BERLIN: In an avant garde move, Berlinale festival directors on Monday announced the 2021 edition of the movie gala will be merging the performance awards, paving the way for a gender neutral category.
Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, director duo behind the Berlin International Film Festival, also said the next year's showcase will be held as a "physical" event in accordance with the then-applicable rules and regulations, thus ensuring the greatest possible security for all guests amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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," the directors said in a press release on the festival's official website.
A hybrid model - blend of online and offline activities - is intended for the European Film Market (EFM), the release further stated.
"Festivals and markets are places of encounter and communication. This applies to the public as well as to the industry. We see an important and unique feature of festivals in their 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. We are pleased that festivals with physically present audiences are slowly taking place again around the world, and we wish our colleagues much success," added Rissenbeek and Chatrian.
Going forward, the awards for the best actor and best actress will be replaced by a "Silver Bear for Best Leading Performance" and a "Silver Bear for Best Supporting Performance" each awarded on a gender-neutral basis.
In addition, the "Silver Bear Jury Prize" constitutes a further new awards category.
The former "Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize" was suspended in 2020 due to new findings about the position of the first Berlinale director, Alfred Bauer, under National Socialism, and this prize will no longer be awarded in the future.
According to the release, the evaluation of an external specialist historical study on Alfred Bauer will be available in late summer and then published.
Moreover, it has already been decided that in 2021 the section Generation will only show feature-length films with a running time of at least 60 minutes - and no short films - in its two competition programmes Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus.
This year's edition of the Berlinale ran from February 20 to March 1, before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world.
The festival will take place from February 11 to 21.