Film Festival Abandons Actress, Actor Awards, Calling Gender 'Social, Political Construct'

Spain's San Sebastián International Film Festival is abandoning award categories for best actor and actress with its festival director calling gender a "social and political construct."

Now, the Silver Shell award will go to the best leading performance and best supporting performance, the festival's organizers announced Tuesday, as the festival takes on a gender-neutral stance.

"The change arises from the conviction that gender, a social and political construct, is no longer a criterion that we follow to distinguish between performances," said José Luis Rebordinos. "The criterion for the jury will be to distinguish between good and bad performances."

The new gender-neutral categories will be in place for the festival's 69th year as it is set to be held in September.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Film Reels Against a Window
Film reels lean against a window on opening day of the 28th Telluride Film Festival August 28, 2001, in Telluride, CO. Spain’s San Sebastián International Film Festival is abandoning gender-specific award categories. David McNew/Getty Images

The move follows a similar step taken by the Berlin Film Festival, held last March, and is part of a growing trend.

Organizers say they are confident the festival will be run along lines more similar to those in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some restrictions are likely to continue, the festival intends to increase the number of screenings and the seating capacity in cinemas compared to last year, as well as to recoup some red carpet glamour.

The 69th San Sebastián International Film Festival runs from Sept. 17 to 25 in northern Spain.