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Film

10 things you should know about the Berlinale

Richard Gere and Penélope Cruz will be there, and you can watch a new TV series about a fictional, Nazi-run Britain. From stars and prizes to politics, here's everything you need to know about the Berlinale.

1. How many films are being shown?

The 67th Berlinale, which runs from February 9-12, 2017, presents a total of 399 films. The number of showing is much higher as many of those films are being shown multiple times. Over one quarter of the films on the agenda were directed by women.

2. Is there one overarching theme?

No. There are several themes that dominate the various programs. Some of them focus on the fate of refugees, such as the in-competition contribution of Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, "The Other Side of Hope."

Also this year, the Berlinale, in keeping with its long tradition of focusing on political topics, is presenting numerous documentaries. As 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, some of the contributions deal with political utopias. The section "Panorama" shows films on homosexuality, as well as African films and films dealing with racism. 

Scene from The Other Side of Hope by Aki Kaurismäki (Sputnik Oy)

Aki Kaurismäki's "The Other Side of Hope" is vying for a Gold Bear

Even though it's been all over the news, the name "Donald Trump" wasn't mentioned at all during the Berlinale's opening press conference. "Our program in itself is already a strong form of protest," responded Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick when asked how the festival would be responding to the new US president.

3. Which stars will be there?

This year, Hollywood actors including Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke, Cillian Murphy and Robert Pattinson will be making appearances. The female stars that've marked Berlinale in their calendars tend to be from Europe, such as Cécile de France, Penélope Cruz, Catherine Deneuve and Kristin Scott Thomas. Australian stars Geoffrey Rush and Hugh Jackman, as well as German actors Nina Hoss, Moritz Bleibtreu, August Diehl, Bruno Ganz and Hanna Schygulla are also expected.

4. Which German films are being shown?

This year, German films are strongly represented with 104 works shown in various program sections, as well as three films in competition by Volker Schlöndorff, Thomas Arslan and Andres Veiel. In addition, young German filmmakers will be shown exclusively in the series "Perspektive Deutsches Kino" (Perspective on German film). Thirty-six German films will run in the section "Lola" which caters to foreign film distributors.

5. Which international highlights can be expected?

Expectations are high for some films in the competition including works by Aki Kaurismäki (Finland), Agnieszka Holland (Poland,) Sally Potter (Britain,) Hong Sangsoo (South Korea) and Alex de la Iglesia (Spain,) as well as US filmmakers James Mangold and Oren Moverman.

Josef Hader in Wild Mouse (WEGA Film)

Josef Hader appears in his own film, "Wild Mouse"

Also drawing a lot of attention are two films directed by actors, namely American Stanley Tucci and Austrian Josef Hader. The works of big-name directors will be shown in other sections, including James Gray, Raoul Peck, Fernando Trueba, Bruce LaBruce and Romuald Karmakar. The Berlinale also offers a platform to new discoveries and lesser-known filmmakers that have promising careers ahead of them. 

6. Which program series are particularly important?

In addition to the competition and the well-established series "Panorama" and "Forum," the section "Generation" tends to draw crowds. Many Berlinale fans love this part of the festival as it's directed towards very young audiences. But there's also something in store adults. The section "NATIVe" shows films focusing on indigenous peoples in northern Europe. "Kulinarisches Kino" (Culinary cinema) not only shows works on food and the environment, but also invites audiences to actually sit down and enjoy a real bite. Finally, the "Berlinale Shorts" fascinates short film fans. 

7. What does the Berlinale contribute to cinema history?

Traditionally, the Berlinale also takes a look back at the past. This time, the historical retrospective is devoted to the science-fiction genre with both well-known newer films from Eastern Europe and Asia. The series "Berlinale Classics" presents restored historical works that haven't been viewable in original for a long time, among them Helmut Käutner's "Schwarzer Kies" (Black gravel) and the Mexican film "Canoa." The digitally upgraded zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead" is likely to give viewers the creeps this year.

8. Does the film festival also present TV series?

Gold and Silver Bears and the Berlinale (Reuters/F. Bensch)

The awards will be presented on Saturday, February 18

Yes, watching entire series has become a tradition at the Berlinale. This year, viewers can look forward to "4 Blocks" by Marvin Kren featuring Berlin's drug and clan scene, as well as "SS-GB" by Philipp Kadelbach, which is set in a fictional Britain where the Nazis were victorious. Historical film fans can enjoy Rainer Werner Fassbinder's innovative 1972 TV series "Eight Hours Are Not a Day" in its restored version.

9. Where are the films shown?

Throughout the entire city. The festival's focal point is Potsdamer Platz, where the in-competition films are shown every evening. Other traditional locations are old movie theaters like Zoopalast and Delphi in the western part of the city. The "Berlinale Goes Kiez" section brings movies to local Berlin neighborhood cinemas.

10. Which awards can be won?

Golden and Silver Bears will be handed out to the competition winners on February 18. Since 2006, the GFF Best First Feature Award, endowed with 50,00 euros, has been presented to a promising newcomer each year. Starting this year, there is yet another new award aimed at producers and directors of documentaries, the "Glashütte Original Documentary Award.  

There are additional awards handed out to films in some particular sections, like the Teddy in the "Panorama" section, which goes to a gay/lesbian film. This year, the Italian costume designer Milena Canonero, who became known by her work with Stanley Kubrick, will receive the Honorary Golden Bear. The Berlinale Camera 2017 goes to Chinese film distributor Nansun Shi, Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, and Egyptian film critic Samir Farid.

 

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