Berlinale 2017
Berlinale17: Open Wound German Film

Berlinale Talents
Berlinale Talents | © Berlinale

TV has carved out its place at most major international festivals and the Berlinale has been at the forefront of the new wave. 

This year, I can’t wait for Marvin Krens' 4 Blocks (German trailer), which takes us into the Berlin-Neukölln district of several Arab clans, starring Victoria’s Frederick Lau. 

If you liked Deutschland '83, don't miss Oliver Hirschbiegel’s (Downfall) East-West spy drama The Same Sky (Trailer), where he pitches Tom Schilling (Oh Boy) as a Stasi honey trap. The show comes pre-vetted from Cannes’ Mipcom. "In the Berlinale Special we're presenting Eight Hours are Not a Day by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, proving that TV had strong series to show as early as 1972," Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick contextualised in an FNP interview.

Prominent German actors in international productions include Bruno Ganz (Downfall; Remember) in Sally Potter's highly anticipated competition entry The Party. Ganz also appears in the Berlinale Special screening of In Times of Fading Light by Matti Geschonneck. Lars Eidinger (Personal Shopper) is starring alongside Sam Riley and Kate Bosworth in the Philipp Kadelbach-directed BBC show SS-GB, a dystopian retelling of the Battle of Britain – King imprisoned, Churchill dead, Axis won – which will make Brexit look like a walk in the park (or a foreboding).

The Berlinale is also always a quiet Goethe-Institut success story. From Toronto, we’re rooting for our artist-collaborators Heinz Emigholz with his four-part Streetscapes; Oliver Husain, whose La Isla Maria 3D (trailer in English) is featured in Forum Expanded; as are Toronto's Chris Gehmann and Bruce La Bruce, with a, likely wild, German production. Also, three former Goethe-Institut Toronto German residency artists --Anja Dornieden & Juan David Gonzalez, and Daniel Kötter— are presenting new works in Berlin. Together with Ryerson University, we just introduced Berlin’s Filipa César to Canadian audiences; she also gets screen time again at the Berlinale. And last but not least, the late Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 film Nema-ye Nazdik plays as part of the Goethe program “Iranian Modernity."

It’s not just films and politics and names that are getting attention at this year’s Berlinale though. There is talk of the festival having to move over the next few years, leaving Potsdamer Platz potentially to nearby Martin Gropius Bau already home to the Market-- or a major new "Medienhaus” that might host the Berlinale and the Berlin Film Academy dffb. The outcome we will only see after Kosslick’s 2019 departure.

How prescient Dominik Graf’s new Berlinale doc Open Wound German Film is we will only be able to judge throughout the year and beyond. That reevaluation will include such long-term plans as last year’s only German competition director Anne Zohra Berrached (24 Weeks) looking for partners for her next project The Wife of the Pilot at Berlinale’s busy co-production market. Her Silver Bear-winning lead actress Julia Jentsch is on this year's Jury, led by versatile Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, fresh off his international Elle success. The press conferences 2017 promise to be not one iota less controversial than last year's.

More tips & insights in the upcoming “Berlinale People" interviews with international filmmakers and actors. Gute Projektion & happy festivalling!