Berlinale abandons gender division of acting awards

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71st International Film Festival, Berlin

The jury of the Berlin Film Festival will no longer award prizes for the best male and female roles.

They will be replaced by gender-neutral awards:

  • Best Lead;
  • Best Supporting Actor.

The directors of the Berlinale, Carlo Chatrian, and Mariette Rissenbeek are going to hold the event with all the safety measures necessary to protect guests and spectators. The online format is not considered. The Berlinale’s official announcement says that festivals and film markets are places for meetings and communication. Their most important and unique feature is live interaction with the audience. The film screening will take place from 11 to 21 February 2021.

However, changes are still coming. The main innovation will be the reorganization of the prizes in the main competition. The managers decided to move away from the gender principle in the awarding of acting awards. Their number will not change. The actors whose works will be noted by the jury will continue to be awarded two Silver Bears but not for Best Male and Female Role but for Best Lead and Best Supporting Actor. They believe that the lack of gender-specific awards in the acting field is a signal to raise the film industry’s gender awareness.

The Berlinale was the first of the major world film festivals to take such a step. Although the practice itself is not unique. For example, in the second most important program of the Cannes Film Festival “Unusual View” in recent years, only one actor’s award is presented – for the best performance. However, in the main competition, Cannes still adheres to the classic rules and awards the best actors and actresses.

In addition, from 2021, the Berlinale will abolish the award, which was named after the first festival director, Alfred Bauer, and was awarded for opening up new perspectives in cinema. It will be replaced by a separate jury`s prize.

For the European film market, which is the most important part of the festival, a hybrid model is being considered: its screenings are likely to be held both offline and online. The details of the Berlinale will be announced later.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many world film screenings in 2020 were forced to either cancel all events or move them to the virtual space. In May, the Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious of the European ones, did not take place. Now moviegoers and industry representatives are waiting for the opening of the Venice Festival. It might take place from 2 to 12 September. It has already been announced that all its guests, including the stars of the first magnitude, will be obliged to keep their distance and wear masks both inside and outside cinemas.

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