Berlin Festival Director Touts the ‘Great Win’ of Getting Meryl Streep

The causes of migration and the global refugee crisis will be among the major themes at this year’s Berlinale, according to festival director Dieter Kosslick. And with the fest celebrating the 30th anniversary of its Teddy Award for movies with LGBT themes, the impact of queer cinema also will be in the spotlight. Plus, there’s Meryl Streep.

The refugee crisis is a major theme at this year’s Berlinale. Why?

We were founded in a time in which the biggest movement of refugees was taking place — in 1951. It’s always been part of the program. We will also have films that try to show and better understand the reasons behind migration, war and refugees, not just the consequences.

Meryl Streep is jury president this year — the first time she’s served on a film festival jury.

It’s a great win for us to have Meryl Streep, not only because she is one of the most nominated and awarded actresses and a spectacular international star, but also because she knows the Berlinale very well. There’s a longtime connection.

What are some of this year’s lineup trends?

Documentaries are very well represented — for the first time, we have two in competition. And France will be strongly represented in competition. There are thematic threads that reflect our current reality — we show people in different countries who find themselves in extreme situations due to political events.

What impact has queer cinema had in Germany and around the world?

In West Germany, at the beginning of the gay movement in 1971, Rosa von Praunheim’s “It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, but the Society in Which He Lives” triggered demonstrations nationwide, and stimulated emancipation groups in almost every town. There was the proof of how strong the impact of a film can be.

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