No one is as versatile as Meryl Streep. This is the first time she has been president of a film festival jury. Will she cause a surprise at the Berlinale?
Meryl Streep is the president of the Berlinale 2016. photo: dpa
There are talents that everyone can agree on so quickly that at some point they’re no longer really on the radar. There’s simply no need for discussion. Meryl Streep is one of those. Her name alone reads as a mark of quality in any film.
She embodies the difficult women, the unsympathetic and inscrutable ones just as well as the beautiful and empathetic ones. She herself is such an uncontroversial person that hardly anyone has noticed that the 66-year-old has never sat on a film festival jury. Until now.
With Streep as jury president of this year’s Berlinale, festival director Dieter Kosslik has scored a major coup. The actress was already in Berlin in 2012 to receive the Golden Honorary Bear for her life’s work.
Her life’s work is far from over: In the meantime, Streep has made eight more films; currently, the historical drama "Sufragette" is in theaters, in which she gives a face to the British women’s movement alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan. About her assignment in Berlin, she says with her usual humility, "The responsibility is almost a little intimidating."
Grande Dame of the dramatic gesture
Yet after four decades in the film business, Streep should have every reason to rely entirely on her competence. After a few years on Broadway, it was Robert De Niro’s performance in "Taxi Driver" that inspired her to pursue a career in front of the camera. As luck would have it, Streep made her breakthrough alongside De Niro in the war drama "The Deer Hunter" (1978).
This was followed by a leading role in the TV miniseries "Holocaust" and an appearance in Woody Allen’s love epic "Manhattan" (1979). With her role as a neurotic dime novelist in Susan Seidelman’s "The Devil" (1989), the actress finally succeeded in opening up another terrain in which hardly anyone can hold a candle to her to this day: comedy.
No one can throw herself onto beds, out of cars and at children’s necks with such wonderfully dramatic gestures and be as charming as Streep. The actress even manages to polish up mediocre films with her brilliant performance, as she proved as Margaret Thatcher in the biopic "The Iron Lady" (2011). With so much versatility, one may well be curious about the result of this year’s competition for the Golden Bear. One thing is clear: it won’t be simple-minded.