Berlin film festival kicks off in the shadow of #MeToo

Berlin film festival kicks off in the shadow of #MeToo

Berlin film festival kicks off in the shadow of #MeToo

The 2018 Berlinale kicks off with the world premiere of Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs and a star-studded gala that will include Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum, all members of film's voice cast.

With the global cinema industry in turmoil over allegations of rampant sexual misconduct, the 11-day event will be seeking a delicate balance between Hollywood glamour and frank debate in the wake of powerful producer Harvey Weinstein's downfall.

But even before the opening, 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.

The actress, who has refused to be publicly identified, has accused the festival - traditionally a strong champion of Asian cinema - of "hypocrisy" for inviting Kim to present his latest picture, "Human, Space, Time and Human".

Amazon Video Direct has added the Berlin Film Festival to its expanding Film Festival Stars program, which launched in 2017 at Sundance.

"We are living in this unfair reality in which a physical assault offender is working and being welcomed everywhere as if nothing happened, while the victim who spoke out against the abuse is being isolated and marginalized", the alliance of about 140 civic groups said in a joint statement sent to AFP.

"Obviously the Berlinale condemns and opposes any form of violence or sexual misconduct", Kosslick said.

An online petition, started by a German actress, to symbolically switch the gala carpet to black in solidarity with the #MeToo movement, had garnered almost 23,000 signatures.

It will be Anderson's fourth turn in competition for the Berlinale's Golden and Silver Bear top prizes following "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou".

In this year's festival, German director Tom Tykwer will head the jury. In 2017, Amazon says, more than 175 feature films took advantage of the FFS program at four film festivals, netting more than $9.5M in cash bonuses.

Isle of Dogs, made in the stop-motion style of Anderson's much-loved Fantastic Mr Fox from 2009, is set in a fictional Japanese city in which the evil mayor banishes all the hounds to an island garbage dump after an outbreak of canine flu.

Local boy Atari embarks on a rescue mission to track down his beloved pet Spots with the help of the island's furry occupants.

Kosslick pointed out that the films screening in Berlin this year, and several events, including a panel discussion on sexual harassment, would do a better job of addressing the real issues of sexism and abuse of power in the film industry.

Some 19 films are taking part in the competition for the coveted Golden Bear award which will be announced on February 24. But an actress a year ago accused him of sexual and physical abuse, saying he forced her into unwanted, unscripted sex and nude scenes and slapped her repeatedly while shooting his 2013 award-winning film "Moebius" before replacing her with another actress.