Lupita Nyong’o Makes History as First African Jury Head at Berlinale Film Festival

By Duchess Magazine

Lupita Nyong’o, the renowned actress known for her roles in films like Black Panther and 12 Years a Slave, has made history as the first African to head the jury of one of the world’s largest film festivals. The Berlin International Film Festival, also known as Berlinale, is in its 74th year and has never had a black jury head until now.

Nyong’o’s jury will be responsible for selecting the winners in the festival’s two main categories, the Golden and Silver Bear. This milestone is significant in light of the criticism faced by the top five international film festivals—Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Sundance, and Toronto—for their lack of diversity and representation.

In a statement, Nyong’o expressed her belief that the jury’s diversity would enhance the selection process, stating, “That’s the beauty of bringing people together from different backgrounds – we respond to different things.”

The Berlinale, which began on February 15, 2024, will run until February 25. The festival will feature about 200 films across various genres, lengths, and formats, with twenty vying for the main categories at the Award Ceremony on February 24. The opening film, “Small Things Like These,” directed by Tim Mielants and featuring Matt Damon and Cillian Murphy, sets a tone of anticipation and excellence.

Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, the directors of the Berlinale Film Festival, praised Nyong’o, stating, “She embodies what we like in cinema: versatility in embracing different projects, addressing different audiences, and consistency to one idea that is quite recognizable in her characters, as diverse as they may look.”

Nyong’o’s appointment as the jury head at Berlinale represents a significant step forward in the festival’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Her presence and perspective are expected to enrich the festival’s experience and contribute to a more diverse and representative selection of films.

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