9 November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first light coming through the Iron Curtain. To commemorate and celebrate this historic event, De Balie organized a two-day festival in November 2014.

Fueled by liberation movements such as the Polish labor union Solidarnósć and the Czechoslovakian intellectuals of Charta 77, civilians distanced themselves from the communist regimes and fought for freedom. Festival 89 confronted its audience with the expectations of 1989.

In a weekend filled with art, debate, theater and cinema, Festival 89 considered the impact of Die Wende, investigated European development thereafter and looked ahead at the continent’s future. How do we look back upon this revolt and the subsequent changes? What happened afterwards, with the introduction of democracy and capitalism in the former satellite states? The concept ’89’ represents hope for the future and faith brotherhood, open borders, capitalism and democracy. What value do these concepts have in today’s world?

During the festival the ideals of the period following Die Wende, the democratic development of Eastern Europe and the future of capitalism were all discussed by politicians, economists, artists, scientists and journalists from Eastern and Western Europe. Among the speakers was former Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg. Other guests who gave lectures and debated each other included Tomáš Sedláček, macro-economist for the largest bank of the Czech Republic, Slavenka Drakulic, Croatian writer, and Slawomir Sierakowski, Polish sociologist.

De Balie is a platform for free speech, contemporary art, politics and culture, based in Amsterdam. It has made a name for itself in the field of controversial debates and art projects and has become a meeting place for artists, politicians, thinkers, opinion leaders, scientists and the public.