‘Shepherd,’ ‘German’ head to Berlin

Festival reveals first six competition titles

Robert De Niro’s CIA drama “The Good Shepherd,” Bille August’s South African tale “Goodbye Bafana,” Steven Soderbergh’s post-war drama “The Good German” and Teutonic director Christian Petzold’s “Yella” will be competing for the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Intl. Film Festival, which kicks off Feb. 8.

The first six competition titles, announced Thursday, include works by a number of Berlinale veterans, including August, Soderbergh and Petzold.

Park Chan-wook’s South Korean drama “I Am a Cyborg But That’s OK,” about a young woman in a psychiatric hospital who thinks she’s a cyborg but nevertheless falls in love, also will unspool in competition. Park first competed at the Berlinale six years ago with political thriller “Joint Security Area.”

Also selected for the Berlinale’s main section is Sam Garbarski’s Belgian-German-U.K. co-production “Irina Palm,” starring Marianne Faithfull as a 50-year-old widow so desperately in need of money that she unwittingly accepts a job in a sex club.

The first U.S. films to be announced for the fest, “The Good Shepherd” and “The Good German,” were expected selections for Berlin due to their political and historical subject matter and, in the case of Soderbergh’s film, the fact that the German capital plays a major role despite the pic being shot entirely on Hollywood backlots. Soderbergh was last in Berlin in 2003 with his sci-fi drama “Solaris.”

The selection of the films also makes it highly likely that George Clooney and Matt Damon, as well as De Niro and Soderbergh, will be on hand to provide star wattage for the fest.

August’s “Goodbye Bafana,” an international co-prod, chronicles the true story of James Gregory (Joseph Fiennes), a white South African prison guard whose life is profoundly altered when he meets the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, whom he ends up guarding for more than 20 years. August’s “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” unspooled in competition at the Berlinale in 1997.

Petzold’s “Yella,” the director’s second Berlinale contender after 2005’s “Ghosts,” follows a young woman from the former East German region of Brandenburg who begins a new job in western Germany in order to escape a wretched marriage.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content