Berlinale is Going Gender-Neutral in 2021

Important news on Berlinale 2021 includes the postponement of the Short Film category and the abandonment of gender-specific nominations. 

The Berlinale is a fun film affair taking place annually in the middle of cold and discouraging continental winter. Part of the most coveted Film Festival circuit, the festival attracts A-list talent yet feels ‘more relaxed’ compared to the big and mighty Cannes Film Festival.

And thus, the press and filmmakers rejoiced in learning that the Berlinale 2021 will take place ‘as a physical festival’. But this wasn’t the only news announced by the festival organisers in late August.

The implementation of the Festival and Market will take place in accordance with the then-applicable COVID-19 rules and regulations, thus ensuring the greatest possible security for all guests. Adjustments in the festival structure, film programming, and the total number of invited films will be defined by the festival management are yet to be announced.

The press release moreover declared “it has already been decided that in 2021 the section Generation will only show feature-length films with a running time of at least 60 minutes – and no short films – in its two competition programmes Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus.

2021: Performance Awards Gender-Neutral / New: Jury Prize

The Berlinale has reorganised the prizes awarded by the International Jury in the Competition. For the first time, the performance awards will be defined in a gender-neutral way. Instead of the awards for the Best Actor and the Best Actress, a “Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance” and a “Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance” shall each be awarded on a gender-neutral basis.

In addition thereto, the “Silver Bear Jury Prize” constitutes a further new awards category.

The former “Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize” was suspended in 2020 due to new findings about the position of the first Berlinale director, Alfred Bauer, under National Socialism – Bauer was an avid Nazi, you see – and this prize will no longer be awarded in the future. The evaluation of an external specialist historical study on Alfred Bauer will be available in late summer and then published.

The International Jury of the Competition will award the following eight prizes:

  • Golden Bear for Best Film (awarded to the film’s producers)
  • Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize
  • Silver Bear for Best Director
  • Silver Bear Jury Prize
  • Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance
  • Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance
  • Silver Bear for Best Screenplay
  • Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution

“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,” commented the director duo of the Berlinale.

And if our dear reader finds themself wondering what does it mean to filmmakers, attendees, and cinephiles – in simple terms it means fewer awards. Instead of ‘best female’ and ‘best male’ gongs, there will be only one. The editorial team of Ikon would deliberately like to avoid extrapolating who exactly will be judged to win the trophy. We can only hope the Berlinale won’t fall victim to ‘wokeness’ as so many have done to date – take RADA and Oscars for example.

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