Big news, film nerds: The Berlin Film Festival is making the switch to gender-neutral acting awards in 2021, removing their separate awards for best actor and actress. According to Indiewire, it’s the “first major international film festival to switch up how it awards its acting prizes based on gender.”
Previously, the festival awarded a Silver Bear, the second highest award, for individual achievements, with the Golden Bear, the highest, being awarded to films and lifetime achievement honorees. The two acting awards, Best Actor and Best Actress, under the Silver Bear were the only awards that were separated by gender.
Now, instead of separate categories by gender, the Silver Bears for acting will be honoring lead and supporting performances. A press release from the festival reads, “Instead of the awards for the Best Actor and the Best Actress, a ‘Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance’ and a ‘Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance’ shall each be awarded on a gender-neutral basis.”
“We believe that not separating the awards in the acting field according to gender comprises a signal for a more gender-sensitive awareness in the film industry,” festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian also said in the press release.
ICYDK, the Berlin Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, is a major film festival. It’s known as one of the “Big Three,” the other two being the Cannes and the Venice Film Festival. Considering how influential this festival is, it’s not completely off base to hope that this major change is going to make waves in the industry.
Featured photo screengrabbed from the “Undine” movie trailer. Its lead actress, Paula Beer, was the latest recipient of the Best Actress Silver Bear