Berlinale 2024: Lupita Nyong’o, The Festival’s First African Jury President

The Film Festival, Berlinale International Jury with head Lupita Nyong'o (4th from left) in Berlin on Feb. 15, 2024. - Copyright © africanews Markus Schreiber/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Lupita Nyong’o, an Academy Award-winning Kenyan-Mexican, is making history by leading the Berlinale’s international jury.

The 74th Berlinale Film Festival kicked off Thursday (February 15) with the announcement of the international jury.

For the second year in a row, the jury is led by a female expert. Kristen Sewart, a US actress, presided over the 2023 International Jury.

This year’s jury is led by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and consists of actor-directors Brady Corbet and Jasmine Trinca, directors Ann Hui, Petzold, and Albert Serra, and Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko.

Lupita Nyongo, a newbie to the job of a film jury, expressed her delight to gather experience and collaborate with her jury colleagues: “It is an honour to be here, a deep pleasure.”

“This is my first time attending the Berlin Film Festival. And I feel greatly honoured to be the president of this year’s festival,” she said.

“It’s a chance to get to experience a whole lot of films from around the world. There’s quite the selection here, that is representative of a lot of world perspective. And I get to do it with prolific artists, that I deeply respect and that have a whole lot more experience doing this kind of thing than I do. So, this is a chance for me to learn a lot about the world of cinema and to celebrate it,” she told the opening presser.

The panel will be tasked with screening twenty films contending for Silver and Golden Bears, which will be handed to the winners at the February 24 Award Ceremony.

The festival begins today (Feb. 15) with filmmaker Tim Mielants’ Irish-Belgian drama “Small Things Like These”. The lead actor is Cillian Murphy, who has been nominated for an Oscar for his work in “Oppenheimer,” and the producer is Matt Damon.

The festival runs till February 25.

According to the Berlinale, the festival’s numerous categories and special shows feature over 200 films of diverse genres, lengths, and formats.

Versatile and consistent actress

Nyong’o is the first African president of the Berlinale panel, which picks winners of the Golden and Silver Bear honors.

The majority of the festival’s jury presidents have come from Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, or France.

“Lupita Nyong’o embodies what we like in cinema: versatility in embracing different projects, addressing different audiences, and consistency to one idea that is quite recognisable in her characters, no matter how diverse they may look,” Berlinale directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said late last year.

Since her 2014 Oscar triumph, the 40-year-old producer has achieved success in many roles, including warrior Nakia in “Black Panther” and its sequel, Adelaide Wilson in horror film “Us,” Nakku Harriet in “Queen of Katwe,” and a children’s novel “Sulwe”.

Nyong’o won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave”.

She has received numerous honors, including NAACP and Image honors, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Black Reel Awards.

73-year history

In 1951, the festival was founded for the Berlin public with the goal of becoming a “showcase of the free world”. The Cold War had just started.

Along with Cannes and Venice, the Berlinale is one of the world’s major film festivals, and it is widely regarded as the most political.

The FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) certified the festival in 1956, adding to its stature. This is generally referred to as the awarding of “A status.”

This accreditation required the festival to follow FIAFP rules and created the door for the establishment of an international jury of experts. This panel assumed responsibility for awarding the festival’s top prizes, which had previously been decided by the crowd.

Political questions on Putin, Israel, German politics, and Ukraine dominated Thursday’s (February 15) press conference.

One question that was posed constantly and could not be avoided was about the AfD party invitations to the festival.

Last week, organizers declined to invite representatives of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, to the opening gala.

Five AfD lawmakers were expected because representatives of all parties in Berlin’s state assembly are invited to events funded by the public.

In recent weeks, Germany has seen significant rallies against the extreme right in response to reports that organizations convened to discuss deporting millions of immigrants, some of whom had German citizenship, and that some AfD members were present.

Written by PH

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