The first major European film festival of the year, the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, is getting underway Thursday February 7th. It is kicking off with a statement against entertainment industry sexism by welcoming an unprecedented group of female directors.
The Berlinale, an 11-day festival which regards itself as one of the most politically-engaged of the film festivals, is presenting some 400 movies from around the world, and exploring hard-hitting topical themes which include rising extremism and economic exploitation.
The French actress Juliette Binoche heads a six-member jury at this year's festival.
"A lot of men don't get how women for generations have had to take a backseat," she told Der Spiegel magazine.
The top film festivals have long faced pressure to boost their female representation. For the first time this year, seven out of the 17 contenders will be women. “I think that's a good step forward, and ten years ago it was not like that," said Binoche.
Last year, with the #MeToo movement rocking the industry, "Touch Me Not" an innovative docudrama about sexual intimacy by Romania's Adina Pintilie won the Berlin festival’s Golden Bear award.
Denmark's Lone Scherfig’s "The Kindness of Strangers,” a bittersweet drama set in New York, will start the festival, while the winner will be announced on February 16.