North Korea Threatens Berlin Film Festival over ‘The Interview’ Screening

Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment

The North Korean government accused the Berlin International Film Festival this week of “instigating terrorism” by including a screening of The Interview in its festival lineup.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the North Korean government-controlled television station Korean Central Television read a statement from a senior government official accusing Germany of supporting the United States’ “attacks” on the country.

“[The submission] has nothing whatsoever to do with the freedom of expression, nor does it suit the character of the Berlin Film Festival, and is clearly an act instigating terrorism,” the official was quoted as saying. “The West’s idea of freedom of expression would turn out to mean the freedom of violence and terrorism.”

The statement also warned Germany that it would be joining the United States’ terroristic attacks on North Korea by screening the film and likened the festival’s inclusion of the film to the country’s “shameful history” of the Holocaust.

However, the North Korean government’s anger appears to be misplaced; according to the report, The Interview is not part of the Berlinale festival’s film lineup or in any way affiliated with the festival. Sony Pictures Germany is releasing the film in the country on February 5, the same day the Berlinale festival begins.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick told the Hollywood Reporter that he would meet with the North Korean ambassador to Germany to explain the situation.

“I am going to tell him that (this screening) has nothing at all to do with the Berlin festival,” Kosslick told THR. “It’s simply a coincidence. We are in regular contact with Sony, but at no time did they, or we, consider having the official premiere of The Interview as part of the festival.”

The Interview, a comedy depicting a hare-brained scheme to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was at the center of a cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment in November, when tens of thousands of sensitive company documents, as well as five feature films, were leaked online by the hacking group Guardians of Peace.

Sony initially pulled The Interview from release in the United States before ultimately allowing a limited theatrical release and a robust online release through outlets like YouTube and XBox Live.