Berlinale Awards Turn Gender-Neutral

Berlinale Awards Turn Gender-Neutral

Berlinale Awards Turn Gender-Neutral

Performance awards for the 2021 festival will be gender-neutral.

Performance awards for the 2021 festival will be gender-neutral.

Text: Jared Peraglia

The Berlin International Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, will dissolve awards that categorize performers on the basis of sex at next year’s festival.

Two gender-neutral awards — the Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance and Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance — will combine the traditional male and female categories making room for gender non-conforming talent.

“We believe that not separating the awards in the acting field according to gender comprises a signal for a more gender-sensitive awareness in the film industry,” the directors of the festival Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said.

The announcement was met with an array of celebration and skepticism on social media. Some users on Twitter criticized the festival’s decision citing that it will harm female performers' chances of recognition as the majority of film roles are written for male talent.

Berlinale’s decision came as the festival announced its 2021 event will take place in-person despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was able to screen all of their selected 2020 films before the pandemic forced many festivals to go digital.

“In times of the corona pandemic, it has become even clearer that we still require analog experience spaces in the cultural realm,” Berlinale festival directors said.

An audience at The Berlin International Film Festival.

Some of the world’s biggest film festivals are adopting a hybrid model and screening some official selections online due to health risks presented by the pandemic. Most festivals, like The Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival, are hoping for the best but planning for the worst.

Director of the Sundance Film Festival Tabitha Jackson released a statement earlier this year dictating that the 2021 festival could span across multiple cities.

“The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will be a grand partnership of communities,” Jackson said. “It will take place live in Utah and in at least 20 independent and community cinemas across the U.S. and beyond.”

The Tribeca Film Festival is keeping a movie theatre experience alive by traveling across the country delivering drive-in movie experiences to a number of cities. The festival’s website says programmers are on a mission to bring communities “back together safely”.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Berlinale.

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