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George Clooney Meeting with Angela Merkel to Offer Hollywood Help During Refugee Crisis

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George Clooney will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss how Hollywood can play a role in resolving Europe’s refugee crisis, the actor announced Thursday at the Berlin Film Festival.

Clooney’s latest film, the Coen Brothers-directed Hail, Caesar!, will open the 66th annual Berlinale, which will focus on the themes of immigration and mass migration with a slate of at least a dozen films exploring the topic.

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“I’m having a meeting with Angela Merkel tomorrow to talk about and ask what messages and what things we [in Hollywood] can do,” Clooney told reporters during the first day of press conferences at the festival.

According to German weekly Der Spiegel, the actor also hopes to meet with refugees while he is in Berlin.

The Hail, Caesar! press conference — also attended by the Coens and stars Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, and Tilda Swinton — was almost derailed when a reporter asked Clooney what he was doing, aside from making films, to help address Europe’s refugee crisis.

“I spend a lot of time working on these things, and it’s an odd thing to have someone stand up and say, ‘What do you do?,'” Clooney replied. “That’s fine, knock yourself out. I have gone to places that are very dangerous and I work a lot on these things.”

After announcing his upcoming meeting with Merkel, Clooney turned on the reporter: “I’d like to know what you are doing to help the situation?”

Clooney was also asked whether a sequel would ever be made to his 2005 film Syriana, or whether he might produce any more films dealing with refugee crises.

“The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way,” the actor replied, according to the New York Daily News. “News stories have to continue to happen and then scripts are written and it takes a couple years before people are actually making films about it.”

This year’s Berlinale will feature a slate of films that examine the impact of refugee crises and mass migration, such as Italian director Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, a documentary about the Mediterranean island Lampedusa, which has served as an entry point for many fleeing refugees.

The festival has asked Berlin’s nonprofit refugee aid organizations for volunteers to “accompany a refugee to a screening” free of charge. The festival will also host refugee-staffed food trucks at its Berlinale Street Food Market and donation drives at its gala events that will benefit organizations working to integrate refugees into German society.

Three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep will head the festival’s jury, which will award one film the top Golden Bear prize and seven others the Silver Bear acting and technical achievement prizes.

The Berlin Film Festival runs through February 21.


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