The 73rd edition of the Berlin International Film Festivalis the first fully in-person event since 2020. The colors of this year’s Berlinale are blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine. Kristen Stewart will preside over the jury, and Steven Spielberg will receive an honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement, with his autobiographical film The Fabelmans closing the festival.
Photo by: Poster of the 73nd Berlinale
Daring, bold, and entertaining is what this year’s program is all about. Known to be most apolitical of “the big 5” among Cannes, Toronto, Venice and Sundance, this year’s Berlinaleis officially expressing its solidarity with Ukraine and Iran. The festival will see the world premiere of Sean Penn’s much talked-about documentary, Superpower, a portrait of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and will showcase three movies on life in Iran. The Berlinale will also provide free exhibition space to Ukrainian film industry representatives at the festival's sprawling European Film Market, and highlight co-production possibilities with Ukraine's embattled directors.
The festival organizers, however, aim to achieve a sensible balance between films providing a very real view of the world and those that take audiences away from the harshness of reality. The pandemic, the current war, and the energy crisis have all brought its own challenges to the movie industry, but Berlinale hopes to motivate people to return to the cinemas.
Below we highlight most interesting showcases of this year’s program:
Special Gala | The festival will open with the world premiere of Rebecca Miller’s romantic comedy She Came To Me starring Peter Dinklage and Anne Hathaway.
Competition | This year’s selection is unexpected and fresh. It’s a good mix of recognized and established filmmakers such as Margarethe Von Trotta, Christian Petzhold, Philippe Garrel and Rolf de Heer, with a room for new voices in cinema with young filmmakers and movies that have young protagonists. There are also films that usually don’t find a place in Competition, such as animation Suzume and documentary On The Adamant by Nicolas Philibert.
Past Lives by Celine Song
Ingeborg Bachmann – Reise in die Wüste
International Jury Berlinale 2023
Superpower. Sean Penn, Aaron Kaufman
Among the Competition titles are the Sundance-premiering Past Lives by Celine Song and the thriller Manodrome about a masculinity cult from South African director John Trengove. There's also the much-anticipated Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert, Margarethe Von Trotta’s film starring Vicky Krieps as Austrian poet and author Bachmann. It is the first film by the acclaimed German filmmaker to play in the Berlinale Competition since Heller Wahn in 1983.
French-Iranian director Emily Atef returns to the Berlinale with teenage love story Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything; Berlinale regular Christian Petzold also heads back to competition with Afire - following his German hits Undine and Barbara; and veteran French filmmaker Philippe Garrel, who was last in Competition in 2020 with The Salt of Tears, will premiere his family drama The Plough.
In Ukraine. Piotr Pawlus, Tomasz Wolski
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg
Forum | Among the world premieres in the Forum category are In Ukraine, a non-fiction look at the ongoing Ukraine war from Polish directors Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski; the “coming-of-middle-age” tale Cidade Rabat from Portuguese filmmaker Susana Nobre; the Argentine comedy of errors About Thirty from director Martin Shanly (who previously directed About 12); and The Bride, a debut feature from director Myriam U. Birara, which is set in Rwanda three years after the 1994 genocide.
Shorts | The program offers a deep dive into the broad spectrum and special creative freedom that can be found only in the short form. A Woman in Makueni by Daria Belova and Valeri Aluskina is filmed inside a prison and on the streets of Makueni in Kenya and created in collaboration with an amateur cast of locals. It’s a Date by Nadia Parfan is set in Kyiv in 2022. It is a remake of Claude Lelouch's C’était un rendez-vous (It Was a Date) from 1976, shot on another location and featuring a slightly altered ending, capturing the emotions in a state of emergency caused by the war. It’s a love between two women, one of them wearing military camouflage.
Full program and tickets for each screening can be found here. Tickets can be purchased online 3 days in advance, 2 tickets per person per event. To navigate your way through the various nominations and categories of the festival, please refer to our last year’s article about Berlinale.