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Berlin International Film Festival Rejects #MeToo-Supporting Black Carpet at Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Premiere

Festival director Dieter Kosslick politely dismissed a Change.org petition with 23,000 signatures; meanwhile, director Kim Ki-Duk faces controversy.

Wes Anderson'Isle of Dogs' premiere, 68th Berlin Film Festival, Germany - 15 Feb 2018

Wes Anderson at the ‘Isle of Dogs’ premiere

People Picture/Jens Hartmann/REX/Shutterstock

To the chagrin of #MeToo activists and 23,000 petition signers, Berlin International Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick dismissed a request to lay down black carpet for guests attending Thursday’s opening-night premiere of “Isle of Dogs,” the latest Wes Anderson film. Deadline reports that Kosslick — who will step down when his contract ends in May 2019 — said he wants to “delve deeper into the #MeToo discourse, deeper than our carpet allows,” and thus “laying out a black carpet at the Berlinale is not the path we have chosen.”

(L-R) Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson and Tilda Swinton arrive at the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 68th annual Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), in Berlin, Germany, 15 February 2018. The Berlinale runs from 15 to 25 February.Opening Ceremony - 68th Berlin Film Festival, Germany - 15 Feb 2018

Tilda Swinton, Wes Anderson, and Greta Gerwig on the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 68th annual Berlin International Film Festival

Philipp Guelland/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

The Change.org plea to change the carpet color from red to black was drafted by German actress Claudia Eisinger. “We fully understand the motivation behind Ms. Eisinger’s petition,” Kosslick said. “But for the festival, we made a conscious decision not to engage in symbolic politics.”

Director of the Festival Dieter Kosslick, gestures as he arrives at the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 68th annual Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), in Berlin, Germany, 15 February 2018. The Berlinale runs from 15 to 25 February.Opening Ceremony - 68th Berlin Film Festival, Germany - 15 Feb 2018

Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick arrives for the festival’s opening ceremony

Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

In addition, Kosslick responded to a suggestion that the film’s star-studded cast planned to wear black, echoing the monochromatic visual protest of January’s Golden Globes, by proclaiming, “Everybody can choose how she or he wants to walk the red carpet — freedom of expression.” Kosslick ultimately opted for a black ensemble himself; Anderson and his “Isle of Dog” voice actors Tilda Swinton, Greta Gerwig, Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston, and Bill Murray wore primarily black outfits for their stroll into the screening at the Palast theater.

Jeff Goldblum Bill Murray Bryan Cryanston Berlin International Film Festival

Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, and Bryan Cranston at the opening ceremony of the Berlin International Film Festival

Coldrey James/action press/REX/Shutterstock

This year, the 68th annual festival’s program includes the panels “Closing the Gap. A Seminar With Creatives and Financiers on How to Take Action Towards 50/50 by 2020,” and “Culture Wants Change — A Conversation on Sexual Harassment in Film, Television and Theatre.” Kosslick said that the predatory allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others have, “unmasked shocking dimensions of coercion and abuse. Above and beyond sexual violence, the public discourse has led us to challenge the balance of power and role models in society. We at the Berlinale firmly believe in the importance of the actions and debates around the #MeToo movement.”

The festival’s 2018 jury president, German director Tom Tykwer (“Cloud Atlas”), made it known at the February 15 kickoff press conference that although he supports the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, he wants to focus less on individual offenders. “It’s good that [the conversation] turns away from the individual person-related cases and is taken serious from the point of view of content,” Tykwer said, seated alongside jury members like “Moonlight” producer Adele Romanski and Time magazine film critic Stephanie Zacharek. “It’s about work ethics and the abuse of power, which are very important, and sometimes you don’t talk about those because you only talk about people behaving badly and pointing the finger at these people.”

Tom TykwerPress conference of the international jury at the 68th International Film Festival Berlinale, Berlin, Germany - 15 Feb 2018

2018 Berlinale jury president Tom Tykwer

Max Bertani/action press/REX/Shutterstock

Besides the black-carpet debate, the hours-old Berlinale faces yet another #MeToo-related dispute. South Korean writer-director Kim Ki-duk has been invited there to screen his newest work, “Human, Space, Time and Human,” in its Panorama section. Yet according to Variety, last year an unidentified actress from his 2013 film “Moebius” sued Ki-duk for sexual assault, an accusation he denied. The case was dismissed, but Ki-duk was ordered to pay a settlement for slapping the actress on the first day of filming, what he described as an “acting lesson.”

“Berlinale Panorama has decided to eschew prejudgment and will present Kim Ki-Duk’s most recent film ‘Human, Space, Time and Human’ in the 2018 Panorama program,” read a statement from Kosslick. “However, the Berlinale condemns all kinds of violence on set — be it of sexual or other origin.”

Kim Ki-DukOpening Ceremony, 73rd Venice Film Festival, Italy - 31 Aug 2016

Kim Ki-Duk at the 2016 Venice Film Festival

Maria Laura Antonelli/REX/Shutterstock

Read More: 10 Must-See Films at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival

Panorama section head Paz Lazaro also spoke out about the controversial selection: “Kim Ki-Duk’s film ‘Human, Space, Time and Human’ broaches the subject of violence perpetrated by men against their fellow humans, in part through the use of graphic images, and can be understood as an allegory on savage humanity. We made a conscious curatorial choice in selecting the film for presentation, and in inviting the filmmaker to discuss the film. Kim has agreed to participate in this debate and any debate that may go beyond the film itself. We decided not to accept quick answers to complicated questions, and we want to create a space for open dialogue — in the cinema and beyond.”

The Berlinale continues through February 25.

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