Berlin Film Festival Launches New Competitive Section ‘Encounters’

Under the new leadership of artistic chief Carlo Chatrian and executive director Mariette Rissenbeek, the Berlin Film Festival is instituting a new competitive section, along with a few other changes to the Berlinale program.

On top of the international competition for the Golden and Silver Bears and the Berlinale Shorts sections, the festival will now boast a competitive roster called Encounters that will showcase “daring works from independent, innovative filmmakers,” as well as “give more room to diverse narrative and documentary forms in the official selection,” the festival said in a release Tuesday.

The Encounters lineup will comprise 15 titles maximum, either fiction or documentary films of at least 60 minutes in length, which will have their world or international premieres at Berlin. A three-member jury will choose winners for best film, best director and a special jury award.

“The 21st century, with its technological and economical shifts, has changed film production in many ways, making boundaries between fiction and documentary, film essay and genre less stable and more porous,” said Chatrian.

Chatrian, who used to run the Locarno Film Festival, said the Berlinale is “committed to propelling the market and discovering new cinematic visions.”

Rissenbeek said Encounters was “an ideal supplement for competition and the whole of the festival’s program spectrum.”

The Culinary Cinema section is being axed. The festival said it would look to incorporate culinary-themed films in the existing festival sections.

The pair also unveiled a new selection committee which will now take on film scouting in Europe and other countries. Aside from the previously announced members, Jacob Wong (China, Taiwan and Hong Kong), Ryan Werner (USA), Paz Lázaro (Latin America), Eduardo Valente (Brazil), Meenakshi Shedde (India and South Asia), Maryanne Redpath (Australia and New Zealand) and Dorothee Wenner (Sub-Saharan Africa) have been appointed in their respective regions.

In addition, Norman Wang, Luciano Monteagudo, Dennis Lim, Jason Ryle, and former longtime EFM director Beki Probst will work as advisors and will relay information on the state of culture and cinema, as well as facilitate relationships with filmmakers and/or the film industry.

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