This year, at Berlinale, the annual film festival held in Berlin, there is media chatter of a red carpet that should have been black in honor of the #MeToo movement. In my country a black carpet means someone died so I wonder, do we want to open a film festival, a festive event by definition, with a gloom and doom parade of stars on a drab black piece of carpeting? Isn't it enough that we woke up on its inauguration day to the news of yet one more totally avoidable shooting in the US?
'Ray Donovan' and 'Isle of Dogs' star Liev Schreiber honored the victims but also brought light on the incongruences of US gun policies with the post below on his Instagram account. Little more was said here in Berlin, because from afar we all can see the writing on the wall, and time after time, watch innocent lives taken away, families mourning and the media asking for change, to no avail.
Unfortunately, the US enforcement and justice system is designed to only punish someone once a crime, preferably a murder, has been committed. It is not meant to prevent delinquency, just penalize it after the fact. And the NRA, like Big Chicken and Big Pharma, hold the power to make and destroy entire communities, silence filmmakers, bloggers as well as put an end to lives. In Italy we have the mafia, but in the US there are entities far more powerful and dangerous, because they are supported by our Constitution.
This morning, after a restless night, I woke up to an enlightening Ted Talk on the hotel channel of my TV. Just as I turned on the set, there it was, Stefan Sagmeister's “The Power of Time Off” and how this successful NYC designer shuts down his studio for an entire year every seven, taking a true "sabbatical". His thinking is that when a job and career begin to feel like duty, it's time to reconnect to our calling -- that thing which makes us happier, more productive and refreshes our way of thinking.
Sagmeister is a creator, an innovator and his graphics and projects we deal with in our everyday life, even if we don't realize it. As someone who weaves words together, at my best I'm not changing the world even close to as much as he does. I never will probably. Yet something he said jumped out at me and while I struggle with this period of adjustment, after the HuffPost has decided to do away with its bloggers and independent voices to accomodate the common thread of news shared by all other outlets, Sagmeister's words jolted through me: "In branding, sameness is overrated."
So how does that apply to me, I'm hardly a brand, just a blogger who follows her instincts and dances to her own drum... Well, in fact, this whole being turned upside down made me wonder if following my heart was really the thing to do. I mean, I never made any money from my writing at the Huffington Post and yet the satisfaction I got out of it was priceless. The meetings that came out of those seven years plus, the encounters, the films I got to watch, some which will probably never see the light of day, changed my life.
But here I am now starting over, pitching "cinema with a conscience" and fashion within the movies as a means to change our outlook -- to editors who think I'm speaking in tongues. I have a vision that is a proven vision, beauty and kindness can change the world, and yet, even through the official HuffPost explanation to the end of their Contributors' program was because "the quantity and volume of noise means truly being heard is harder than ever. Those who are willing to shout the loudest often drown out new, more-deserving voices. The same has proven to be true on our own platform." I'm wondering how that's any different from what I profess... Yet they managed to make what I did, what I wrote sound "dirty" and wrong.
So, while I refuse to start marching to a sameness drum, I will try to continue onward in this sea of misogyny and attitude, which has not been made better by the recent sexual harassment scandals, but rather worse. I continue to count men among my biggest, most wonderful supporters but I see that support system dwindling, because lets face it, we women are making it as easy to work with us as a porcupine is to pet.
Finally, to those who may want to find a way to criticize the Berlinale, here at the festival they are actually right on top of the discussion. Leading up to it they sent out a special email to all participants pointing out their "NO to discrimination!" campaign and supplying their attendees with special phone numbers and counseling centers of several German organization in case they feel victimized while in Berlin.
This is my first festival in the Western world after the Weinstein allegations started this whirlwind in Hollywood and the one thing I have noticed so far at Berlinale is that women journalists seem to be even less now.
And we don't get to ask as many questions.