The Berlin International Film Festival will scrap separate prizes for women and men next year in favour of gender neutral awards.
Organisers said today the new performance awards will be in place for the 2021 festival, due to be held in February.
The ceremony awards the prestigious Golden Bear for the best film and a series of Silver Bears for other categories, which usually include Best Actor and Best Actress.
Officials said those prizes will now be replaced with a Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance and a Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance.
Winners of the 70th Berlin Film Festival celebrate with their awards on stage on February 29 2020
The most recent UK recipients for Best Actress and Best Actor were Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in 2015 after the pair starred in 45 Years
In a statement, the co-heads of the festival, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, said ‘not separating the awards in the acting field according to gender comprises a signal for a more gender-sensitive awareness in the film industry.’
Last year, German film star Paula Beer was crowned Best Actress for her performance in Undine, while Italy’s Elio Germano won Best Actor for his role in Hidden Away.
The most recent UK recipients for Best Actress and Best Actor were Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in 2015 after the pair starred in 45 Years.
In other changes to the festival, the flagship Alfred Bauer Prize, which is named after the festival’s founding director, will be permanently retired.
The prize was suspended this year due to revelations about Bauer’s role in the Nazis’ film-making bureaucracy.
The Berlin Film Festival, one of the industry’s biggest events in Europe, normally draws 480,000 filmmakers, movie stars and fans into the cinemas of the German capital.
Last year the UK’s Helen Mirren was the recipient of the festival’s honorary Golden Bear award
Officials also sought to quash fears over the decision to hold a physical event next year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two directors stressed the need for a ‘lively relationship with the audience.’
‘In times of the corona pandemic, it has become even clearer that we still require analogue experience spaces in the cultural realm,’ they said, noting that other festivals have also resumed holding physical rather than virtual events.
The 2021 festival is scheduled for February 11-21, and this year’s festival was one of the last major events that took place before the coronavirus pandemic largely shut down public life in Germany.
Cannes, the world’s biggest cinema showcase, usually held in May on the French Riviera, was abandoned following a two-month lockdown in France to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
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