BERLIN: This month’s Berlin film festival, Europe’s first major cinema showcase in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, will shine a light on sexual misconduct in the industry, its director said Tuesday.
Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick told a news conference that the screenings and guests from Hollywood and the global film industry at the 68th edition would open up a long-overdue debate on rampant discrimination and abuse.
“The international resonance of #MeToo quickly made clear that the problem isn’t limited to Hollywood,” he said as he announced some 400 films set to screen during the 11-day event.
“The Berlinale sees itself as a forum where problems can be aired and it will host a range of events that should contribute to concrete change.”
He said these would include panel discussions on fighting sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry, generating financing for more female-led movies and getting more women into technical areas of filmmaking.
Berlin ranks with Cannes and Venice among Europe’s top film festivals and is generally considered the most politically minded.
Kosslick told a separate briefing for the foreign press that he had disqualified certain productions from participating this year — “less than five,” he said — because a director, screenwriter or star attached to the production was facing credible sexual misconduct allegations.
He declined to say which films were excluded.
Kosslick added that four of the 19 films in competition for the Golden Bear top prize were directed by women: “not great but there you go”.
The star-studded event will kick off on February 15 with the world premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs”, an animated feature voiced by stars including Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig and Liev Schreiber – all expected on the Berlinale’s red carpet.
It will be Anderson’s fourth turn in competition at the Berlinale following The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which kicked off the festival in 2014.
Steven Soderbergh is set to unveil Unsane starring Claire Foy of The Crown in a psychological thriller filmed on an iPhone about digital stalking.
Off-screen couple Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara are expected in the German capital to promote their latest feature, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot by US director Gus Van Sant.
It is based on a memoir by John Callaham about his experience turning to art after a car accident left him paralysed.
Other contenders include “Eva” by French filmmaker Benoit Jacquot, starring Isabelle Huppert as a femme fatale who wreaks havoc in the life of a prominent writer.
And Norwegian director Erik Poppe will present “U – July 22” telling the story of the 2011 massacre committed by neo-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik, told from the perspective of his 77 victims.
Willem Dafoe, currently nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actor for The Florida Project, will pick up an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement.
Tom Tykwer, one of the German directors behind the blockbuster miniseries Babylon Berlin now appearing on Netflix, will lead a gender-balanced jury including Belgian actress Cecile de France (The Young Pope), Moonlight producer Adele Romanski, Time magazine critic Stephanie Zacharek, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Spanish film historian Chema Prado.
In 2017 Hungary’s On Body and Soul, a tender love story set in a slaughterhouse, won the festival’s Golden Bear top prize and has now been nominated for a best foreign language film Academy Award.
Wolverine franchise capper Logan and Chilean transgender drama A Fantastic Woman, which also premiered at last year’s Berlinale, are also in the running for Oscars next month.