European Film Academy CEO Matthijs Wouter Knol has denied he is a candidate to become the next director of the Berlin Film Festival.
Rumors were rife ahead of the Academy’s European Film Awards ceremony in Berlin this weekend that he was in pole position for the role.
The search is currently on for a new Berlinale director to replace Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek and Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian who are due to step down after the 2024 edition, with an announcement expected at press conference on Tuesday.
In an interview with Deadline ahead of the ceremony in Berlin, Wouter Knol categorically ruled out that he was in the frame, chiefly because he felt had a lot more to do at the European Film Academy.
“I’m not a candidate to go to a festival because I wouldn’t be able to do the same at a festival that I can do here,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who can run the festival brilliantly, but I don’t think there’s a lot of people who can do what I’m doing here.”
Other candidates rumored to be in the frame include Zurich Film Festival Artistic Director Christian Jungen, who would potentially bring stronger connections with the U.S. studios.
Rissenbeek and Chatrian have been jointly running the festival since 2019 under a dual management structure put in place following the departure of Berlinale long-time director Dieter Kosslick after 18 years at the helm.
German Culture Minister Claudia Roth announced at the end of August that her ministry and the Media Supervisory board of federal cultural events in Berlin (KBB), which oversees the Berlinale, had decided to scrap the dual management scheme and put the event back under the control of a single director.
She said at the time that she wanted the new director to be appointed by the end of 2023.
Rissenbeek had already announced she was stepping down as Executive Director. Chatrian expressed a desire to stay on at the festival but then said in September that he too would be leaving following the decision to scrap the dual management system.
The handling of his departure sparked anger in some quarters of the film industry with more than 300 film professionals signing an open letter protesting the “unprofessional” treatment of Chatrian.
Wouter Knol had been tipped as a front-runner for the role thanks to his experience working for the Berlinale, where he headed the Talent Campus from 2008 and became director of the European Film Market from 2014.
He left the festival in 2021 to become director of the European Film Academy, where he has been instrumental in expanding the body’s year-round activities and putting in place a strategy to boost the reach and influence of its annual awards.
Wouter Knol told Deadline that when he left the EFM for the European Film Academy, he had set himself long-term goals for his work at the body.
“When I took the role, I decided that with the career I still have in front of me, I wanted to put my shoulders into something where I could make a difference… and I’m certainly not finished with that job after three years,” he said.
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