Cloud Atlas director Tom Tykwer has called for the issue of sexual harassment and abuse of power in the film business to be discussed in a wider context rather than focusing on individual cases. Tykwer was speaking at the launch of the 68th edition of the Berlin Film Festival, where he serves as president of the jury alongside the likes of Moonlight producer Adele Romanski and actress Cécile de France.
“It’s good that [the conversation] turns away from the individual person related cases and is taken serious from the point of view of content. It’s about work ethics and the abuse of power, which are very important, and sometimes you don’t talk about those because you only talk about people behaving badly and pointing the finger at these people,” he said.
“We all know it’s about something that’s not only predominant in the film industry but it’s about the essential problem of how vertical labor relations affect people who are at the bottom. This is something you see in all types of [work] relationships. This is being discussed in a way that focuses more on the actual issues and not on the others and that’s is what it’s important at the moment.”
Tykwer’s comment comes as the festival, and the European Film Market, kick off under the spotlight of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns. The festival has launched a number of events on the issue, including a panel discussion of sexual harassment, a counseling corner and a seminar that will encourage women who have suffered harassment to speak up.
Whether or not it was a coincidence, all of the jury members, which also includes former Filmoteca Española director Chema Prado, Japanese composer Ryūichi Sakamoto, and U.S. film critic Stephanie Zacharek, appeared to be dressed largely in black.
Romanski, who produced Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning Moonlight as well as David Robert Mitchell’s crime drama Under The Silver Lake, added, “As a producer I’m in the unique position of having hiring power so I have to be conscientious when making hires, whether I’m representing equally men and women or different races. I’m trying to lift up folks who haven’t been as represented before.”
Tykwer, who has opened a number of movies at the festival including Heaven in 2002 and The International in 2009, also responded to the letter that was signed by 79 German filmmakers including Maren Ade, Christian Petzold and Sebastian Schipper that called for a “new beginning” for the festival when chief Dieter Kosslick’s mandate is up next year.
The Babylon Berlin creator added that he did not sign the letter but that it’s not “extraordinary” that his peers wanted a “strong quest for a natural change.” However, he warned, “It has to be prepared with great care and cautiousness and needs to be taken seriously. We need to include all of the different sectors and ideas and representatives. The filmmakers love this festival and I don’t know a single person who is not longing for February to start in Berlin, because it’s extremely cold outside, it’s hard to survive but let the Berlinale start because it helps us charge up out batteries. People watch the most strange films in February that they would never want to watch in the rest of the year… this is extraordinary and this can’t be brought up at any film festival anywhere in the world.”