BERLIN, Germany, February 21 ------ Europe's first major film festival of 2020 opens on Thursday, February 20 with the likes of Signourney Weaver, Helen Mirren and even Hillary Clinton descending on the German capital for the 70th edition of the Berlinale. Under new direction for the first time in nearly two decades, this year's festival will tackle the issue of diversity in film while also confronting its own murky history. The 11-day Berlinale kicks off late Thursday with My Salinger Year by Canadian director Philippe Falardeau.
The film about the New York literary scene of the 1990s, features Alien star Weaver alongside Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Some 340 films from all four corners of the globe will be showcased, with 18 competing for the prestigious "Golden Bear" prize. The winner will be announced on February 29 by an international jury headed by British Oscar winner Jeremy Irons. Carlo Chatrian and Marlene Rissenbeek are taking over the reins of the Berlinale from Dieter Kosslick who stepped down after 18 years at the helm in 2019.
The new duo's aim was to "give room to diversity", Chatrian said, as debate continues to rage over female and ethnic minority representation in Hollywood. Nevertheless, only 6 of the 18 films in competition are directed by women, one fewer than the previous year. "Six films is not 50/50, but it's a good path to reach it," Chatrian said at a press conference in January. Last year, Kosslick had signed a "50/50" pledge to commit the festival to gender parity in future, calling for transparency in selection and an even gender ratio in top management.