No Dress Code for Berlin Film Fest Red Carpet

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Berlin Festival Director Dieter Kosslick

"I'm not going to turn away a woman wearing flats...or a man in high heels," said Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick, taking a poke at a dress code controversy in Cannes.

Whatever controversies pop up at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, Flatgate won't be among them. 

The term, coined in Cannes in 2015 as a critique of the French festival's policy of only allowing women in heels onto the red carpet, has become a symbol for sexism and discrimination at the world's biggest film fests. But not in Berlin.

On Tuesday, introducing the lineup for the 2018 Berlinale, Berlin festival director Dieter Kosslick pointed out that Berlin "never had a dress code" and wasn't planning on introducing one.

"I'm not going to turn away a woman wearing flats...or a man in high heels," Kosslick quipped, responding to a question about discrimination at this year's event.

But while men and women might be equal on the Berlinale red carpet, the Berlin fest is introducing new measures, including what it calls a “safe space policy” to combat discrimination and harassment. The move, which follows reports of widespread sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry, will see Berlin coordinate hotlines for visitors to report cases of discrimination or harassment they experience or witness.

Sundance took a similar tack this year, updating its code of conduct to try and prevent any inappropriate behavior and introducing a new 24-hour hotline to report offenses.

“The Berlinale is a festival that wants to embody democracy,” the festival said in a statement, “mutual appreciation and respect for others have been part of our self-image from the start. The current debate shows there is a need for action and we hope with our Safe Space Policy to actively contribute to that.”

The festival will also host a number of panels and discussions discussing the issues raised by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and debates.

The #MeToo movement, which started with accusations of sexual harassment and assault carried out by producer Harvey Weinstein, has long since gone global.

The first major case in the German industry broke earlier this year, when three actresses accused German director Dieter Wedel of sexual misconduct. On Monday, Wedel resigned from his position as artistic director of the Bad Hersfeld Theater Festival. He denies all allegations.

The 2018 Berlinale runs Feb. 15-25.