Kristin Stewart said she was feeling the full weight of the responsibility of being jury president at the Berlin Film Festival at the opening press conference on Thursday.
“In full transparency, I’m kind of shaking. It’s not a weight that I don’t fully understand and feel… not buckling under, but I’m bolstered by a really beautiful, talented jury,” she said.
“I can’t wait to see who we all are at the end of this experience. It’s kind of what you want a festival to do cumulatively. I’m ready to be changed by all the films and changed by the people around us. I think that’s why we’re here.”
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She was joined on stage by jury members Iranian-French actress Golshifteh Farahani, German director Valeska Grisebach, Romanian director Radu Jude, US casting director and producer Francine Maisler, Spanish director Carla Simón, and iconic Hong Kong director and producer Johnnie To.
Stewart was quizzed on her criteria for a prize-winning film. Her reply suggests that under her jury watch the field is wide open.
“It’s an interesting thing to be, quote-unquote, ‘in charge’ of deciding what the best film is. It’s such an ephemeral notion. It’s quite obviously something that’s quite subjective. We could find we absolutely hate a film, but that the accomplishment is staggering. And the feat of it, the ambition was accomplished,” she said.
She said the important thing was to “mitigate some bias” and “open up to something new” as a member of a jury.
“Whether you like it or not, this festival in particular, historically is, in a positive way, confrontational and political. And I think that it’s very important for us to deprogram and be fully open to newness. I think that the diversity and the breadth of perspective is going to provide us with some new material that might be challenging and strange to adapt to, but I think the point is to pick the one that jumps out. You know, if we all can’t agree that’s probably because it’s pretty good. You know what I mean?”
The actress was momentarily flummoxed by a question on whether there were any contemporary, international films or directors that she particularly “appreciated”. Stewart described herself as “a loser” when she could not come up with names on the spot
“To be honest, I don’t want to take up time sitting here fumbling around and reaching for titles and filmmakers,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I don’t have the greatest answer to your question, but I do kind of want to unpack the libraries of everyone sitting next to me. That’s something that will be fun to do. But yeah, sorry. I’m a loser. I don’t have like a great list of stock filmmakers in my pocket for you.”
The Personal Shopper, Spencer and Charlies Angels actress, whose career straddles both mainstream and independent cinema, is currently preparing her own feature-length directorial debut, an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s best-selling book, The Chronology of Water, and has recently been announced for the titular role of Sontag about the writer Susan Sontag.
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