Towards a genderless world, one film festival at a time
By Reya Mehrotra
We are moving towards a genderless world and major awards ceremonies and film festivals are moving away from male and female categories and embracing a genderless category that recognizes an artist on the basis of their performance rather than separating them.
In August, the Gotham Film & Media Institute announced that the Gotham Awards would be genderless. The Outstanding Main Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance categories replace the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. This decision was based on the 24-year-old Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award, which will be renamed the Gotham Breakthrough Performer Award and which has been genderless since its inception.
Berlin Film Festival
In 2020, the Berlin Film Festival announced the move to the category of non-sexist actor in the awards, which means that male and female actors will compete in the same category. In May this year, at the 71st Berlin Film Festival, the first-ever gender-neutral actor award went to German actress Maren Eggert. She received the Silver Bear for Best Performance for her role in the 2021 film I’m Your Man, in which she plays a researcher. Celebrities like Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton hailed the move that paves the way for a socially progressive environment in which actors with different sexual orientations are not discriminated against and left out.
San Sebastian Film Festival
Another film festival that has adopted a non-sexist avatar is the San Sebastian Spanish Film Festival. The 2021 edition had the new Silver Shell categories for Best Leading Performance and Best Supporting Performance which replaced the gendered Silver Shell for Best Actor and Best Actress awards. The first Non-Sexist Actor Award for Best Leading Performance was jointly awarded to Jessica Chastain and Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl.
Lucille Lortel Prize
The Lucille Lortel Awards for excellence in off-Broadway theater announced in October that the actor and actress categories for plays and musicals will be replaced by Outstanding Supporter Performer and Outstanding Lead Performer. A new category, Outstanding Ensemble, was also introduced for the first time.
The honors of pop music in Britain are the latest to get rid of separate categories. The Artist of the Year and the International Artist of the Year will be the two new gender-neutral categories replacing the gendered ones. The show will also introduce new categories like hip hop / gripe / rap, dance, alternative / rock and RnB pop.
Golden calf price
The Golden Calf Awards of the Netherland Film Festival take place every year in Utrecht. In 2021, they became genderless by removing separate categories for men and women. However, for the first time in the history of the awards, no woman has won film awards in the major categories. So, although progressive, this decision was criticized by many. The first gender neutral Golden Calves were awarded to Fedja van Huet and Yorick van Wageningen for their roles in De Veroordeling.
MTV Films and TV Awards
In 2017, MTV rejected both male and female categories for its film and television awards. Actress Emma Watson won the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, a category that included male and female nominees. Watson won the award for his role in the Disney remake of Beauty and the Beast. She beat Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy for the award for non-binary, gender-neutral actress Asia Kate Dillon.
Australia’s top music awards, the Aria Awards, went genderless starting this year by dropping the Best Man and Best Woman awards in the business. The awards have been replaced by the best artist, who will now have 10 nominees instead of five.
The Grammys have been genderless since 2011. However, they have often been criticized for the unequal distribution between the two sexes. In fact, 2018 saw #GrammysSoMale take off on social media after only male performers took home all the awards.
Emmys of the day
In 2019, the Daytime Emmy Awards heralded gender-specific changes. Their category in the Young Actor and Young Actress categories has been changed to Best Young Performer in a Drama Series. Additionally, performers who were eligible across all Daytime Emmy acting categories were encouraged to enter the category that best matches their gender identity. This year, the Emmy Awards announced the deletion of the words “actor” and “actress”. Instead, they adopted the word âperformerâ in order to be more gender inclusive.