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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Berlinale will provide a forum to air #MeToo issues

"The international resonance of #MeToo quickly made clear that the problem isn't limited to Hollywood," said Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick

‘Unsane’, a psychological thriller about digital stalking starring Claire Foy, will be unveiled in Berlin. Fingerprint Releasing / Bleecker Street
‘Unsane’, a psychological thriller about digital stalking starring Claire Foy, will be unveiled in Berlin. Fingerprint Releasing / Bleecker Street

This week’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 says.

Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick says that screenings and guests from Hollywood and the global film industry at the event’s 68th edition will open 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 added as he announced the 400 or so films set to screen during the 11-day event, which starts on Thursday. “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 says these will 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 alongside Cannes and Venice among Europe’s top film festivals and is generally considered the most politically minded. Kosslick told a separate briefing that he has disqualified certain productions from participating this year – “less than five” – 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 vying for the Golden Bear top prize were directed by women – “not great, but there you go”.

The star-studded event will kick off 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 to be 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 about digital stalking filmed on an iPhone. 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 American 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 Benoît 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.

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Read more:

Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig: Hollywood will shift quickly

Despite setbacks, women are closing the gender pay gap. But there’s still plenty to fight for

Why unequal pay should be as socially unacceptable as sexual harassment

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Tom Tykwer, one of the German directors behind blockbuster mini-series Babylon Berlin now on Netflix, will lead a gender-balanced jury including Belgian actress Cécile de France (The Young Pope), Moonlight producer Adele Romanski, Time magazine critic Stephanie Zacharek, Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Spanish film historian Chema Prado.

Last year, 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 at the Academy Awards. Wolverine franchise capper Logan and Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman, which also had premieres at last year’s Berlinale, are similarly in the running for the Oscars next month.

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