“Isn’t this woman wonderful?”: Iris Berben is a fan of Greta Gerwig

“Isn’t this woman wonderful?”: Iris Berben is a fan of Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is the jury president of the Cannes Film Festival this year. For actress Iris Berben, it’s “a great highlight.”

This year, Greta Gerwig (40), the most commercially successful filmmaker in the world, is leading the jury at the Cannes Film Festival. For actress Iris Berben (73), “it’s a great highlight. The path this woman has taken and the position she is in now is very impressive,” enthuses the 73-year-old in an interview.

Berben, who surprised everyone on the red carpet with blue streaks in her hair, has been committed to equality in the film industry for many years. This year, the actress is once again supporting the “Lights on Women Worth Award” in Cannes to promote aspiring female filmmakers. The initiative by L’Oréal Paris was launched in 2021 and is taking place for the fourth time this year.

What makes the Lights on Women Worth Award so special?

Iris Berben: It promotes young, talented female short film directors and thereby sends out an important signal – a signal against the existing gender inequality within the film industry. As long as the relationship between the sexes has not found the balance that we as women and as a society want, initiatives such as this award are of great importance. They raise awareness and encourage mutual exchange. We must keep putting our finger on the sore spot and be loud in order to bring about change. The award is a moment of strength in which women come together and look to the future together. Because the inequality in the film industry is evident on a variety of levels: from the casting of roles to the directing work to the allocation of funding.

This year, Greta Gerwig, the world’s most commercially successful director, heads the jury in Cannes – do you like her films?

Berben: Of course – isn’t this woman just wonderful? Regardless of the fact that I really liked her films like “Little Women” and “Lady Bird” – both of which she wrote and directed – Greta Gerwig has always impressed me as an actress. She was brilliant in “Mistress America”. The path this woman took and the position she is in now is very impressive. She embodies and combines three outstanding talents in one person – directing, acting and screenwriting.

Could you understand last year’s hype about Gerwig’s mega-hit “Barbie”?

Berben: Yes, what a brilliant idea this film reflects. The film manages to combine feminism with satire in an impressive way and to get the audience to engage with the important topic without falling into too much seriousness. With the personified, anti-feminist Barbie, the film forces discussion – in the best sense of the word. The film shows a complexity that is not revealed at first glance. The film and its plot lines therefore require targeted attention: questions are raised, behaviors and things are shown that stumble over as a viewer and that leave room for interpretation. With her work, Greta Gerwig has really pulled off a clever move that excites and inspires me and many other women.

Have you met Gerwig in person yet?

Berben: Unfortunately not, no. However, I would love to exchange ideas with such a fantastic, intelligent woman who embodies a generation of women’s struggle for visibility and equal treatment. I myself am a few decades older than her and yet I still see common ground in our visions. Because I too remember the time in the 1960s when we fought together for the perception of women. However, the meeting will initially remain just a nice thought, as I myself will only be in Cannes for a short time. I am all the more pleased to be able to look up to her as a member of the film festival jury.

Compared to 2023, the number of female directors participating in the competition has fallen from seven to four. Do you see this as a step backwards?

Berben: As long as the topic and the year-on-year comparisons are characterized by the need for discussion and there is no prospect of equality, this number is and will remain a step backwards. Only when we experience diversity as a matter of course – a reality in which men and women are equally involved in directing – will we be a step further. I am convinced that works by other female directors would also have been available if they had found their way to Cannes this year. Our collective goal must be to be able to make a selection from the best films based on a balanced gender ratio.

You have been a regular visitor to Cannes for many years. How much do you enjoy the red carpet on the Croisette?

Berben: Cannes thrives on glamour and making a statement. The need to show yourself and be seen is almost omnipresent and is celebrated all around. The attention and visibility that our industry is given here offers great opportunities: the space to skillfully make statements and to be able to convey them to the outside world. I have the honour of walking the red carpet together with other strong women from the L’Oréal Paris family, such as Helen Mirren, and in doing so, to convey the solidarity and power of women to the world. Sometimes I also manage to do this through smaller symbols along my dress, which I consciously place. It is precisely this variety of possibilities to embody and make visible statements and visions that make Cannes something very special for me.

How long does it take you to be perfectly styled for your big appearance?

Berben: I can proudly look up to a team that takes care of me and looks after me in every way. Within two to three hours I get a look that I can confidently walk down the red carpet with. I know I can rely on that blindly.

Do you also pay attention to your styling in your private life or do you sometimes leave the house without makeup?

Berben: I wear a lot less make-up in my private life, but I do think about how I look when I leave the house. For me, this is a kind of protective mechanism – where make-up accompanies me through everyday life like a little protective shield. I’m not talking about the kind of make-up that I enjoy at performances and big moments like Cannes, but rather about targeted accentuations and contouring of the face.

Which beauty routines do you swear by?

Berben: My motto: cream, cream, cream. This is a very central part of my beauty routine, which I hardly notice anymore. Creams with sun protection factor are particularly important in my everyday life, so that my skin is not exposed to the sun’s love unprotected. I am convinced that the way you treat yourself can have a positive effect on your self-esteem and well-being – and care certainly plays a very important role in this.

Source: Stern

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