Charles Bramesco


The Berlin Film Fest’s 2023 lineup includes Christian Petzold, Hong Sang-soo

President Kristen Stewart will also pass judgement on films by Matt Johnson and Angela Schanelec.

With the Sundance Film Festival currently in full swing, the cinema world is oriented around Park City, Utah, for the moment. But with the next major date on the calendar fast approaching, the Berlin Film Festival has stolen a bit of the spotlight this morning as the programming committee has unveiled their Competition picks for this year’s festivities.

President Kristen Stewart and her to-be-announced panel of jurors will pass judgement on a lineup well-stocked with esteemed fixtures of the international arthouse, a handful of high-profile key gets challenging the perception of the Berlinale as a less-glossy cousin of Cannes and Venice. The most eye-catching among them may be the German cinema’s latest pride and joy Angela Schanelec, returning to the festival with the incestuous family drama Music after her glowingly reviewed I Was At Home, But… netted her a Silver Bear award for Best Director in 2019. Also representing Deutschland’s interests in Competition will be feminist trailblazer Margarethe von Trotta, the improlific Christoph Hochhäusler, and the great Christian Petzold, his new thriller Afire (formerly The Red Sky) turning up the tension during a heatwave at a summer holiday home.

They’re joined by a global collection of well-regarded artists including French living legend Philippe Garrel, whose drama The Plough follows a nomadic family touring with their long-running puppet show act, and Portugal’s João Canijo, back at last with a follow-up to 2011’s Blood of My Blood. Those keeping track of English-language cuts will be interested in BlackBerry (Canadian Matt Johnson’s account of the proto-smartphone’s meteoric rise, featuring Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, and Cary Elwes), and the return of South Africa’s John Trengove with Manodrome (an of-the-moment satire that sees an Uber driver played by Jesse Eisenberg joining a libertarian masculinity cult in the woods led by Adrien Brody).

Though Celine Song’s debut Past Lives will have already played at Sundance by the time it comes to Berlin, the early positive reviews (in particular for performances by Greta Lee and John Magaro) have put it on attendees’ radar. And in a first for the Berlinale, an anime feature has cracked the Competition slate, Your Name and Weathering With You director Makoto Shinkai back with Suzume, in which problems arise once a hunky boy is transmogrified into a chair.

And that’s not to mention the eye-grabbers tucked away in the sidebar categories, such as Dustin Guy Defa’s indie The Adults; The Echo from Tatiana Huezo, director of Prayers for the Stolen; In Water, the latest transmission from the Hong Sang-soo-niverse; Golda, Guy Nattiv’s surprisingly Helen Mirren-led biopic of Golda Meir; and the formal experiment Reality, in which Sydney Sweeney enacts the transcript of NSA whistleblower Reality Winner’s interrogation by the FBI.

Screen Daily has the complete list of selections for what’s sure to be a crackerjack Berlinale, though Little White Lies will soon start running our on-the-ground coverage confirming that much. Until then, all we can do is wait and hope that all will emerge unscathed from the eventual premiere of Sean Penn‘s new documentary about the war in Ukraine.

The 73rd Berlin Film Festival will take place from 16 to 26 February.

Published 23 Jan 2023

Tags: Berlin Film Festival Christian Petzold Hong Sang-soo John Trengove Makoto Shinkai Philippe Garrel Sean Penn

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