Thursday, January 30, 2020

70th Berlin Film Festival Lineup

Yes, I am (or was?) a huge fan of this festival and highly enjoyed Dieter Kosslick's black humor and many of his official selections during the many years he was the festival's director.  This is the first festival without Dieter Kosslick and under the Executive Direction of Mariette Rissenbeek and the Artistic Direction of Carlo Chatrian.  My first spontaneous reaction is that festival looks and feels different as Competition lineup (which always is the main festival event) seems different perhaps less festival particular and more like other festivals.

Time will say if my first impression is real or just my reaction to change.  Change does not come only at top levels as almost all sections have new heads.  So, no doubt the festival has gone a major overhaul.  Hope finds its own and different to the other 2 major film festivals niche as if not, will risk to go outside the major 3 and film festivals will have only 2 major participants until another grows to become the third one.

Change could also mean cleaning the house, isn't?  Well, the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize will no longer exist as was suspended when Die Zeit newspaper publish an article casting new light on the role of Alfred Bauer, the first director of the Berlin International Film Festival, in the film politics of the National Socialists.  The interpretation is that he held significant posititions durin the Nazi era.  So, imagine they have to create a new third place award to replace this one. Update: just found out that award will not be given at all, there is one less award this year and will not benefit new/younger directors as was the award given to films that "open new cinematic perspectives".

The 2020 edition will honor Helen Mirren with its Homage and award her the Honorary Goldern Bear for her lifetime achievement.

Used to do a very long post with ALL films in almost all festival sections but this year will reduce the post to the main competition and Berlinale Special.  Have to mention that it is on February 11 when the program at official site opens to public.  Post can change -if applicable- after I check their publication.

To learn the new Artistic Director vision I'm sharing what he says about his first Competition selection.

“The Competition films tell intimate and earth-shattering, individual and collective stories that have an enduring effect and gain their impact from their interplay with the audience. If there is a predominance of dark tones, this may be because the films we have selected tend to look at the present without illusion – not to cause fear, but because they want to open our eyes. The trust cinema places in humankind, these suffering, ill-treated, manipulative beings, is unbroken – so unbroken that it consistently views them as its protagonists.”

Seems we are in for a high dose of reality, which is not bad in cinema but let's hope it's presented with high tones of artistic intent.  The Competition includes 18 films from 18 countries and 16 are world premieres.  Five are French co productions, four are German co productions and three are Swiss co productions which is new but still, interesting production distribution for this festival.

After reading about films can help but to comment that some not-really-known filmmakers in this section have been in Locarno film festival which indeed means that they were known to new Artistic Director.  Undoubtedly the new administration brings something new but was hoping that will not be what was done in the Swiss film festival, sigh.  Industry press already talking about the selection "darkness", don't know how dark is as not all films have trailers yet; but, already discover some main stream films like the one from Argentina and Favolacce looks/feels good but could be more mainstream than anything else.

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Burhan Qurbani, Germany and Netherlands
Дау. Наташа DAU. Natasha, Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Jekaterina Oertel, Germany, Ukraine, UK and Russia
도망친 여자 Domangchin yeoja (The Woman Who Ran), Hong Sangsoo, South Korea
Effacer l'historique (Delete History), Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, France and Belgium
El Prófugo (The Intruder), Natalia Meta, Argentina and Mexico
Favolacce (Bad Tales), Damiano and Fabio d'Innocenzo, Italy and Switzerland
First Cow, Kelly Reichart, USA
Irradiés (Irradiated), Rithy Panh, France and Cambodia (documentary)
Le sel des larmes (The Salt of Tears), Philippe Garrel, France and Switzerland
Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Eliza Hittman, USA
日子 Rizi (Days), Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan
The Roads Not Taken, Sally Potter, UK
Schwesterlein (My Little Sister), Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, Switzerland
شیطان وجود ندارد Sheytan vojud nadarad (There Is No Evil), Mohammad Rasolouf, Germany, Czech Republic and Iran
Siberia, Abel Ferrara, Italy, Germany and Mexico
Todos os Mortos (All the Dead Ones), Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra, Brazil and France
Undine, Christian Petzold, Germany and France
Volevo nascondermi (Hidden Away), Giorgio Diritti, Italy

International Jury
President: Jeremy Irons, actor, UK
Bérénice Bejo, Actress, Argentina and France
Bettina Brokemper, producer, Germany
Annemarie Jacir, director, Palestine
Kenneth Lonergan, filmmaker and screenwriter, USA
Luca Marinelli, actor, Italy
Kleber Mendonça Filho, director, film critic, film journalist, and fest programmer, Brazil

Berlinale Special
The new management has taken out the category Out Of Competition which ran in the Competition section; as a result, non-competing films will be presented as part of the Berlinale Special Gala in the future and screening will take place in the Berlinale Palast or Friedrichstadt-Palast. There are 20 films from 19 countries and 15 are world premieres.  Carlo Chatrian vision follows.

“This section provides a platform for films that captivate a wide audience. We call them ‘moving images’ because they move audiences with their expressiveness and their brilliant and courageous performers. The gala premieres fulfil the desire for the stars, glitz and glamour that is part of every big festival. Berlinale Series offers an insight into new forms of storytelling while Berlinale Special presents itself as a forum for debate and discussion and builds bridges between the audience and cinema.”

Admit is not a bad vision as when we recall the fact that Berlinale is the only major film festival in a large city -and the only capital city- having this type of films will attract massive local audiences to the festival. Not surprisingly here we find films by better-known directors like Matteo Garrone, Anne Fontaine, Agnieszka Holland as well as stars like Johnny Depp.

Berlinale Special Gala at Berlinale Palast
Opening Film: My Salinger Year, Philippe Falardeau, Canada and Ireland
Šarlatán (Charlatan), Agnieszka Holland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland and Slovakia
Onward, Dan Scalan, USA (animation)
Persian Lessons, Vadim Perelman, Russia, Germany and Belarus
Pinocchio, Matteo Garrone, Italy, France and UK
Police (Night Shift), Anne Fontaine, France

Berlinale Special Gala at Friedrichstadt-Palast
Curveball, Johannes Naber, Germany
High Ground, Stephen Maxwell Johnson, Australia
Minamata, Andrew Levitas, UK
사냥의 시간  Sa-nyang-eui-si-gan (Time to Hunt), Yoon Sung-hyun, South Korea

Berlinale Special At Haus der Berliner Fetspiele
Дау. Новый человек DAU. Degeneratsia (DAU. Degeneration), Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and Ilya Permyakov, Germany, Ukraine, UK and Russia
Golda Maria, Patrick Sobelman and Hugo Sobelman, France (documentary)
Hillary, Nanetter Burstein, USA (documentary series)
Last and First Men, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Iceland (documentary)
Nomera (Numbers), Oleg Sentsov in collaboration with Akhtem Seitablaiev, Ukraine, Poland Czech Republic and France
Paris Calligramme, Ulrike Ottinger, Germany and France (documentary)
Speer Goes to Hollywood, Vanessa Lapa, Israel
The American Sector, Courtney Stephens and Pancho Velez, USA
The Nutty Professor, Jerry Lewis, USA, 1963
一直游到海水变蓝 Zhi You Dao Hai Shui Bian Lan (Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue), Jia Zhang-ke, China (documentary)

Berlinale Camera
This year the Camera goes to none other than director and artist Ulrike Ottinger and will be presented to her on February 22 at the Haus der Berliner Fetspiele before the world premiere of her documentary Paris Calligrammes.

These are the other festival sections, including the new Encounters Program.

Its goal is to support new voices in cinema and to give more room to diverse narrative and documentary forms in the official program. A three-member jury will choose the winners for Best Film, Best Director and a Special Jury Award.  Chatrian vision follows.

As a result of passionate research, the 15 titles chosen for Encounters present the vitality of cinema in all of its forms. Each film presents a different way of interpreting the cinematic story: autobiographical, intimate, political, social, philosophical, epic, surreal. The films take the challenge of shaping a world rather than reproducing it.”

Cristi Puiu’s new work will open this kaleidoscopic gallery. A journey through time and thought, Malmkrog is a major work, a tour de force of words and mise en scène, a fresco that fascinates with precision and inventiveness.  If you wish to check the films in the section go here.  There is one film that will highlight as really enjoy director films, Isabella by Matías Piñeiro.

Encounters Jury
Shôzô Ichiyama, producer, Japan
Dominga Sotomayor, director, Chile
Eva Trobish, director and screenwriter, Germany

This section has always been the major source of films that compete for the Teddy Award and this year has its large dose.  All LGTB films, including those in this section, will be listed in a different post with only those films competing for the Teddy Award.

Nevertheless, section has interesting films that can be check here.   New section head, Michael Stütz shares some of his reasons why to his 2020 selection. Here is an excerpt.

"The Panorama program is emblematic of the urgency for political action and civil disobedience. Filmmakers and protagonists are standing up against authorities. Russian citizens who have been left behind socially stagger between neo-imperialist subservience and making angry accusations against their president. A young woman whacks patriarchal dominance in the face with a shovel. And, in Sweden, self-determined young people are defining their own gender. They are all engaged in a search, stimulating change and breaking out. The films display the power of resistance and the scope of what is possible.”

2020 is a year of many changes. The Berlinale Forum has a new section head in the form of Cristina Nord and a new selection procedure, with many new faces among the advisors and in the selection committee. At the same time, it’s a year in which tradition is of particularly great importance: this independent section of the Berlinale, organised by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

For me it's the most complex section of the festival and one with the most innovative films, experimental films/video/new mediums and film images essays.  Check films here and go here for Forum Expanded sub-section.

This year has 59 competition entries, including 29 world premieres and 11 debut films from 34 countries and an unpredecent share of female directors reaching 58% (that's new). Maryanne Redpath, head of Generation says: "A keen and open eye, the questioning of conventions and the often dramatic transgressions of borders make the films in the Generation program particularly powerful: in their stories and topics, but also in their film language”.

Check films here but will review section again when short and feature films are separated and with all proper info to discover what really this section is all about.

Generation Kplus International Jury
Marine Atlan, cinematographer and director, France
María Novaro, filmmaker and head of IMCINE, Mexico
Erik Schmitt, director, Germany

Generation 14plus International Jury
Abbas Amini, filmmaker, Iran
Jenna Bass, writer and filmmaker, South Africa
Rima Das, filmmaker, India

Perspektive Deutsches Kino
Section has been compressed to only eight films, which hopefully doesn't mean that there has been a "compression" in German cinema.  Check films here.

Berlinale Best First Feature Award
Since 2006, when it introduced the GWFF Best First Feature Award, the Berlinale has been even more committed to supporting the next generation of filmmakers. The award is endowed with 50,000 Euros, donated by the GWFF (Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrechten), a society dedicated to safeguarding film and television rights. The prize money is to be split between the producer and the director of the winning film. Additionally, the director will be awarded with a high-quality viewfinder as both a useful instrument and memorable trophy. In total, 21 directorial feature film debuts from the sections Encounters, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino are nominated for the GWFF Best First Feature Award.

First Feature Award Jury
Ognjen Glavonić, director and writer, Serbia
Hala Lotfy, director and producer, Egypt
Gonzalo de Pedro Amatria, film programmer and scholar, Spain

Berlinale Documentary Award
The Berlin International Film Festival has long been committed to the diversity of documentary forms. A distinct award for the best documentary film was launched in 2017. As of 2020, the Berlinale Documentary Award, endowed with 40,000 Euro in prize money, will be sponsored by public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb).  In total, 21 documentary forms from the sections Competition, Berlinale Special, Encounters, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino are nominated for the Berlinale Documentary Award. To check films go here.

Documentary Award Jury
Gerd Kroske, filmmaker, Germany
Marie Losier, filmmaker and curator, France and USA
Alanis Obomsawin, filmmaker, singer, artist and activist, Canada

Berlinale Shorts
The Berlinale was founded 70 years ago as a “Showcase of the Free World”. What does freedom look like today? How do you preserve your freedom to be free? This is one of the reoccurring questions of the Berlinale Shorts competition 2020.

This year, Berlinale Shorts is entering a new chapter. After Maike Mia Höhne headed the section for twelve years, Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck has now taken over the position as curator and section head and presents her first programme.

“The short form enjoys a special freedom, it sets its own rules,” says Henckel-Donnersmarck. “It operates outside the conventional distribution chains and doesn’t need to please the expectations of a market. Its special magic unfolds once established viewing habits are left behind. We are very much looking forward to sharing this magic with the audience.”

The total of 24 films from 18 countries flow through a broad spectrum of topics and aesthetics. They invite to reflect, inspire and discuss.  Check the films here.

Berlinale Shorts Jury
Réka Bucsi, animation filmmaker, Hugary
Fatma Çolakoğlu, curator, Turkey
Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, filmmaker, Lesotho

Berlinale Series
Dare to be seen, own your story, give sex a chance and stay true to your unique, unapologetic style – With eight series premieres from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, United Kingdom and USA, Berlinale Series presents the state-of-the-art in serial storytelling.  An abundance of topics and narrative forms sets the tone of the programme as well the overdue representation of different communities, sexual identities and new perspectives on the world we live in.

Established directors and writers explore the possibilities of serial storytelling freely and very personally. The new projects by Marvin Kren (Freud), Athina Rachel Tsangari (Trigonometry), Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair (Mystery Road 2), François Létourneau and Jean-François Rivard (C’est comme ça que je t’aime) and last but not least Damien Chazelle with closing series The Eddy convince us with clear artistic decisions. Using macabre humour and stylish irony is part of the bold developments of this year, as is the almost surprisingly mature approach (especially) to female sexuality, as Amalie Næsby Fick displays in Sex. Check info about series here.

Press Conference

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