Locarno chief Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek, managing director of promotion agency German Films, have been officially confirmed as the new co-heads of the Berlinale to take over from Dieter Kosslick when his contract is up after the 2019 edition.
Chatrian will serve as artistic director, handling film selection, while Rissenbeek will be festival manager, running the business of the fest, including organization and sponsorship. Previously, Kosslick had handled both roles.
Monika Grütters, the German state minister for culture and media who led the hiring committee, made the announcement today in Berlin.
Chatrian’s appointment had leaked to the German media earlier this week. The well-liked Italian, a former journalist, has been artistic director at the Locarno Film Festival since 2012. Alongside a strong roster of international arthouse films Locarno is known for attracting U.S. movies including Jason Bourne, The Big Sick and Atomic Blonde to its iconic Piazza Grande.
Rissenbeek has strong ties to the German industry and the appointment of a woman to the top role at a European festival will be widely welcomed. She becomes the first woman to lead one of Europe’s three main festivals: Cannes, Venice and Berlin.
Grütters said, “With our two new directors, we will make sure that the Berlinale will continue beyond 2019 – the last year under Dieter Kosslick’s direction – to be an audience-oriented festival with a political focus and an ambitious film program, while continuing to evolve. With Carlo Chatrian, the leadership will be younger, more international and open to experimentation. He also brings the artistic and curatorial skills which many experts and filmmakers had hoped for.
“Mariette Rissenbeek will be the first woman to lead the festival. She also stands for continuity and film management competence. She knows all the various film festivals and the German players and has a wealth of experience and an extensive network of contacts. With its new leadership team, even in this time of change in the film industry, the Berlinale will continue to play in the Champions League of film festivals, as it has for so long under the guidance of Dieter Kosslick. Thanks to his excellent work over the past 17 years, the Berlinale today has a larger audience than ever before. And with its consciously political profile, it has successfully maintained its position in the 21st century as an A-list film festival which is highly regarded internationally. The many people we spoke with around the world during the search once again confirmed that the Berlinale has an excellent reputation abroad.”
Last year, 79 German directors, including Maren Ade, Fatih Akin, Christian Petzold and Sebastian Schipper, signed an open letter calling for a “new beginning” after the Kosslick era in a bid to “revive” the fest, whose lineup some have criticized for its large size and perceived lack of Hollywood star power. Kosslick has held this post since May 2001 when he took over from Moritz de Hadeln.