Berlin Jury Chief Meryl Streep: "We Are All Africans Really"

Meryl Streep
Getty Images

UPDATED: The 'Suffragette' star also wants more women atop the world's political leadership.

Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep wasted no time using her first-time role as a film festival jury head to discuss women's representation in the industry and politics.

"It's nice to be the boss," she told a Berlin Film Festival press conference Thursday to introduce her seven-strong panel. Streep will help choose the Golden and Silver Bear trophy winners at the 66th edition, with four women on the jury in total.

"This jury is evidence that at least women are included–and in fact dominate–in this jury, and that’s an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions, so I think that the Berlinale is ahead of the game," she said when asked about women's rights and the role of Berlin as a progressive film festival.

The Berlin jury this year includes French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher and Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska, in addition to actors Clive Owen and Lars Eldinger and U.K. film critic Nick James. And while not taking the bait to endorse Hillary Clinton as the first female U.S. president when asked to do so during the presser, Streep did call for more women to be political leaders worldwide.

"The globe should be represented half and half. I do think inclusion is the name of the game," the actress said. She also extended her message about global inclusion when answering a question about her knowledge of African and Arab films.

"The thing I've noticed from my [different] roles is there is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture. And, after all, we're all from Africa, originally. We're all Berliners. We're all Africans, really," said Streep. Berlin honored the actress in 2012 with a lifetime achievement award.

As head of the festival jury, Streep said she has already forbidden fellow members to read a booklet outlining the competition films and filmmakers. The 19-time Oscar nominee explained that she wanted everyone to view the competition movies with open eyes.

"It's such an unusual thing in the world now to come to something fresh, and to see without prejudging an idea of what you're about to see," she said. "To meet something fresh is almost impossible with all the chatter in our heads."

Last year's Berlinale jury was led by U.S. director Darren Aronofsky. The international jury will announce the winners of the official competition on Feb. 21.

Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m. Updated, with correction included, about headline and context of "We're all Africans, really" answer Meryl Streep gave to a question about her knowledge of African and Arab films.

comments powered by Disqus