Berlin filmfest turns focus on women, Netflix

Ahead of the festival a craftsman works on a bear trophy at Berlin’s Noack fine art foundry. Photo: AFP

Women directors and the rise of streaming services will take the spotlight at the Berlin film festival starting Thursday, with a star-studded lineup making the case for big-screen diversity.

The Berlinale, now in its 69th year, figures with Cannes and Venice among Europe’s top cinema showcases. It will be the last edition led by Dieter Kosslick, 70, who is handing over to a younger duo after 18 years at the helm.

Nearly 400 movies from around the world will be presented, with 17 vying for the prestigious Golden Bear top prize.

Among the contenders, seven of the pictures or 41% were made by women – a Berlinale record and a milestone for an A-list festival.

In comparison Cannes, which has been roiled by calls for more diversity, only managed 14% last year and Venice just under 5%.

“The debates of the last year opened our eyes and when your eyes are open, you make different decisions,” Kosslick said, referring to the #MeToo controversy over sexual misconduct and the #TimesUp movement against gender discrimination in the entertainment industry.

“But we wouldn’t have done it if the films had been bad, simply to boost the women’s quota.”

French Oscar winner Juliette Binoche will lead the six-member jury selecting the main prizes.

The head of pressure group Women and Hollywood, Melissa Silverstein, said that, particularly in a year in which not a single female filmmaker was nominated for best picture or best director at the Oscars, festivals were essential to boost industry diversity.

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