Berlin Film Festival to Sign Gender Parity Pledge

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Dieter Kosslick

Cannes and Venice have already committed to the pledge, which commits festivals to equal male and female representation in top management and to transparency in their selection process.

The Berlin International Film Festival will sign the 50/50 by 2020 gender parity pledge, following Cannes, Venice, Rome and several other leading fests in committing to the goal of equal representation, both in management and on the screen.

Berlinale boss Dieter Kosslick, who will step down following this year's festival, confirmed Wednesday he will sign the pledge on Feb. 9 at an event in Berlin sponsored by Women in Film and Television Germany.

The 50/50 by 2020 pledge does not mandate gender quotas, but calls for festivals to strive for gender parity in top management and for them to publish figures on the gender of the directors of films submitted every year.

Berlin may be the last of the big three European festivals to sign the pledge, but in terms of gender parity it is miles ahead of both Cannes and Venice. When Kosslick steps down after this year's fest, ending his 18-year tenure, he will be replaced by the duo of managing director Mariette Rissenbeek, who runs cinema promotion body German Films, and artistic director Carlo Chatrian, currently with the Locarno Film Festival.

Berlin's competition lineup this year — with seven out of 17 competition films, or 41 percent, directed by women — is also well ahead of the gender parity of Cannes (3 of 21) and Venice (1 of 20). 

Ahead of the pledge signing, European film industry group the Alliance of Women’s Networks on Feb. 8 will launch 10 percent for 50/50, a new European financial incentive program for gender-equal productions.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, the 50/50 by 2020 movement said gender parity is “a contemporary issue that (festival) programmers can no longer ignore ... for the first time in history, the press and the media are focusing on the topic and it challenges the festivals, the financiers and the market itself.”

The 69th Berlin International Film Festival is set to run Feb. 7-17.

Rhonda Richford contributed to this report.