'Electrick Children,' 'Crown Jewels' among first 14 selections

BERLIN — Sex and religion and the longing for lost parents are among the prevalent themes apparent in the first selections for the Berlin Film Festival’s children and youth sidebar, Generation.

Organizers announced the first 14 feature films that will unspool in the section, including the world premiere of Rebecca Thomas’ U.S. pic “Electrick Children.” Julia Garner, Rory Culkin and Billy Zane star in the tale of a young Mormon girl who believes her pregnancy to be the result of an immaculate conception, while her fundamentally religious family regards it as an intolerable transgression.

In a similar vein, Marialy Rivas’ Chilean drama “Young & Wild” focuses on a girl whose sexual adventures puts her at odds with her evangelical parents.

They are among eight features so far selected for the older-skewing Generation 14plus, which also includes the world premiere of Gabriel Marino’s “A Secret World,” about a schoolgirl who sets off on a dangerous journey across Mexico in pursuit of her dreams.

Other titles include Ella Lemhagen’s Swedish crime drama “The Crown Jewels,” starring Bill Skarsgard and Alicia Vikander; Simon Staho’s Danish-Swedish teen musical “Love Is in the Air”; and Angelos Abazoglou’s Greek-British “Mustafa’s Sweet Dreams,” about a teenager striving to become a master baklava baker in Turkey.

Also unspooling are “Off White Lies,” Maya Kenig’s Israeli-French family drama set against the backdrop of the Second Lebanon War; and Han Lee’s South Korean title “Punch,” about a boy dealing with a cruel and disciplinary teacher.

The six pics so far chosen for the Generation Kplus tyke section include Indonesian helmer Kamila Andini’s “The Mirror Never Lies,” about a young girl who’s still convinced her father will return from fishing the oceans; and Nicole van Kilsdonk’s Dutch title “Taking Chances,” about a little girl who still hopes her father will return from a distant war despite his disappearance on a medical rescue mission.

Also screening are “Kauwboy,” a Dutch film by Boudewijn Koole, about a young boy who adopts a motherless baby bird; Alice Schmid’s Swiss doc “The Children from the Napf”; Janno Poldma and Heiki Ernits’s Estonian-Latvian animated film “Lotte and the Moonstone Secret”; and Rommel Tolentino Philippine pic “Nono.”

The Berlinale runs Feb. 9-19.

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