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February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When the Berlin Film Festival — the Berlinale — opened last Thursday, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, who presides over the jury, pledged to keep politics out of the jury room. “We will surely be putting aside our political prejudices when watching the films,” he told reporters covering the festival. The jurors may be doing so within the jury room, but outside, it’s a different story, as President Donald Trump figures in just about everyone’s conversation, including Berlinale president Dieter Kosslick’s. In a reference to Trump’s tweet that Meryl Streep was “overrated” in Hollywood — she criticized him at this year’s Golden Globes — Kosslick responded that Trump was “rather the most overrated president in history.” While not mentioning Trump’s name, jury member Maggie Gyllenhaal told reporters, “I want people around the world to know that there are many, many people in my country that are ready to resist.” Appearing at a news conference to promote his latest film, The Dinner (the only U.S. film selected for the competition), Richard Gere directed most of his comments at the U.S. president. “The most horrible thing that Trump has done is conflated two words — refugee and terrorist,” Gere remarked. “It means the same thing in the U.S. now. That’s what he’s accomplished to a large segment of our population.” And director/actor Stanley Tucci, who is showing his Final Portrait, about Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, at the festival (out of competition) expressed concern about the apparent decision by the president to cut funding for the Arts. “I can imagine if this administration has its way, they will eviscerate the arts,” he said. “Art should be an intrinsic part of life, but many people don’t see art as an important part of education. This administration may not even see education as important.” The president’s executive order on immigration — now stalled — that would have had the effect of barring filmmakers from most Arab countries from coming to the U.S., was also condemned at the concurrent European Film Market, where Mimi Steinbauer, president of Radiant Films International, told the Hollywood Reporter: “We have to worry about the visa status of every person we work with, if they can travel or get back into the country. It’s insane.”