Indiewire reports that the Museum of Modern Art has fired Sally Berger, an assistant curator in the film department. She had been with the museum for 30 years. In a statement, Rajendra Roy, the chief curator of MoMA’s film department, said that the news comes as a result of “several complex and substantive issues, and are the result of a long and deliberative process that Sally has been part of. As painful as this decision has been, I stand by it.”
The news follows earlier reports that Berger had withdrawn the film Under the Sun, a documentary about North Korea, from the museum’s Doc Fortnight Festival. The North Korean government had allowed the film to be shot after the director, Vitaly Mansky, signed a contract that the government would supply the script, cast, and other production aspects. Midway through the shoot, however, the government stopped allowing Mansky access to certain locations, and he stopped cooperating under the terms of the contract previously laid out for him.
Citing what happened when Sony Pictures tried to release The Interview, a film that spoofed North Korean politics and was subsequently met with hacking threats, Berger had expressed concerns about screening Under the Sun, according to Indiewire. She ultimately emailed the film’s distributors to say that the critically acclaimed film would no longer be screening in the festival.
“Under the Sun is a remarkable documentary that was wrongly disinvited from the 2016 Doc Fortnight program, a decision made by the festival’s curator without my knowledge or input,” Roy said in a statement provided by the museum. “MoMA has a long tradition of showcasing films that challenge and inspire audiences to explore different perspectives, and we would be proud to show Under the Sun at the Museum.”