73rd Berlinale: The Specials and the Encounters Competition

Advance sales for the 73rd Berlin Film Festival begin on Monday, and the program has now been published. If you want to prepare yourself for the ticket hunt, in addition to our overview of the bear competition (here all 19 candidates in brief) you will find a summary of the other contributions in the main program here: the most important things in the Berlinale Special and in the Encounters section. If you want to find out more about the panorama section, you can find it here.

Berlinale Special and Special Gala

The US actor Sean Penn (l) met the Ukrainian President Selenskyj in Kyiv: Scene from “Superpower”.
© dpa/The People’s Servant/Berlinale

Certainly among the most anticipated Berlinale entries are Sean Penns and Aaron Kaufmans “super power”, a documentary about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Two-time Oscar winner Penn has confirmed that he will come to the world premiere in the Berlinale Palast.

The series traditionally mixes audience cinema and top-class documentaries. The latter include the Donna Summer portrait “Love to Love You, Donna Summer” and “Boom! Boom! The World vs Boris Becker” about the former tennis star Boris Becker. In the case of feature films, in addition to the opening film “She Came To Me” with Anne Hathaway, Peter Dinklage and Marisa Tomei as well “Golda” starring Helen Mirren as Golda Meir and Brandon Cronenberg’s horror film “Infinity Pool” arouse special interest with Alexander Skarsgard.

Robert Schwentkes also promises star power “Seneca” with John Malkovich and Geraldine Chaplin. Lars Kraume dedicates himself in his historical drama “The Presumptuous Man” the Herero uprising and the German colonial crimes in today’s Namibia.

Two genuine Berlin stories are also included. In “Tar” embodies Cate Blanchett – yes, she’s also coming to the festival! – the first female chief conductor in the Philharmonic (even if the Berlin Philharmonic does not perform, Lydia Tár’s orchestra is “played” by the Dresden Philharmonic). As concertmaster, Nina Hoss sits at the first desk, an affair leads Blanchett from the Kulturforum to Neukölln.

Donna Summer in the portrait film Love To Love You, Donna Summer.
Donna Summer in the portrait film Love To Love You, Donna Summer.
© Courtesy of Estate of Donna Summer Sudano

Todd Fields’ MeToo drama premiered in the Venice competition, and those who miss it at the Berlinale can see it in cinemas from March 2nd. And the second Berlin film: “Sun and Concrete” by David Wnendt tells the story of four classmates in Gropiusstadt, based on the bestseller of the same name by Felix Lobrecht.


Scene from Ayşe Polat
Scene from Ayşe Polat’s Berlinale Encounters contribution “In the blind spot”
© Mitosfilm

Feature films, documentaries and everything in between: The Encounters competition includes 16 world premieres, and there are also a particularly large number of current and political subjects. They follow “the desire to broaden the audience’s view of the world,” according to festival director Carlo Chatrian.

Six of the contributions are from women, including “Blind Spot” by the Berlin-based German-Kurdish filmmaker Ayşe Polat. A German film team is working in the Kurdish region of north-eastern Turkey, dealing with immaterial monuments, a missing son and a girl haunted by mysterious powers. A political thriller about the trauma and resistance of the Kurds.

In “Eco” we meet three families in a remote Mexican village. Tatiana Huezo observes her everyday life intently, especially approaching the children and the women. And the numerous animals in the village. Also the first born of the Belarusian Malika Museava, who lives in Germany, “The Cage is Looking for a Bird”takes place in a village in Chechnya: a coming-of-age film centered on 17-year-old Yakha.

Also included: “In Water”the new film by Korean Berlinale regular Hong Sangsoo, the Hungarian science fiction film “White Plastic Sky” on a future without plants and Paul B. Preciados “Orlando, ma biographie politique‘, a pictorial message to Virginia Woolf as an early inventor of non-binary identity.

In the documentary “My Worst Enemy” the Iranian exile Mehran Tamadon is subjected to interrogation, just as he would probably experience it in his homeland if he could return there safely. The prominent exile actress Tsar Amir Ebrahimi takes on the role of the secret service agent. By the way, Tamadon is a guest in the forum section with another documentary, “Where God Is Not” about prison violence and torture in Iran.

Fictitious interrogation in Iran.
Fictitious interrogation in Iran. “My Worst Enemy” with Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Mehran Tamadon.
© l’Atelier Documentaire

It’s about Ukraine and Russia’s war of aggression “Eastern Front” by Vitaly Mansky and Yevhen Titarenko. The two juxtapose images from last summer in Kyiv and the work of a paramedic squad in the east of the country, showing the tough everyday life at the front and in the capital.

Stefano Savanas “La Mura di Bergamo” in turn observes the mourning work in the northern Italian city, which made headlines as the epicenter of the corona pandemic. And the semi-fictional road movie “The Klezmer Project” follows a (fictitious) documentary film team that sets off in search of lost klezmer melodies in Eastern Europe.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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