Gender-neutral Berlinale: a big flop?

The Berlinale film festival, which takes place every year in February, has decided that its performance prizes will be gender-neutral from next year on. Instead of for "best actor" and "best actress", the festival's Silver Bear trophies will be awarded for best leading and best supporting performance. The move aims to promote more gender awareness in the film industry, the organisers said. The decision has drawn a barrage of criticism in the commentary columns.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

In the Western intellectual bubble

Communications expert Richard de Seze finds the decision naive in Le Figaro:

“The world is groaning under the wight of all kinds of atrocities, people are dying of hunger and despair, all over the world there are open or latent wars of an economic, political, religious and ideological nature. And the agents of Good convince themselves - and want to convince us - that reality is really a world of symbols, a purely intellectual and social construct that they can rearrange as they please. ... These fanatics of the New World will only win victories in the West, which is itself reduced to its commercial sphere, and to its most marketable products and most subsidised arts - in short: in the small world of the enlightened. The rest of humanity remains in the dark.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

No gains for equal opportunities

This certainly won't serve the cause of gender equality, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“It will be more irritating than anything else for women if gender equality is to be achieved by making changes in the one category in which women have not been underrepresented up to now, if only because it belongs to them alone. ... It's often said that the director's awards so often go to men because there are far fewer films made by women. According to this logic, more actor awards will now go to men because there are far more roles for men. And if this turns out not to be the case, people will say that the prize was awarded to someone just because she is a woman and the jury gave in to 'gender obsession' - as has often been the case when women directors received an award.”

Gazeta Polska Codziennie (PL) /

Without the desired impact

Gazeta Polska Codziennie also sees the changes as pointless:

“The decision by the organisers of the Berlin International Film Festival to no longer award separate acting prizes for men and women starting next year can only be described as absurd. It is unclear what motivated them to take this step. How do you make gender more visible, by making a distinction or by not making any distinctions? Common sense suggests that it is precisely the distinction that provides room for a stronger perception.”