Does the #metoo-debate take place at Berlinale?

26. February 2018

Are the issues expressed in the #metoo-debate a topic of discussion at the Berlinale? Our Berlinale Bloggers describe their experiences.

Philipp BühlerPhilipp Bühler – Germany: In 3 Days in Quiberon (3 Tage in Quiberon), a terrific portrait of Romy Schneider, we see how two journalists take advantage of a woman’s temporary weakness. This may well be the best contribution to the debate, without any sex at all. Quite generally speaking, I’d like to see less scandalmongering and more women in production. That aside, cinema could actually become more erotic instead of increasingly prude and erotophobic – though without concealing the seamy sides.

Camila GonzattoCamila Gonzatto – Brasil: 37.5 per cent of the films screened at this year’s Berlinale were directed by women. Gender equality is still a long way off, but the debate about it has certainly helped bring about an improvement. In the cross-section of films I’ve seen here, I’ve observed an increase in the number of leading female roles, with strong and relevant characters, which is also important for the construction of a less stereotypical female identity.

Grace Barber-PlentieFoto: © privat
Grace Barber-Plentie – Great Britain: 
For me, the most significant way in which the #metoo debate takes place at the festival is the way in which men are starting to acknowledge their behaviour. Most notable of this is a scene in High Fantasy in which a male character delivers a monologue about how men are trash. Does this include him? An off-screen interviewer asks. Oh yes, absolutely he says, saying again that ALL men are trash. It may be a small scene and a small step, but for myself it suggests that maybe men are starting to hold themselves accountable for their actions and become more involved in the debate.

Sarah WardSarah Ward – Australia: Actions need to speak louder than words, and the #MeToo debate needs to infiltrate more than just the supportive rhetoric surrounding the festival. With screening films the Berlinale’s main activity, its program can and should help pave the way. Indeed, as such a visible focal point for the film industry, the festival has an opportunity to lead by example — in programming work by female filmmakers, in the narratives it champions in its selections, in the panels and discussion sessions it offers, and in making a statement in what it chooses to omit as well.

Yun-Hua-ChenYun-hua Chen – China: Berlinale helped organize the seminar “Closing the Gap” with creatives and financiers on how to take action towards 50/50 by 2020. Meanwhile, Panorama section’s curation of Human, Space, Time and Human directed by Kim Ki-duk, who was recently accused of sexually assaulting an actress on the set of Moebius(2013) and found guilty of physical assault, and the consequent discussion surrounding sexual violence hypocrisy has intensified the #metoo-debate. It challenged Berlinale’s official position regarding the issue.

Andrea D'AddioAndrea D’Addio – Italy: This year’s Berlinale includes many films directed by or starring women. The Heiresses (Las herederas), Daughter of Mine (Figlia mia), Real Estate(Toppen av ingenting), 3 Days in Quiberon (3 Tage in Quiberon) and U – July 22 (Utøya 22. Juli) were written and produced, however, before the emergence of the #MeToo movement. They go to show that there are more and more opportunities for women to make and star in films. Let’s hope this trend continues in future.

Hikaru SuzukiHikaru Suzuki – Japan: The #MeToo debate is definitely present at the Berlinale. Kim Ki-duk’s film Human, Space, Time and Human, for example, contains some harsh scenes of sexual violence, which festival-goers have been talking about. In Stateless (Apatride), director Naris Nejar looks at the oppression of women in the border area between Morocco and Algeria. It remains to be seen to what extent these films and the Berlinale move the #MeToo debate forward.

Gerasimos BekasGerasimos Bekas – Greece: The #MeToo debate is to the Berlinale what extras are to a film set: you can’t do without them, but you don’t need to take them that seriously all the same. They’re in the way. It became clear in the run-up to the festival that the organizers had understood one thing in particular: if you completely ignore the debate, you get bad press. That’s why they left plenty of room for it. I didn’t notice it at all.

This blog post was originally published here and was republished with permission from Goethe-Institut.

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