The February 5 theatrical release date of Sony’s The Interview in Germany has evidently led to a misunderstanding in North Korea. Pyongyang issued a statement on Wednesday accusing the Berlin Film Festival of “agitation of terrorism” by including the comedy in its lineup and urged the U.S. and Germany to “give up at once” the screening of the “anti-DPRK movie” or face “merciless punishment.” Here’s the rub: The Interview is not now, and never was, part of the roster. The controversial James Franco-Seth Rogen lampoon just coincidentally happens to be going out to moviehouses the same day as the festival kicks off — with Isabel Coixet’s arctic period drama Nobody Wants The Night.
A spokesperson for the festival tells me there were never any plans to have The Interview take part in the proceedings, nor was the film ever proposed by Sony. “The theatrical release is the same day as the festival’s opening. It’s just a coincidence.” Berlin Fest chief Dieter Kosslick will be meeting with the North Korean ambassador to Germany in the next few hours to attempt to clear up the confusion.
The statement by a spokesman for the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry, which was carried by the Korean Central News Agency, accuses the U.S. “and its vassal forces” of “becoming desperate in their moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.”
The screening of “the movie” has “nothing to do with the ‘freedom of expression’ touted by Germany. It is evidently agitation of terrorism quite contrary to the purpose and nature of the Berlin international film festival,” the statement says. It also accuses the U.S. of “war actions” and makes reference to the recent events in Paris. The spokesman wrote that screening the movie would be “a self-contradictory act that chills the atmosphere of combating terrorism growing strong in the whole of Europe.” He also mentions that “indignation” and the “will to annihilate the U.S. and other hostile forces” on the part of the DPRK’s army and people, are “running high.”
For the time being, I’m told there are no plans to increase security at the Berlin Film Festival based on today’s news.