The 74th Berlinale is set to be an exciting event this year with a record-breaking 20 films from an impressive 30 different countries vying for the prestigious Golden and Silver Bears. You read it correctly, due to the numerous co-productions participating in the festival, the competition boasts a greater number of involved nations than film titles. These countries span the globe from Austria (represented by the initial letter A) to the United States (represented by the letter U).
As the festival opens its curtains on February 15th, the Irish-Belgian literary adaptation, “Small Things Like These” will set the stage for the event. In its entirety, the 74th Berlinale will feature a staggering 239 productions, inclusive of 56 short films. The festival has hand-picked 204 fresh works from a whopping 8,035 submissions, alongside 35 historical pieces that are featured in the retrospective, the Homage, and the Berlinale Classics with restored films. However, this figure is approximately 50 titles fewer than the previous year’s count.
Earlier in the summer, the festival’s management team, Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek, made public the cutbacks caused by austerity measures. This reduction also led to the total cancellation of two segments: the “Perspektive Deutsches Kino” and the “Berlinale Series”. However, Chatrian assured in an interview with Tagesspiegel that the number of German films included in the program this year has not decreased. To illustrate, the festival includes 35 German productions (and an additional 21 co-productions), compared to 34 the previous year. With the retrospective “The Other Cinema” solely dedicated to German films, the total number of purely German works comes to 61, a significant increase from the 44 in the previous year.
One can’t help but scrutinize the representation of women in this grand event. According to the festival’s dossier, the number of female directors among the current contributions has been meticulously calculated. The tally reveals that out of 122 directors, 83 are women (making up 36 percent), along with 5 non-binary individuals and 2 people who chose not to disclose this information. These percentages are roughly identical to those of the previous year, 2023. Interestingly, the proportion of films directed by women among the submissions is slightly lower at 35 percent. However, this rate improves marginally through the program selection.
Despite these strides in gender representation, there is still ample space for improvement, especially in the competition. Only six out of the 22 directors are female (with two films having dual directors), constituting 27 percent. This is a decrease from the previous year, which boasted a 6 percent higher representation. Male dominance is also still prevalent in production, with only 28 percent of the entries coming from purely or predominantly female-led productions.
However, the Berlinale team itself is set to see a significant shift in gender representation. Starting from April 1st, Tricia Tuttle will take the helm of the festival, boosting the proportion of women in leadership from 50 to a full 100 percent. This marks a historic first in the history of the Berlin Film Festival.