Don’t know where to start with the jumbo-sized Berlin festival lineup? Join “The Club,” as the latest film from Oscar-nominated “No’s” director Pablo Larrain is called. The good news is that this year’s program offers plenty of enticing titles, clustered around a few intriguing trends.
A Platform for Hollywood
Last year, Berlin set “The Grand Budapest Hotel” off on the right foot. The film went on to become the highest-grossing film of Wes Anderson’s career. Universal has even bigger expectations for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which plans to seduce its first crowds in Berlin. On the more demure side, Disney will unwrap its live-action, Kenneth Branagh-made “Cinderella,” while “Twilight” director Bill Condon offers a low-key, late-life look at suddenly ubiquitous Sherlock with “Mr. Holmes.”
Films We Expected to See in Park City
There are a handful of titles that skipped U.S. fests to premiere in Berlin. For example, “Listen Up Philip” director Alex Ross Perry’s new film, “Queen of Earth” (starring Elisabeth Moss), sounds like a quintessential American indie. Perry’s previous film debuted at Sundance, as did Mitchell Lichtenstein’s first feature, “Teeth,” though he opted to launch his latest, “Angelica,” in Berlin. A year after unveiling his doc “Rich Hill” in Sundance, Andrew Droz Palermo will screen his narrative directorial debut, “One & Two,” in the fest’s Generation 14plus sidebar.
A Cannes-Quality Competition Lineup?
Though Berlin often finds itself at the mercy of Cannes when it comes to picking films from first-rate auteurs, this year’s lineup features new films from filmmakers who’ve proven themselves worthy of the Croisette — including Isabel Coixet, who played Cannes in 2009. That said, opening-night selection “Nobody Wants the Night” is the seventh of Coixet’s films to screen in Berlin, which has also been immensely supportive of Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi. His latest, “Taxi,” will compete alongside new films from Cannes vets Pablo Larrain (“The Club”), Terrence Malick (“Knight of Cups”), Peter Greenaway (“Eisenstein in Guanajuato”), Patricio Guzman (“The Pearl Button”) and Benoit Jacquot (“Diary of a Chambermaid,” a fresh adaptation of the novel that inspired the Bunuel classic).
If Their Last Films Were Any Indication
The lineup also includes plenty of new work from less-established helmers who’ve impressed in the past. For example, Andrew Haigh (creator of HBO’s “Looking”) delivers his first feature since “Weekend,” once again challenging notions of sexual identity with “45 Years.” Also in competition, Polish helmer Malgorzata Szumowska (“In the Name of”) returns with “Body,” and “Downfall” director Oliver Hirschbiegel once again tackles Hitler with “13 Minutes,” about an attempt to assassinate the fuhrer. In Forum, Austrian actor-turned-helmer Karl Markovics (who starred in “The Counterfeiters” and made “Breathing”) will screen his second feature, “Superworld,” alongside new films from fellow Austrian Nikolaus Geyrhalter (“Over the Years”) and provocative Algerian helmer Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche (“The Story of Judas”).