Germany’s second-largest broadcasting network, ARD, decided to remove the 2017 film “Wajib” from its weekend schedule, citing concerns about its “narrative perspective” amidst the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict. The network, a collaboration of 10 German regional public broadcasters, has faced accusations of censorship from the filmmakers.
In a statement to Deadline, ARD explained its decision, saying, “In the context of the drastic social and (global) political events, we checked, as per our standard procedure, as to whether our planned program offerings were in line with the current situation.” The network expressed a belief that, given recent events in the Middle East, the film might be misunderstood due to its narrative perspective.
When questioned about the specific aspects of the film’s narrative perspective that were considered problematic, ARD emphasized the importance of presenting different perspectives, especially in the Middle East conflict. The network pointed to its news, magazine, and special programs, as well as documentary offerings, as platforms that reflect diverse viewpoints. ARD mentioned plans to broadcast the documentary “Torn Society? Germany and the Middle East War” on the Middle East conflict, rescheduling the film “Wajib” for a later date.
“Wajib,” directed by Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie Jacir, is a comedy-drama set in Nazareth that explores the relationship between a retired teacher and his estranged son. The film delves into the complexities of Palestinian life within Israeli borders, highlighting political tensions and differing perspectives within the community.
The decision to pull “Wajib” from the schedule comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, with recent Hamas terror attacks and Israel’s military campaign on Gaza. The film was originally slated to air on ARD’s flagship channel as part of a double bill on the theme of fathers and sons.
The move has been criticized by the film’s German producer, Titus Kreyenberg, who called it a form of censorship. Jacir expressed her dismay at ARD’s decision, stating, “At this dark moment in history, it is shameful that ARD would choose to suppress artists’ voices instead of offering a space where we can share our stories, our culture, and our dreams.”
Jacir, a celebrated Palestinian director, had previously received strong support from Germany for her work. “Wajib” premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2017, winning several prizes, and went on to receive numerous international awards.