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Locarno Film Festival Introduces Gender-Neutral Acting Awards

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The Locarno Film Festival is following the lead of A-list neighbor Berlin and going gender-neutral.

From 2023 on, Locarno’s acting honors will no longer be categorized according to gender — best actor and best actress — but be gender-neutral “best performance” and “best supporting performance” awards.

For the 76th edition of the Locarno Film Festival, set for August 2-12, 2023, the festival’s two main competitions, Concorso internazionale and Concorso Cineasti del presente, will each present two awards for the best performances.

Berlin was the first big film festival to take this step, last year handing out its first gender-neutral Silver Bears for best leading performance, which went to Maren Eggert for her starring role in Maria Schrader’s sci-fi screwball comedy. I’m Your Manand best supporting performance to Lilla Kizlinger for Bence Fliegauf’s Forest — I See You Everywhere. This year’s acting honors in Berlin again went to two women, with the best leading performance award being bestowed upon Meltem Kaptan for Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bushwhile the best supporting performance honor went to Laura Bausuki for Before, Now and Then.

Locarno said the move, unveiled on Wednesday, was part of a broader attempt to make the Swiss festival “an even more open and inclusive event, capable of fully representing its universe of talents” and part of Locarno’s commitment “to a culture of inclusion and gender parity.” In 2018, Locarno signed the programming pledge for parity and inclusion in cinema, which commits it to regularly publishing statistics showing the gender representation in its official selection.

“We believe that the choice we have made will further enhance our efforts to showcase and reward talent and creativity, transcending individual categories that are now obsolete,” said Locarno’s artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro. “The world is moving forward on a path that is most definitely non-binary.”



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