The Berlin Film Festival or Berlinale opened on Thursday, February 9 and as always it looks like it is going to be an international and emotional roller coaster.
While President, Donald Trump, was not mentioned at the opening day jury press conference, jury members were keen to discuss the importance of diversity throughout a wide-range of topics from film, politics, culture, economics and the role of technology in today’s cinematic landscape.
This year’s jury president, acclaimed Dutch filmmaker and director of ELLE, Paul Verhoeven, set the right tone of the festival by declaring “I hope that we’ll see a lot of movies that are different and controversial. Best thing I expect among jurors is enthusiasm”.
“For me as an American, it’s incredible to be at such an international film festival at this point in time,” said jury member, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Mexican actor and jury member, Diego Luna, also added: “We’re not here to send a message. It’s the other way around. We’re here to hear them. Cinema is a tool of change — we’re here to listen and celebrate diverse voices”.
The always very international jury also includes Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, German actress, Julia Jentsch, Tunisian producer, Dora Bouchoucha Fourati, and Chinese filmmaker, Wang Quan’an.
The Berlinale‘s marketplace has filled up with exciting, must see including:
Borg/McEnroe: The sport drama is a narrative feature debut for Danish documentary filmmaker, Janus Metw Pederson, and follows the 1980 Wimbledon tennis championship and the pair of tennis champions, John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason). The film also co-stars Stellan Skarsgard who will portray Lennart Bergelin, the tennis coach who will mentor Borg.
Suspiria: Shortly after his success at Sundance with Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino is back with another title featuring an all female cast, including Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz and Tilda Swinton.
The film is a remake of the 1977 horror film of the same name and follows a young American dancer (Johnson), arriving a the famous Markos Tanz dance Company in Berlin right after the disappearance of one of its dancers under mysterious circumstances. Suspiria‘s rights were already snached up by Amazon who will release the film domestically.
Vox Lux: Writer-director, Brady Corbet, follows a pop superstar named Celeste (Rooney Mara) from the age of fifteen through her years of success and achievements. The film also stars Jude Law and Stacy Martin. The complete soundtrack of the film will be composed by Grammy Award nominated artist, Sia.
ELLE‘s breakthrough performance, Isabelle Huppert, will not stop to fascinate and already returns with a brand new title premiering in Berlin. Barrage, directed by Laura Schroeder, follows an aging woman named Elisabeth (Huppert), forced to compete for the affections of her young granddaughter when the girl’s absent mother returns to Luxembourg after ten years away.
Each year the festival awards the Berlinale Camera to outstanding personalities working in the film industry. This year’s recipients include Hong Kong female producer and distributor, Nansun Shi.
After founding her own production company, Film Workshop, with acclaimed director, Tsui Hark, Shi has been responsible for a variety of international successes including A Better Tomorrow (1986) by John Woo; Once Upon A Time In China (1991) with Jet Li, and Seven Swords (2005), both directed by Tsui Hark.
She is also behind the 2002 multiple prize-winning thriller, Infernal Affairs, which was the film on which Martin Scorsese based The Departed (2006).
Another surprising addition to this year’s festival is Ellen Burstyn‘s directorial debut.
The Oscar and Tony winner and 84 years old actress will direct Bathing Flo. The film follows out of luck man, Danny, who is offered to house-sit in exchange for free rent. What he is not aware of is that an eccentric woman named Flo (Burstyn) is part of the contract. Flo and Danny reluctantly agree to share the flat and in turn receive invaluable life lessons from each other. Bathing Flo will be introduced to buyers at EFM in Berlin.
Looking back at past festivals, Berlin has hosted the premieres of worldwide successes such as Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014, Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise in 1995, Sidney Lumet‘s 12 Angry Men in 1957, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood in 2008 and last year’s Mia Hansen-Løve‘s Things To Come, starring Isabelle Huppert.
On Friday, director, Danny Boyle, returned to Berlin, seventeen years after The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, for the special presentation of T2 Trainspotting.
The 67th Berlin International Film Festival has barely begun but has already promised to be both diverse and inspirational!