Berlin Film Festival Awards to become Gender neutral; Manoj Bajpayee, Nandita Das share their views

Festival to introduce new awards category called ‘Best Leading Performance’ irrespective of gender.

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Celebrities have always been discussing about ‘Gender-Equality’ in Bollywood industry, be it regarding the screen-time of the character played or the ‘equal pay’ to the actors irrespective of gender. Recently organizers of famous ‘Berlin Film Festival Awards’ have announced that with next year they shall start a single award category called ‘Best Leading Performance’ with cancelling categories like Best Actor or Best Actress. According to a report by Hindustan Times, the very aim of their move is to establish an award category which is beyond any gender.

Be it any award function in India or overseas, the classification of the awards on the basis of gender is quite common. However gender neutrality shall facilitate LGBTQA community to participate and receive awards. Nandita Das, who has been into the films quite a long said to Hindustan Times, “The large community of LGBTQA which either is most often not represented or is forced to choose a gender that they may not want to, will surely benefit from this. It is time we acknowledge gender fluidity and appreciate this important move towards inclusivity.”

Talking about neutrality versatile actor Manoj Bajpayee stated, “If anything is making a statement, I am all for it. Gender equality is something that is the need of the time. We all should focus on ability, whichever gender that you are, whichever religion you follow, it shouldn’t matter. I am not interested in that at all, but what ability a man or woman possesses. Other awards should take a cue from this. Whether they take it or not, but this is going to have a long term impact on all festivals,” as put by Hindustan Times.

This initiative by Berlin Film Festival Awards gives the opportunity to look at the roles played by actors beyond the gender. However the concern of more awards been given to male actors than female actors again arises. Talking about the same, Alankrita Srivastava director of films like Lipstick Under My Burkha says, “I do hope this does not mean that female actors will be sidelined and prizes will be given to men more substantially than women. Because when it comes to the top film festivals in the world like Cannes – we know that female filmmakers rarely get awarded. So there has to be a mechanism and a consciousness to guard against the sidelining of female actors and other non-male actors.”

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