Russian drama to open main section

BERLIN — Felix Mikhailov’s Russian drama “Veselchaki” (Jolly Fellows) kicks off the main program of the Berlinale’s Panorama section this year.

Pic centers on the underground subculture of a Moscow club and its drag queen performers who are forced to stand up for themselves in a deeply homophobic society.

This year’s Panorama, which comprises the main program as well as Dokumente and Panorama Special, will present 54 films from

29 countries, with 31 world premieres and 18 debut works.

The previously announced “Kawasaki’s Rose,” by Czech director Jan Hrebejk, opens Panorama Special. The politically charges pic revolves around a respected former dissident who suffers a blow when it’s discovered that in the 1970s, under pressure from the secret police, he played a part in discrediting a former friend.

“David Wants to Fly,” an exploration of spirituality by Berlin filmmaker David Sieveking, opens Dokumente.

Among this year’s highlights are “Red Hill,” Patrick Hughes’ modern Western starring Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”) about a young police officer struggling to survive his first day’s duty in a small country town in the Australian outback.

U.S. pics include Trent Cooper’s “Reinventing Robert Axle,” starring Kevin Spacey and Virginia Madsen; Jake Scott’s “Welcome to the Rileys,” with James Gandolfini and Kristen Stewart; and “Open,” by Jake Yuzna.

Andrew Davies and Andre Schaefer offer a portrait of Rock Hudson in the German doc “Rock Hudson — Dark and Handsome Stranger.”

Also screening as supporting films in Panorama are two shorts by James Franco, “Herbert White” and “The Feast of Stephen.” Franco toplines Rob Epstein’s “HOWL,” which screens in the fest’s main competition.

In addition to the works previously announced, the following titles unspool in Panorama:
PANORAMA MAIN PROGRAM
“Barriere,” by Andreas Kleinert (Germany)
“One Life Maybe Two,” by Alessandro Aronadio (Italy)
“Fucking Different Sao Paulo,” by Rodrigo Diaz Diaz, Luiz Rene Guerra, Sabrina Greve, et al. (Germany/Brazil)
“Missing Man,” by Anna Fenchenko (Russia)
“Red Hill,” by Patrick Hughes (Australia)
“The Owls,” by Cheryl Dunye (U.S.)
“Jolly Fellows,” by Felix Mikhailov (Russia)
“Southern District,” by Juan Carlos Valdivia (Bolivia)

PANORAMA SPECIAL
“Broder!” by Jeferson De (Brazil)
“When We Leave,” by Feo Aladag (Germany)
“Loose Cannons,” by Ferzan Ozpetek (Italy)
“Monga,” by Doze, Niu Chen-Zer (Taiwan)
“Open,” by Jake Yuzna (U.S.)
“Bad Family,” by Aleksi Salmenpera (Finland)
“Reinventing Robert Axle,” by Trent Cooper (U.S.)
“Welcome to the Rileys,” by Jake Scott (U.S.)

PANORAMA DOKUMENTE
“Arias with a Twist The Movie,” by Bobby Sheehan (U.S.)
“Blank City,” by Celine Danhier (U.S.)
Budrus,” by Julia Bacha (U.S.)
“Cuchillo de palo” (108), by Renate Costa (Spain)
“Daniel Schmid — Le chat qui pense,” by Pascal Hofmann, Benny Jaberg
(Switzerland)
“David Wants To Fly,” by David Sieveking (Germany/Austria/Switzerland)
“To Fight For – The Year of Decision,” by Gerardo Milsztein (Germany) “Death By Installments,” by Ilona Ziok (Germany)
“I Shot My Love,” by Tomer Heymann (Israel/Germany)
“New York Memories,” by Rosa von Praunheim (Germany)
“Red, White and The Green,” by Nader Davoodi (Iran)
“Rock Hudson — Dark and Handsome Stranger,” by Andrew Davies, Andre Schaefer (Germany)
“A Film Unfinished,” by Yael Hersonski (Israel)

SUPPORTING FILMS
“Covered,” by John Greyson (Canada)
“Herbert White,” by James Franco (U.S.)
“The Feast of Stephen,” by James Franco (U.S.)
“Last Address,” by Ira Sachs (U.S.)

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