A politically charged Berlin Film Festival was further enlivened on the third day of the European Film Market by a demonstration targeting Chilean armed forces.

On Saturday, the Martin Gropius Bau, the site of the EFM, saw a group of anonymous protestors unfurl a big banner from one of the market’s upper floors, with activists shouting out, “How can you celebrate Chile when Chile is killing its own people?”

The protests were in response to the festival throwing a large spotlight on Chilean cinema, drama series and documentaries as its Country in Focus this year.

Whether the protestors chose the right target, however, is another matter.

Many of the large delegation of Chilean cineasts and content creators in Berlin for the Focus are fellow protestors. After an official photo is taken Sunday morning of the whole of the Chilean delegation, members will stage their own personal demonstration with posters in favor of a new Chilean constitution, others proclaiming “Human rights are violated in Chile” and “Never Again.”


“The film and TV sector has been active from the beginning of the protests, always in favor of human rights and the defense of the legitimate right to demonstration,” said Constanza Arena, speaking, she said, on a personal basis and not as executive director of CinemaChile.

“The film and audiovisual sectors are also the eyes of the country,” she added.

“The Chilean film and TV community is at the call of Chilean citizens to make visible through cinema what is happening in Chile,” said producer Gabriela Sandoval, also head of industry at Chile’s Sanfic festival.

The protestors at the Martin Gropius Bau on Saturday also distributed one-sheets drilling down on the 40 people murdered, 3,765 injured and 520 tortured as Chile’s armed and security forces sought from October to put down the biggest wave of civic unrest in Chile in the last 30 years.

The drama series that will form part of a Chilean showcase on Monday similarly drill down on the gender torture and murder (“La Jauría”), the impact of Augusto Pinochet’s assassinations on loved ones (“Una historia necesaria”), a Pinochet-backed torture center run by a former Nazi (“Dignity”) and the dictator’s detention and murder of thousands of Chileans (“Invisible Heroes”).

“As Chile is in a moment of large turmoil when it comes to what the future of Chile will look like, it is only natural that this is also expressed by the people present at the film market,” said European Film Market head Matthijs Wouter Knol.

He added: “Within the Country in Focus program of the film market, Chilean documentary filmmakers and producers have testified about the difficulties they have experienced in Chile in the past half-year and how these difficulties have been the source of new stories that have to be told.”

The protests follow actions in London where demonstrators called on U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab to ban crowd-control equipment licenses for Chile.