Berlin’s new seven-member selection committee — four women and three men — comprises the core of new director Carlo Chatrian’s programming staff, which is led Canadian critic Mark Peranson. Peranson was the Locarno Film Festival’s chief of programming when Chatrian headed that Swiss festival. This year, Berlin is opening with “My Salinger Year,” starring Sigourney Weaver (above).
But Chatrian is quick to point out that his Berlin team is not a Locarno redux. Of the Berlin official selection gatekeepers, “four are people I worked with in Locarno and three are new,” he says. “On the one hand it was important for me to have people who know my tastes, and whom I know,” Chatrian notes. “On the other, it was just as important not to duplicate, not to copy, the Locarno model.”
That’s why the new Berlin programmers Chatrian is working with, former Panorama chief Pat Lazzaro, Verena Von Stackelberg, founder and manager of Berlin arthouse temple Wolf Kino, and Eastern European cinema expert Barbara Wurm, “brought a lot” to the team. “First of all, a knowledge of the festival and of German culture and cinema,” he says.
Also, two members of Chatrian’s former Locarno programming posse, Sergio Fant and Aurelie Godet, now on the Berlin team, both speak German, so they also “brought a different sensibility.”
Chatrian is also adamant about underlining his close collaboration with the programmers of Berlin’s sidebars.
“The festival isn’t just the competition, Encounters and Berlinale Special,” he says, pointing out that there is also Panorama, Generation, Forum and Perspectives on German Cinema.
“One of the things I enjoyed the most was the back-and-forth between sections,” he notes. “We would discuss a film…then it would go to Panorama…then a film that Panorama saw went to us. The same with Forum,” says Chatrian. “The goal is to make sure that there is dialogue between the artistic director and all the sections.”
Berlin’s new gatekeepers are:
Mark Peranson: An ardent cinephile who is well-wired into the global independent film community, Peranson is the editor and publisher of Canada’s Cinema Scope magazine. He was brought on board in Locarno by Chatrian’s predecessor, Olivier Pere. Peranson has also dabbled in directing with experimental docs “Waiting for Sancho” (2008) and “La última película” (2013) and has had cameos in pics such as Albert Serra’s “Birdsong” (2008) and Hong Sang-soo’s “On the Beach at Night Alone” (2017).
Lorenzo Esposito: The former collaborator with the Venice, Turin and Rome festivals, and a producer on Italian pubcaster RAI’s cult late-night film-buff program, “Fuori Orario,” Esposito is also a consultant for the Karlovy Vary fest and France’s Cinema du Reel, which is dedicated to documentaries. At Locarno he was in charge of the Italian cinema but his areas of expertise also covered cinema from Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Arab world.
Sergio Fant: Though Italian, he has long been based in Germany. Prior to serving on the Locarno team, Fant worked as a consultant/programmer for the Venice, Rome and Trento fests. His primary area of expertise is experimental cinema, but at Locarno he also oversaw German and Latin American movie selections.
Aurelie Godet: The former deputy director of French promotional entity UniFrance’s New York office, Godet also writes for Cahiers du Cinéma. She has been a Locarno programmer since 2013, and is a member of the advisory committee at Arte France Cinéma.
Paz Lázaro: Lázaro worked in film production, mainly in Spain, prior to joining the Berlinale as a programmer in various prominent guises, starting in 2006. She was director and curator of the Panorama section in 2018 and 2019 and has been on the Berlinale Series selection committee since 2015.
Verena von Stackelberg: She is also the film programmer at Soho House in Berlin. Von Stackelberg is the founder and managing director of Berlin arthouse cinema Wolf Kino, which opened in 2017 and includes a café-bar, a gallery space and a post-production studio.
Barbara Wurm: An expert on Eastern European film, Wurm is an an academic, author, critic and curator who has been on the selection committees of Germany’s DOK Leipzig, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and currently also works for the goEast Film Festival.