Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ opens Berlinale
BERLIN - AFP
Stars and activists seized on the opening of the Berlin film festival on Feb. 15 to spotlight the #MeToo movement, expressing hope that rampant sexual abuse in the global entertainment industry can be stopped.
The 11-day event, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year, kicked off with the warmly-received world premiere of acclaimed US director Wes Anderson's new animated feature "Isle of Dogs."
Actors Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Murray, who voice the pack of pooches in the movie, said that the time had come to revolutionize the approach to sex and power.
"I look at it as a great thing that the pillars of misogyny are falling," Cranston said, expressing shock at the "abhorrent behavior" that had come to light since more than 100 women accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape.
Goldblum, 65, said he was optimistic that "pages are being turned and chapters are being newly conceived" where "equal treatment and empowerment of women" are "the order of the day without exception."
Murray said the outpouring of anger had given him more empathy for the opposite sex.
"To be a woman is to be sized up at all times, often -- it's animal. And I don't know if I would enjoy it," he said.
With the industry in turmoil over waves of allegations against powerful industry players, the Berlinale is seeking a delicate balance between Hollywood glamour and frank debate in the wake of Weinstein's downfall. But even before the festival opened, controversy erupted over the inclusion of award-winning South Korean director Kim Ki-duk, who was fined in December for assaulting an actress on set.
On Feb. 15, a coalition of more than 100 South Korean civic groups kept up the pressure, releasing a statement condemning the festival's stance.
Meanwhile an online petition calling for the Berlinale to lay a black carpet instead of a red one as a sign of support for sexual assault and harassment victims drew 21,000 signatures.
The festival rejected the call, but some guests wore black to the "Isle of Dogs" premiere, following a similar solidarity gesture at last month's Golden Globe awards.
And German actress Anna Brueggemann launched the Twitter hashtag #NobodysDoll to encourage female stars to abandon the high heels and low-cut gowns common at gala screenings for more "comfortable" clothing.
The competition features 19 films, four of them by female directors.
"Isle of Dogs," which drew enthusiastic applause, was made in the stop-motion style of Anderson's hit "Fantastic Mr Fox" from 2009. It was the first animated film to open the Berlinale, now in its 68th year.
Among other high-profile entries at the event are "Damsel," billed as a feminist Western starring Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska, and French noir thriller "Eva" featuring Huppert as a smouldering femme fatale.
Steven Soderbergh is set to unveil "Unsane" starring Claire Foy of "The Crown" in a psychological thriller shot on an iPhone.
British actors Idris Elba and Rupert Everett will each make their directorial debuts with, respectively, the West Indian drug gang drama "Yardie" and the Oscar Wilde biopic "The Happy Prince."
And Norwegian director Erik Poppe will present "U - July 22" based on the 2011 massacre by neo-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik and told from the perspective of his 77 victims.
The prizes will be presented at a gala ceremony on Feb. 24 before the festival wraps up the next day.
Last year, a tender Hungarian love story set in a slaughterhouse, "On Body and Soul," captured the Golden Bear. It is now nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film.