The 2018 Berlinale not only marks the festival’s 68th edition, it is also Europe’s first major film festival since the Harvey Weinstein revelations rocked the film industry. The festival’s long-time director, Dieter Kosslick, has taken a clear stance on the issue, embracing the #MeToo Movement and vowing to shine a light of sexual misconduct in the industry.
Embracing the #MeToo movement
This year the Berlinale will open up a platform for a long-overdue debate on rampant sexual abuse and discrimination, particularly in the film industry. The festival’s chief, Dieter Kosslick, said the 68th edition’s screenings and guests from Hollywood and the global film industry would encourage this discourse. Kosslick also announced that the festival will host several 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. The festival’s program also reflects its stance with plenty of films portraying strong female leads. This is a shift away from the usual role of muse, victim, seductress or sidekick that women have been lumped into for years. Many of Berlinale’s high-profile movies, like Eva, Unsane and Damsel, put women in the driver’s seat.
There is still some criticism
Despite Berlinale’s efforts, the festival is not without some controversy. Abused South Korean actress accused the festival of hypocrisy for inviting director Kim Ki-Duk, who is accused of sexually and physically assaulting her. The actress, who refused to be publicly identified, told the press agency AFP that she found ‘the decision to invite Kim deeply sad and extremely hypocritical.’ According to Paz Lazaro, head of the Panorama section where the director’s latest work will have its world premiere said the invitation was a deliberate decision made in order to ‘contribute to the difficult but important issue.’ Dieter Kosslick also weighed in on the issue, telling AFP that the Berlinale was aware of the accusations and that he had been convicted and fined for physical abuse. Kosslick also noted that the sexual harassment allegations had been dismissed for lack of evidence. However, many are still critical of the decision, pointing out that her courage to speak out is a rarity in South Korea’s male-dominated film industry.
Politics is no stranger at Berlinale
Berlinale film festival is among Europe’s top film festivals, along with Cannes and Venice. However, it is generally considered more political and is no stranger to embracing and creating space of societal and political discourse during the festival. While the festival’s stance on #MeToo has not been without criticism, Kosslick points out that he had disqualified certain productions from participating this year because a director or screenwriter or star attached was facing credible sexual misconduct allegations. In this sense, the festival is trying to put its best foot forward to prop up and support women in film.