*Berlin, Germany – Freddie Bell flew eleven hours on two flights in search of great movies with international appeal to help jump start his new Chicago based distribution company.
Victor Perillo has more than 30 years experience as a Hollywood agent, but every year he travels to Germany for one week in February to meet film industry deal makers he might never meet in Los Angeles. And she’s a TED Talks presenter and screenwriter of Belle and Their Eyes Were Watching GOD.
Still Misan Sagay, a native of Nigeria, makes an annual trek to Germany from her home in London as a way to give back to new writers throughout Europe and around the world.
They play different roles in the film industry, but Berlin’s International Film Festival – also known as Berlinale – has something to offer each of them and the thousands of others from the African diaspora who look like them and attend the BIFF every year. This year, just as with other notable film festivals around the world, gender equality was the hot topic.
While many organizations such as Women In Film & Television pledged to fight for women to have better representation in decision making and production roles behind the scenes, festival organizers also committed their financial resources to work towards equal gender representation in film selection committees and directorships by 2020. Called 5050×2020, BIFF organizers say anything less than fifty percent gender representation is not enough. This year’s gender evaluation survey will help to determine how far the BIFF has to go to be in compliance with it’s own initiatives by this time next year.
Syrinthia Studer was in Berlin over the weekend to discuss diversity in the film industry. She was promoted to executive vice president of worldwide acquisitions for Paramount Pictures nearly two years ago. She said as a African American women – most times the only one in the room full of Paramount executives – Studer said she welcomes the chance to approve movies that promote authentic stories about people of color. Studer said she never calls people of color “minorities,” because when you count all the people of color, “the minority is the majority.”