The new Berlinale boss Tricia Tuttle (53) wants to show larger film titles on the screen at the International Film Festival in the future. “We are not talking about a comprehensive, radical change to the program,” Tuttle told the German Press Agency in Berlin. “I think it’s just about evolution and clarity and maybe reclaiming some of the bigger film titles for the Berlinale over time.” The American took over the directorship of the film festival at the beginning of April.

Tuttle emphasized that she would like to see productions shown at the festival have more influence on the international film business. It’s not about changing the way the program is designed. Rather, she wants to help distributors, program designers and critics find films in the program in order to distribute them to a wider audience in the international market.

Tuttle succeeds the dual leadership of Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek. This is the first time that a woman is at the helm of the Berlinale. She only recently moved to Berlin, she said. Now she is learning German. Things are progressing well, but slowly. German is a difficult language.

Tuttle already knows everyday life as festival director well

The 53-year-old appears self-confident. After all, she knows the day-to-day life of being a festival director well: in England she ran the BFI London Film Festival and the London LGBTQIA Film Festival – the acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer and others. She also held senior positions at the British Film Institute (BFI) and the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA), for example.

The new leader expects a first public challenge this Wednesday in the Bundestag: The controversial incidents at the Bear Gala will then be discussed in the Culture Committee. In addition to Tuttle, former Berlinale managing director Rissenbeek and Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) are also expected.

During the closing gala in February, the Middle East conflict was mentioned several times. Numerous jury members and award winners called for a ceasefire in the Gaza war verbally or with badges. Statements also spoke of apartheid in connection with the situation in the territories occupied by Israel and of genocide with regard to the army’s actions in Gaza.

Tuttle: This year was very difficult for the Berlinale team

Afterwards there was numerous criticism including accusations of hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism. “I know that this year has been very difficult for the team. No matter what the festival team did, someone was always dissatisfied. That’s a big burden and a lot of stress,” said Tuttle, referring to the debate.

“I think it was unfortunate that in the end we no longer talked about the films and the directors, but rather about the discourse and politics around them.” This year, as an outsider, she understood that the debate in Germany was a little different than internationally. “I think filmmakers from outside don’t fully understand the sensitivity when it comes to the question of how to interpret anti-Semitism here in Germany.”

Tuttle expects the process to be ongoing. It is true that people cannot reach agreement on political issues such as the Middle East conflict through film festivals alone. But films could change the way we think about the world. “I think cinema is one of the few cultural spaces right now where understanding can take place. Telling stories allows us to see the world through other people’s eyes and through other lenses,” Tuttle said. The Berlinale should remain a space for dialogue across national, cultural and political ideas. “It’s a place where people can learn from each other and listen to each other.”

More clarity in section profiles

Tuttle still has some time before her first Berlinale. The 75th edition of the film festival is scheduled for February 13-23, 2025. She has already planned a lot. She would like to create clearer demarcations in the Berlinale series again. “The program was great.” However, she hears from distributors, critics and visitors that they find it “a bit difficult to find your way around the sections”. There could be more clarity there. Tuttle also wants to create a multi-level management structure. There are currently a number of positions advertised on the Berlinale website, including top positions.

She wants to pay attention to German films and talent. When she went to Great Britain, she noticed that many Brits looked down on the cinema there. “Sometimes I have the feeling that this is also the case in Germany, but there are great films here.” Ilker Çatak’s Oscar-nominated drama “The Teacher’s Room” blew her away.

Tuttle also wants a diversity of voices and perspectives within the festival – for example in the representation of female directors. “Most festivals have now started to spotlight, promote and showcase female filmmakers,” says Tuttle. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done in the film industry – “especially when you look at the films in the top 100 international box office grosses, which are still dominated by male filmmakers.”