Berlin Film Festival Makes Awards Acting Categories Gender-Neutral

Festival is also planning an in-person event for 2021 edition

Berlin Film Festival
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The Berlin Film Festival has renamed its acting prizes to make them gender-neutral for the 2021 edition of the festival. Rather than a Best Actor or Actress prize, actors and actresses will compete against one another for the Silver Bear for a Leading Performance or a Supporting Performance.

They’ll be competing in what is planned to be an in-person, physical festival for the Berlinale’s 71st edition

“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 director duo of the Berlinale Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said in a statement Wednesday.

That’s not the only change made to the awards. One of the festival’s top prizes has been renamed to the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize after it was reported back in February that the award’s namesake, Alfred Bauer, the festival’s first director, was found to have Nazi ties. The festival adds that an evaluation on Bauer from an external, historical specialist will be available in late summer and then published.

Moving forward, the Berlinale’s international jury 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

Though the festival intends to be in-person for 2021, which runs between February 11-21, the European Film Market will still be a hybrid physical and virtual event.

“Festivals and markets are places of encounter and communication. This applies to the public as well as to the industry. We see an important and unique feature of festivals in their lively relationship with the audience. In times of the corona pandemic, it has become even clearer that we still require analogue experience spaces in the cultural realm”, Rissenbeek and Chatrian said in a statement. “We are pleased that festivals with physically present audiences are slowly taking place again around the world, and we wish our colleagues much success.”

The marketplace will be done in accordance with applicable rules and regulations from the local government, and additional adjustments to the festival structure will also take place. The programming and the total number of invited films will be defined by management within the coming weeks. And one of the festival’s sections, the 2021 “Generation” section, will only show films with a running time of at least 60 minutes, with no short films.


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