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POLITICS

‘It became a political rally’: Catalonia documentary directors return German award

The directors of Netflix documentary "Two Catalonias" said Tuesday they had returned a German award because the involvement of Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont in the ceremony had "politicized" the "neutral" spirit of their work.

'It became a political rally': Catalonia documentary directors return German award
Veronika "Nika" Nikulshina from Pussy Riot with Pyotr Verzilov and Carles Puigdemont, Catalan separatist leader, on stage at the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Alvaro Longoria, who made the film about the crisis sparked by Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid along with Gerardo Olivares, picked up the Cinema for Peace Foundation award from Puigdemont's hands in Berlin on Monday night.

SEE ALSO: The Puigdemont files: What you need to know about the case

As well as handing out the prize for “cinema for peace and justice”, Puigdemont delivered a speech against a trial which began Tuesday in Madrid of 12 Catalan separatist leaders over the secession bid.

He also appeared on stage as a German soprano sang “Don't Cry For Me, Catalonia” — a version of “Don't Cry For Me, Argentina” from the hit musical “Evita”.

“We returned the prize this morning. It became a political rally which we did not want to take part in,” Longoria told AFP by telephone from Berlin.

SEE ALSO: Hundreds rally in Berlin calling for Puigdemont's release

“We felt it did not represent the spirit of the documentary, which is neutral, and that it failed our professional ethics. We do not want to be a tool of information manipulation,” he added.

Longoria said he only decided to attend the ceremony after organizers promised the event would not be “politicized” and that Puigdemont would only hand out the award.

Olivares, the documentary's other director, declined to attend the ceremony after he learnt Puigdemont would be present.

Puigdemont, who fled Spain days after Catalonia's failed independence declaration on October 27th, 2017, is not among the 12 defendants in the dock over the secession bid. Spain does not try suspects in absentia for major offences.

The Cinema for Peace gala was attended by hundreds of guests, including British singer Bob Geldof, acting legend Catherine Deneuve and Free Democrats (FDP) leader Christian Lindner.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

It's official - people in Germany will get cheap public transport for three months this summer after the €9 ticket was approved.

Germany approves €9 public transport ticket for summer

As part of a host of energy relief measures to cushion the cost of living crisis, the German government is offering cheap public transport for the months of June, July and August. 

Monthly tickets will be available at a price of €9 (or €27 for all three months) and they will allow people to use all buses, trains and trams in local and regional transport throughout the country.

So even if people buy the ticket in Munich, they will also be able to use local and regional buses, trains and trams elsewhere in Germany, whether it’s Hamburg or Cologne. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

The ticket will not be valid, however, on long-distance transport such as ICE trains or Flixbus.

The offer was put together by the coalition government – made of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP.

The Bundestag voted for the initiative on Thursday, agreeing to give federal states a subsidy of €2.5 billion to fund the project. 

And on Friday, the Bundesrat – the upper house of parliament that represents the states – gave the green light to the ticket, paving the way for it to begin on June 1st. 

States had wanted an extra €1.5 billion funding boost to deal with lost revenue, however it would have been hugely controversial if they had blocked it.

READ ALSO: German states threaten to block the €9 ticket in the Bundesrat

During a debate on Thursday, federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) said the €9 project was “already a success”.

“All of Germany is talking about local public transport,” he said, adding that it is also being viewed with interest abroad. 

READ ALSO: ‘Fantastic’: Your verdict on Germany’s €9 ticket

The Left party (Die Linke) voted in favour of the €9 ticket, but leader Bernd Riexinger said he thought the plan didn’t go far enough. “Three months is simply too little,” he said.

The opposition, however, slammed the move. Christian Democrat Michael Donth called it an “expensive experiment”.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn will offer the ticket for sale as early as Monday. Local public transport providers across the country are also preparing their ticket machines for the initiative. It will also be available in travel centres.

People with subscriptions to local transport will automatically benefit from the offer. 

In some regions, such as Stuttgart and Freiburg, the ticket is already available for purchase.

READ ALSO: How to get a hold of the €9 ticket in Berlin

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