The 65th Berlin International Film Festival starts next week, running from 5-15 February 2015. With a lineup of over 400 films from across the globe, providing the stage for an enormous variety of offerings – everything from the latest films from established auteurs, gala world premieres of studio fare to promising debuts from rising stars.
4:3 will also be making its Berlinale debut, with Sub-Editor Jessica Ellicott providing coverage direct from Berlin. For a glimpse of what’s to come, here are ten of her most anticipated films of the festival.
Perhaps it’s because fans once had to wait twenty years between Terrence Malick films, or the notoriously secretive nature of both the man and his productions, but no film of his arrives without manic levels of anticipation. Knight of Cups is no exception. Berthing in Competition, essentially all we know is that it’s Hollywood-set and stars Christian Bale as Rick, “slave to the Hollywood system.”
Have you seen Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg? (Because you know You Have to See… My Winnipeg) Anyway, his latest project with co-director Evan Johnson, The Forbidden Room, just premiered to rave reviews at Sundance, and is one of the must-sees of the Berlinale Forum. Shot in two-colour technicolor, and featuring an eclectic cast including Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling and Geraldine Chaplin, it looks to be replete with Maddin’s characteristic stylistic markings and deep involvement with cinema’s early history.
It’s a rare, noteworthy occurrence that a debut feature gets programmed in the prestigious Competition. So take note I will of Vergine giurata (Sworn Virgin) from Italian director Laura Bispuri. Alba Rohrwacher (The Wonders) is cast as a woman who swears herself to virginity under traditional Albanian law as an alternative to marriage and a life of servitude.
“I have to continue making films under any circumstances,” says Jafar Panahi in the director’s statement accompanying the synopsis of Taxi. Taxi is his third film (after This Is Not a Film (2011) and Closed Curtain (2013)) made in defiance of the twenty-year ban on making films imposed on him in 2010 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court. With a similar structural conceit to that of Kiarostami’s Ten (2002), Taxi features Panahi as a Tehran taxi driver with a diverse set of passengers.
The follow-up to one of last year’s major critical successes, Listen Up Philip, Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth makes its world premiere in the Berlinale Forum. Again starring Elisabeth Moss, this time alongside Katherine Waterston (right off the back of Inherent Vice) and edited by Robert Greene, the director has rather amusingly said he hopes it will be “regarded as a confounding, misunderstood follow up a la INTERIORS.” 1
Chilean documentarian Patricio Guzmán, famous for his epic three-part documentary The Battle of Chile (1975-1979),2 comes to the Berlinale Competition with a new film called El botón de nácar (The Pearl Button). With a focus on water and its connection with Chile, it sounds like it will follow on from Nostalgia for the Light (2010) in blending an observation of natural phenomena with political history.
A dystopian panorama from Alexey German Jr., Pod electricheskimi oblakami (Under Electric Clouds) looks to be one of the most visually assertive films of the Competition lineup. Production of the film was held up following the passing of his father Alexei German in February 2013, whose final virtuosic statement Hard to Be a God German Jr. helped complete. German Jr. is certainly a talent in his own right, his latest one of the most-anticipated of the festival and a serious contender for the top prize.
Every still from Radu Jude’s Aferim! is more gorgeous than the last. Billed as a black-and-white Balkan Western, set in Eastern Europe circa 1835, Aferim! looks to be one of the more ambitious and intriguing projects to vie for the Golden Bear.
The Forum Expanded section will be host to a double bill from experimental film great Ken Jacobs, with a new film Cyclops Observes the Celestial Bodies, a 15-minute vision of ‘Cyclopean 3D’, screening alongside Orchard Street (1955) which will be presented for the first time in its originally planned half-hour cut. Jacobs joins fellow avant-garde veteran Michael Snow (Wavelength) in Forum Expanded, whose installation piece Taut forms part of a group show, “To the Sound of the Closing Door”, at the Akademie der Künste.
No trip to the Berlinale would be complete without seeing a new German film. Sure there’s Herzog’s Queen of the Desert or Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine (funnily enough both starring James Franco), but my money is on Dominik Graf’s Was heißt hier Ende? Der Filmkritiker Michael Althen (Then Is It the End? The Film Critic Michael Althen). Graf, one of the most interesting German directors of our time, with a remarkably varied and prolific output spanning decades and ranging from commerical television to the essay film, remains mostly unknown outside the German-speaking world. His latest is a tribute to his friend, the German film critic Michael Althen, who passed away in 2011.