British actor Jeremy Irons to head 2020 Berlin film festival jury

Oscar-crowned British actor Jeremy Irons will head the jury at the 70th anniversary of the Berlin film festival this year,organizers said Thursday.

British actor Jeremy Irons to head 2020 Berlin film festival jury
The actor Jeremey Irons. Photo: DPA

“Jeremy Irons has embodied some iconic characters that have accompanied me throughout my journey in cinema,” Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian said in a statement, adding he was “proud to welcome him” to the festival.

“It is with feelings of great pleasure and not inconsiderable honour that I take on the role of president of the international jury,” Irons said.

Active in film since the 1980s after beginnings in the theatre, Irons won both the Best Actor Academy Award and the Golden Globe in 1991 for his role in “Reversal of Fortune” by Barbet Schroeder.

Over the decades he has appeared in dozens of productions across all kinds of films, ranging from blockbusters like “Die Hard: With A Vengeance” to the controversial film adaption of Vladimir Nabokov's novel “Lolita”.

His most recent film at the Berlinale was “Night Train to Lisbon” by Bille August in 2013, while he is currently on US small screens in HBO's comic book-based series “Watchmen”.

This year's edition of the film festival runs from February 20th to March 1st.

READ ALSO: Movie directors call for drastic overhaul of Berlinale Film Festival

The 11-day event prides itself on being the most politically engaged of the A-list cinema showcases, presenting hundreds of movies from around the world, most on hard-hitting topical themes.

Last year the festival made a statement against entertainment industry sexism by welcoming an unprecedented line-up of female directors.

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EXPLAINED: What to know about Germany’s youth culture pass

As of June 14th, anyone turning 18 this year can sign up for €200 worth of free books, music, theatre and cinema tickets under Germany's 'Kulturpass' scheme. Here's why and how they can use it.

EXPLAINED: What to know about Germany's youth culture pass

What’s Germany’s culture pass?

The KulturPass – or culture pass – is a bit like a voucher that young people in Germany can use to buy tickets to cultural events, or even products like books or sheet music.

Anyone turning 18 in 2023 – estimated to be about 750,000 people – can get their hands on the pass. They will have €200 credit that they can spend on a special culture pass platform over two years for event tickets and other cultural offers. 

It’s worth noting that the digital pass is available to all young people living in Germany, even if they don’t hold German citizenship.

How is it given out?

The pass won’t be handed out automatically – those who are eligible have to sign up and prove their identity and age. To do so, simply head to the Kulturpass website (you can change the language from German to English by clicking on ‘Profil’) or download the Kulturpass app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Cultural venues can also sign up to sell their tickets or entrance cards via the Kulturpass app and website, so they can get a boost to their sales by promoting it on this central platform.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in June 2023 in Germany

Why is Germany doing this?

The move follows similar youth culture projects by other countries, including France, Italy and Spain. 

The German government initiative has two major aims: the first is to give young people an opportunity to get out and experience live culture in a way they weren’t able to during the pandemic.

Culture Minister Claudia Roth said last year that she hoped the KulturPass would get “young people go out and experience culture, see how diverse and inspiring it is”.

This, the government hopes, will create the next generation of culture vultures. 

The second aim is to help give a boost to cultural institutions like theatres, galleries, live music venues and similar businesses. 

The culture industry was one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, due to the Covid shutdowns put in place by the German government to combat the spread of the virus. 

Venues have struggled to encourage people to break out of their pandemic habits and get out to live events again. 

What kind of events can young people go to?

The emphasis is on live events to get people away from their home and to give the arts scene a boost. Theatres and concert venues will likely be a popular choice, but also independent bookshops, art galleries, and small business cinemas.

Amazon, Spotify, big chain cinemas – those kinds of vendors are excluded. Instead, the emphasis will be on local, independent venues and higher culture like opera, theatre, and concerts, as well as books and music.

Are there plans to roll it out to other age groups?

At the moment, this is a pilot project for people turning 18 this year. Depending on how it goes, the government may be looking at plans to roll such a pass out for 16 and 17 year-olds as well.

To hear more on this story, tune into our Germany in Focus podcast episode released on Friday, March 26th.