The organizers of the Berlin Film Festival are resisting pressure to turn the focus of this evening’s premiere to the #MeToo campaign and have rejected a call to replace the red carpet with a black one. Chief Dieter Kosslick said he wanted the festival’s activities to “delve deeper into the #MeToo discourse, deeper than our carpet allows… So laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen.”
Separately, although there were rumblings of a movement afoot to encourage stars to sport only black on their way to the Palast for the debut of Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs tonight, we’ve heard that is not happening. Kosslick responded, “Everybody can choose how she or he wants to walk the red carpet – freedom of expression.”
A campaign to switch the color of the carpet to a more somber tone was supported by nearly 23,000 people who signed the Change.org petition launched by German actress Claudia Eisinger (Too Hard To Handle, Tatort).
In her petition, she wrote, “As an actress I know how power structures can create insecurity and how overwhelming it can be to feel dependency, how much space there is for abusive behavior in professional hierarchies… In Hollywood the actresses wore black. In Berlin we want a black carpet. It is our responsibility to show the world that sexual abuse, harassment, and discrimination against women no longer remain unseen — and not only in our business.”
Kosslick admitted that the scandals around the likes of Harvey Weinstein have “unmasked shocking dimensions of coercion and abuse. Above and beyond sexual violence, the public discourse has led us to challenge the balance of power and role models in society. We at the Berlinale firmly believe in the importance of the actions and debates around the #MeToo movement. We fully understand the motivation behind Ms Eisinger’s petition. But for the festival, we made a conscious decision not to engage in symbolic politics.”
He added that he wanted the films and events at the festival, which include a panel discussion of sexual harassment, a counseling corner and a seminar that will encourage women who have suffered harassment to speak up, to do the talking.
“The urgently-needed equality for women in the film sector will undoubtedly reinforce comprehensive changes in awareness of sexism and abuse of power, and perception of sex and gender roles. That will lead to changes in behavior and a joint future, as the #blackcarpet petition calls for,” he said.