Berlin Film Fest kicks off in the shadow of #MeToo

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BERLIN (AP) — The curtain went up Thursday at the annual Berlin International Film Festival with the world premiere of Wes Anderson's new animated film, "Isle of Dogs."

The first of the major European film festivals this year is overshadowed by the sexual abuse scandal that has hit the film industry in the United States and spread to other countries across the globe. It unfolded after actresses came out with allegations of rape and sexual harassment against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

"The international resonance that #MeToo has been met with has quickly made it obvious that the problem is not confined to Hollywood," the festival organizers said in a statement. "Across the world, the individuals affected by such abuse have found the courage to go public with their stories."

The organizers said they had created a special counseling center at the festival where both audience and participants of the festival could go if they experience or witness discrimination, harassment or abuse.

Germany has its own scandal: Dieter Wedel, a prolific director of German television dramas, resigned last month as head of a theater festival following allegations of sexual misconduct. Several women claimed that he pressured them for sex. Wedel has denied the claims.

Germany's Culture Minister Monika Gruetters announced Thursday on the sidelines of the festival that her ministry will give 100,000 euros (124,000 dollars) for a permanent counseling center for victims of abuse in the media and film scene in Germany that will start its work in March, the German news agency dpa reported.

On the cinematic level, German director Tom Tykwer will head the jury at the event's 68th edition, which will run through Feb. 25.

Some 19 films are taking part in the competition for the coveted Golden Bear award which will be announced on Feb. 24.

The festival's opening movie, "Isle of Dogs," is set for release in U.S. movie theaters in March and internationally in April. It will be the first animated film to open the Berlin festival, and the fourth movie Anderson has presented in the event's competition. Most recently he brought "The Grand Budapest Hotel" to Berlin in 2014.

Anderson's movie features the voices of Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton, among others.

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Kirsten Grieshaber


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