990s. A cease-fire was held until an escalation in tensions in 2016, and fighting broke out again in 2020. A further cease fire was reached on November last year and remains in place.
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