Feb 11, 5:50 PM EST

The Berlin International Film Festival became embroiled in the debate about diversity in the movie industry Thursday, with jury president Meryl Streep dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that "we're all Africans really."


AP Photo
AP Photo/Axel Schmidt

Buy AP Photo Reprints
PHOTO GALLERY
AP Photo

Berlin Film Festival

Multimedia
Oscars 2010: Nominations
Oscars 2009:
Red Carpet
Oscars 2009: Red Carpet Panorama
Roman Polanski timeilne
Latest Movie News
Make them an offer they can't refuse and a massive collection of 'The Godfather' author Mario Puzo's papers can be yours

The Berlin International Film Festival became embroiled in the debate about diversity in the movie industry Thursday, with jury president Meryl Streep dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that "we're all Africans really."

Film Review: Momentarily untied from "50 Shades of Grey" and its planned sequels, Dakota Johnson is again looking for love in "How to Be Single," a mild and fittingly discombobulated ode to singlehood that plays like a "Sex and the City" rough draft

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is still playing in more than 2,000 theaters in North America and remains ranked in the top five at the box office as it enters its ninth week of release

British health authorities have issued criminal charges against the producers of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" over an on-set accident in which Harrison Ford broke his leg

Document
Paris Hilton in Federal Court: Deposition
Paris Hilton in Federal Court: Exhibit 56
Multimedia
"Harry Potter" Quiz
Interactive
Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

BERLIN (AP) -- The Berlin International Film Festival became embroiled Thursday in the debate about diversity in the movie industry, with jury president Meryl Streep dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that "we're all Africans, really."

Streep, who heads a festival film jury for the first time, said she was committed to equality and inclusion "of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions." The seven-member jury also includes German actor Lars Eidinger, British film critic Nick James, French photographer Brigitte Lacombe, British actor Clive Owen, Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher and Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska.

"This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that's an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions," Streep said. "So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game."

The question of diversity was raised three times during the jury's opening news conference. It follows the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' announcement last month that it was changing its membership rules following uproar over the all-white nominee list for this year's acting Oscars.

Streep - who has won three Oscars and been nominated for the award a further 16 times in her career - said she was proud to head the jury that will choose the winners of the Golden Bear and various Silver Bear awards at the Berlinale, the first of the year's major European movie festivals.

"I have absolutely no idea how to run a jury. But I've been the boss of other enterprises, my family and various other things. So I'm going to learn by doing," she said.

Asked by an Egyptian reporter whether she understood films from the Arab world and North Africa, Streep said while she didn't know much about the region, "I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures."

"There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all, we're all from Africa originally," she said.

"You know, we're all," she added, pausing, "Berliners, we're all Africans, really."

The festival opens Thursday with the Coen brothers' comedy "Hail, Caesar!" starring George Clooney and Josh Brolin. Eighteen movies are in contention for the Golden Bear prize at the festival, which is in its 66th edition this year and runs Feb. 11-21.

Festival director Dieter Kosslick says many movies at this year's event address "the search for happiness" and "migration in the world in very varying forms."

Streep's publicists did not respond Thursday to requests for additional comment.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.