With Berlin Film Festival chief Dieter Kosslick’s contract set to expire in 2019, a group of 79 prominent filmmakers has called for an overhaul of the Berlinale and is advocating a new procedure to find his replacement. In a letter signed by the likes of such fest circuit and foreign language luminaries as Fatih Akin, Maren Ade, Christian Petzold, Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, the filmmakers say the fest needs a “fresh start.”
With a reorganization of the directorate afoot, it offers the opportunity to “renew and revive” the festival. The group suggests a new selection committee be made up equally of men and women, and that the new chief be someone “passionate about cinema, well-connected worldwide and capable of bringing the festival on an equal footing with Cannes and Venice into the future.”
Since coming on in 2001, Kosslick has expanded the fest which bursts with offerings across various strands. It also regularly offers up strong contenders for the Foreign Language Oscar race, including this year’s On Body And Soul, A Fantastic Woman and Spoor.
While there have been some bigger Hollywood titles debuting at the fest in recent years either in or out of competition (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Cinderella, Fifty Shades Of Grey, Hail Caesar!) which have helped boost media attention, the competition’s eclectic, and largely political, curation has faced criticism. It’s also got a tough spot on the calendar, just after Sundance and just before the Oscars.
One name conspicuously absent from the signatories of the filmmakers’ open letter, which appeared at Spiegel Online, is Tom Tykwer who will preside over the fest’s jury in February next year.
Kosslick responded to the letter in a statement saying, “I can understand the director’s desire for a transparent process of redesigning the Berlinale.” He added that the appointment procedure is in the hands of the Minister of State for Culture and Media, Monika Grütters, and that the Supervisory Board had asked him to submit a proposal for a possible restructuring of the Berlinale.
Per Spiegel Online, Kirsten Niehuus, managing director of film promotion at Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, has been mentioned as a potential successor to Kosslick.