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Berlin Film Festival to Get its Own Critics’ Week

Event to world premiere Bernard Emond's 'Le Journal d’un vieil homme'

LONDON — The Berlin Film Festival is going to have its own Critics’ Week, following the example of Cannes, Venice and Locarno. The organizers have set out to select films that will “spark subsequent debates concerning aspects of cinema and film criticism.”

Critics’ Week Berlin, which has been set up by the German Film Critics’ Assn. and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, will run Feb. 5-12 at the Hackesche Höfe Kino. All films will be screened in their original language with English subtitles. The event is independent of the Berlin Film Festival, but all film professionals and members of the press with a Berlinale accreditation will be granted free admission to Critics’ Week screenings.

The first edition will consist of 10 movies, with two announced so far. The event will present the world premiere of Bernard Emond’s “Le Journal d’un vieil homme” (The Diary of an Old Man), which is adapted from the Chekhov novella “A Dreary Story.” Pic centers on a famous doctor, who doesn’t have long to live. He questions his existence, feeling powerless in the face of the malaise of his adopted daughter, whom he adores. The other selected film is Johnnie To’s romantic comedy “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2,” which will play as a double bill with the first film.

The selection committee, which consists of Dunja Bialas, Frederic Jaeger, Dennis Vetter, Lukas Foerster and Michael Kienzl, has sought to encompass “stirring, daring, surprising cinema,” and sets out to create a springboard for “cultural and critical discussion.”

According to the Critics’ Week website, the event creates “a hub for everyone who connects intellectual reflection with the sensual pleasure of watching films.”

It draws inspiration from filmmaker Dietrich Brüggemann, the winner of the Silver Berlin Bear in 2014, who commented: “A feature of other film festivals that’s missing in Berlin is a place where instead of piling masses of films onto each other, ‘cinema’ as a whole is considered and discovered in single screenings.”

The organizers also quote filmmaker Dominik Graf, who said: “Lively, smart, experimental, joyous and true-to-life filmmaking can only be reinforced and advanced by thinking and seeing cinema with knowledge of its history and its possibilities.”

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