Docs explore Arab Spring, queer activism, anti-globalization protest

BERLIN — Revolution will be in the air at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

The Arab Spring, the international gay rights movement and the legacy of the brutal police crackdown on anti-globalization demonstrators at the 2001 G8 in Genoa are among the topics of the 18 documentaries screening as part of the Panorama Dokumente sidebar, announced Wednesday.

The section opens with British director Sean McAllister’s “The Reluctant Revolutionary,” about a Yemenite tourist guide who slowly abandons his professional distance toward the political spring in his country.

Two docs examine events in Egypt last year. In Mai Iskander’s “Words of Witness,” a 22-year-old female journalist questions people on the streets about parliamentary elections and democracy, while Hanan Abdalla’s “In the Shadow of a Man” gives women the opportunity to offer their views on the uprisings.

Queer cinema has always played a significant role in Panorama and docs from the U.S., Uganda, Indonesia and Germany likewise take a revolutionary slant.

Jeffrey Schwarz’s “Vito” looks at the life of American film historian and gay activist Vito Russo, whose book, “The Celluloid Closet,” became the basis for Russo’s Berlinale lecture in 1983, and also inspired Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Teddy-winning 1996 film.

The German gay movements in the East and West are explored in Markus Stein and Roesener Ringo’s “Among Men — Gay in East Germany,” and Stefan Westerwelle and Jan Rothstein’s “Detlef.”

Italian duo Franco Fracassi and Massimo Lauria explore the death of anti-globalization demonstrator Carlo Giuliani, killed by police in Genoa during the G8 summit protests.

Meanwhile, the Berlinale is honoring New German Cinema pioneer Haro Senft with its Camera award.

Senft’s works include 1967′s “Der sanfte Lauf,” starring Bruno Ganz in his first major role. In the 1970s and 1980s Senft devoted himself to children’s films.

Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick went to Senft’s Munich home to hand over the honor since the 84-year-old can no longer travel.

The Berlinale, which presents the award to thank personalities or institutions to which it feels indebted, will unspool Senft’s 1978 tyke pic “Ein Tag mit den Wind” as part of the tribute.

The Berlinale runs Feb. 9-19.

Full list of Panorama Dokumente films:

“Children of Srikandi,” the Children of Srikandi Collective (Germany/Indonesia)

“Democracy Under Attack — An Intervention,” Romuald Karmakar (Germany)

“Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992,” Dagmar Schultz (Germany)

“Broetzmann: That’s When the World is Mine,” Uli M. Schueppel (Germany)

Call Me Kuchu,” Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Katherine Fairfax Wright (U.S.)

“Detlef,” Stefan Westerwelle, Jan Rothstein (Germany)

“Henryk From the Back Row,” Andreas Dresen (Germany)

“In the Shadow of a Man,” Hanan Abdalla (Egypt)

“King of Comics,” Rosa von Praunheim (Germany)

“The Virgin, the Copts and Me,” Namir Abdel Messeeh (France/Qatar/Egypt)

“Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” Matthew Akers (U.S.)

“Look at Me Again,” Kiko Goifman, Claudia Priscilla (Brazil)

“The Reluctant Revolutionary,” Sean McAllister (U.K.)

“The Summit,” Franco Fracassi, Massimo Lauria (Italy)

“Ulrike Ottinger: Nomad From the Lake,” Brigitte Kramer (Germany)

“Among Men — Gay in East Germany,” Markus Stein, Roesener Ringo (Germany)

“Vito,” Jeffrey Schwarz (U.S.)

“Words of Witness,” Mai Iskander (U.S.)

Feature films

“Diaz: Don’t Clean Up this Blood,” Daniele Vicari (Italy/Romania/ France)

“Central Station,” Ami Livne (Israel/France/Germany)

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