Berlin Film Festival Organizers Reject Petition to Lay Black Carpet in Support of #MeToo Movement

“Laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen,” says festival director

Organizers for the 2018 Berlin Film Festival have rejected the idea to lay out a black carpet to support the #MeToo movement despite pressure from a Change.org petition.

“We at the Berlinale firmly believe in the importance of the actions and debates around the #metoo movement. We fully understand the motivation behind Ms Eisinger’s petition. But for the festival, we made a conscious decision not to engage in ‘symbol politics,'” said festival director Dieter Kosslick in a statement obtained by TheWrap.

He continued, “the urgently-needed equality for women in the film sector will undoubtedly reinforce comprehensive changes in awareness of sexism and abuse of power, and perception of sex and gender roles. That will lead to changes in behaviour and a joint future, as the #blackcarpet petition calls for. But we want our activities to delve deeper into the @metoo discourse, deeper than our carpet allows. So laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen.”

The campaign to switch the carpet color from red to black was started by German actress Claudia Eisinger — the Change.org petition had over 23,000 signatures at the time of publication of this article.

“As an actress, I know how power structures can create insecurity and how overwhelming it can be to feel dependency, how much space there is for abusive behavior in professional hierarchies,” she wrote in German. “In Hollywood, the actresses wore black. In Berlin, we want a black carpet. It is our responsibility to show the world that sexual abuse, harassment, and discrimination against women no longer remain unseen — and not only in our business.”I

In response to attendees wearing black, Kossick said, “Everybody can choose how she or he want to walk the red carpet – freedom of expression.”

Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” will debut at the Palast on Thursday night.

Speaking at the press conference launching the 68th annual festival on Thursday, jury president Tom Tykwer was also asked about harassment in the film industry, which the festival is addressing in a conference titled “Culture Wants Change — A Conversation on Sexual Harassment in Film, Television and Theatre” on Feb. 19.

During the conference, he said the industry needs to move away from focusing on individuals and instead focus on wider harassment issues.

“It’s good that [the industry] turns away from the individual person related cases,” he said, according to Screen International. “It’s about work ethics and the abuse of power, which are very important, and sometimes you don’t talk about those because you only talk about people behaving badly and pointing the finger at these people.”

He added, “We all know it’s about something that’s not only predominant in the film industry but it’s about the essential problem of how vertical labour relations affect people who are at the bottom. This is something you see in all types of relationships. This is being discussed in a way that focuses more on the actual issues and not on the others and that’s is what it’s important at the moment.”

See Kosslick’s full statement below.

The debate that began with the Weinstein scandal is important and triggered the #metoo movement. “Me Too” has unmasked shocking dimensions of coercion and abuse. Above and beyond sexual violence, the public discourse has led us to challenge the balance of power and role models in society. We at the Berlinale firmly believe in the importance of the actions and debates around the #metoo movement. We fully understand the motivation behind Ms Eisinger’s petition. But for the festival, we made a conscious decision not to engage in “symbol politics”. With our programme of films and presentations we want to contribute to the public debate. We see the Berlin International Film Festival as a forum to draw attention to problems and provide impetus for initiatives; we support a variety of events that we hope will contribute to implementing real change.

The urgently-needed equality for women in the film sector will undoubtedly reinforce comprehensive changes in awareness of sexism and abuse of power, and perception of sex and gender roles. That will lead to changes in behaviour and a joint future, as the #blackcarpet petition calls for. But we want our activities to delve deeper into the @metoo discourse, deeper than our carpet allows. So laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen.”