Berlin Festival Boss Dieter Kosslick Signs Gender Parity Pledge

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Dieter Kosslick

The departing Berlinale director touted the female representation in the festival's top ranks and competition lineup.

Dieter Kosslick, who will step down as director of the Berlin International Film Festival after this year's edition, on Saturday signed the 50/50 by 2020 gender parity pledge, following the lead of Cannes and Venice.

"It's a honor leaving this festival and signing such a thing," declared Kosslick before he committed the Berlinale to reach equal representation, both in its management ranks and on the screen. The fest's signing up to the gender equality initiative at an event co-hosted by Women in Film and Television Germany marks another signal that the days of male-dominated major film festivals are coming to an end.

"Next time, I think the gender will change in this chair," Kosslick said as he cited his successors, artistic director Carlo Chatrian, currently with the Locarno Film Festival, and managing director Mariette Rissenbeek, who runs cinema promotion body German Films.

The 50/50 by 2020 pledge does not stipulate gender quotas, only for festivals to aim at gender parity in top management roles and to reveal the gender of directors of films submitted every year. Kosslick touted many of the Berlinale's achievements already made in the area of female representation, including having seven out of 17 competition films, or 41 percent, directed by women this year.

That participation sets a new benchmark for female representation among competition titles at a major international film festival. Kosslick also cited a recent festival study which showed that women accounted for 63.3 percent of the directorial positions for the festival, sections and special series.

The event's film selection committee, which oversees the Berlinale competition and juries, is made up of slightly more than 80 percent women. "But there is still a lot to do to have gender equality," Kosslick told the Gender, Genre and Big Budget conference at the Berlinale, which kicked off Saturday with the pledge signing.

That event followed an Alliance of Women’s Networks event a day earlier that saw the launch of the 10 percent for 50/50 initiative, a new European rebate program for gender-equal productions.