Every year, Germany’s capital opens its doors to international movie fans and industry professionals. This year, the Berlinale is taking place for the 73rd time, beyond its remarkable line up, here are some of the things we’re most excited about.
Berlinale Goes Kiez
Described as: ‘A Salute to the Local Cinema Landscape’ – Berlinale goes Kiez is an initiative that aims to include local, independent cinemas and other unique viewing venues as part of the festival. Highlighting the city’s vibrant cinematic culture, venue staff will be personally presenting one-minute video portraits of each location, providing anecdotal insight into everyday operations, telling personal stories about the establishments and inviting guests to discover their cinemas.
On-demand and streaming has become integral in spreading the word about international film. It also means that if you can’t travel to Berlin, you can still get a taste of the festival and watch some of the events, all the press conferences and photo calls, the opening ceremony and the awards. During the festival, all streams will be made available here.
One of the most successful filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg, will be given an honorary award for his life’s work on the 21st of February at the Berlinale Palast (the main venue of the festival, situated at Potsdamer Platz, that used to be split by the Berlin Wall). The festival will screen his latest film, The Fabelmans, with Spielberg on hand to accept the statuette.
Local is the new international
After embracing episodic storytelling in recent years, Berlinale Series Head Julia Fidel has reshaped the festival’s long-form programming approach. Where mainstream and western participants had been the main focus previously, the festival turns towards eastern Europe and Asia this year. In an interview, Fidel spoke about the beauty of using locations for their looks rather than changing them to look like a different setting (like King’s Landing stand-in Dubrovnik) and a focus on contemporary issues like climate change and women’s rights. The program will be opened by the eagerly anticipated (and very expensive) sci-fi series Der Schwarm (The Swarm).
Young at Heart
This year ‘Retrospective’, the festival’s historical programme, is dedicated to Coming-of-Age movies. Filmmakers, both local and international, have chosen their favourite picks, including Martin Scorsese (Prima della rivoluzione), Céline Sciamma (Not a Pretty Picture), Ava DuVernay (Sugar Cane Alley) and many others. Take a look at the full list here.
This year’s international jury will be led by Kristen Stewart. Having outgrown her Twilight years, Stewart will be the youngest ever Jury President at Berlinale and she’s about to make her directorial debut, an adaptation of the bestseller The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Having established her arthouse creds over the last decade, we’re excited to see what she gives the gongs to.
Focused more on youth stories, Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus, offer two programmes screening state-of-the-art international cinema exploring the lives and worlds of children and teenagers. The festival maintains close connections with Berlin schools and has special offers to enable extracurricular projects and families to attend the festival. It’s a great way to introduce the younger generation to film, while learning to see the world through their eyes.
To highlight the events in Ukraine, there will be a pin-on badge, in the form of the beloved Berlinale bear, featuring the Ukrainian national colours available. Other Berlinale merchandise includes a magnetic bear designed by Ukrainian artists in the country’s traditional Petrykivka painting style, dominated by floral motifs. Other conflicts, such as those happening in Iran, will also be highlighted through special events and screenings within the programme.