Berlin 2024: Lupita Nyong’o makes history at German Film Festival

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Kenyan actor Lupita Nyong’o has made history at the Berlin Film Festival by becoming the first black person to head the Berlinale jury.

The festival, which showcases new pieces of cinema from across the world, is known for being one of the big five global film festivals. However, during its 74-year history, Berlin had not had a black jury head.

Nyong’o has, therefore, made history, and she will be responsible for leading the jury, which will make selections in the two main competition categories – the Golden and Silver Bears.

Across the big international film festivals, Berlin, Venice, Cannes, Sundance and Toronto, there has been repeated criticism for a lack of diversity of its juries.

At Cannes, Spike Lee became only the first black jury president in 2020, although now it looks as though other festivals, starting with Berlin, are taking diversity more seriously.

When the Berlinale opened on Thursday (February 17th), Nyong’o expressed her “great honour” at taking on the role and said that diversity would bolster the jury’s ability to judge films.

“That’s the beauty of bringing people together from different backgrounds – we respond to different things,” Nyong’o said. The actor is known for her Academy Award-winning performance in 12 Years A Slave.

The Berlin Film Festival has been marred by political controversy this year, and a number of protests have already taken place. Nyong’o said of the unique atmosphere this year, “We have a lot of world experience and opinion, and it’s gonna be interesting. It’s probably also gonna be spicy.”

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