In early June, we received a message criticizing us for having almost exclusively white members on our juries. After a productive discussion within the team, we would like to take a stand on this absolutely justified criticism.
We talked at length about how the jury process works, who is approached on which channels, what the criteria for selection are, and that the response rate is much lower than we would like. Diversity was definitely a factor in this search. However, this conversation also revealed some very fundamental problems, for which we apologize today. A central philosophy of the jury selection was to recruit the “old masters”. Big personalities of the film landscape, who are to judge the new generation of the industry. In this way, we also hope to achieve an advertising effect by associating well-known names with our festival. But, the implied problems herein are also manifold. In this context, probably the most important question is: What image of society and what structures are we reproducing with this approach? We are reproducing a system that structurally denies PoCs overall social visibility. This realization is fundamental for the development of a new approach.
As an international film festival, it is our duty to ensure diversity not only thematically, but also structurally. As gatekeepers, we have a responsibility to clearly define what we expect of our juries. Our philosophy must be that our juries reflect a diverse society and a multi-faceted audience. In order to do this justice, we have to break new ground, change our view of the industry, and contact institutions and multipliers that can help us achieve this goal. Particularly in recruiting the children’s and youth jury, it is important for us to expand our network of schools, clubs, and youth centers in this regard. We hope that these measures will help us to live up to our new standards.
However, we would like to thank all our jury members once again for their time, expertise and great cooperation. Nevertheless, we should have paid more attention to the aspect of diversity. We are still working on measures, ideas and concepts to ensure that our juries are more diverse in the future.