Berlinale Series Head Julia Fidel on Reflecting Diversity in Serialized Storytelling

Sexual exploration, indigenous perspectives and refugees of all stripes characterize much of this year’s selections at the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Series showcase.

It’s the first edition under Julia Fidel, who took over as the section’s head from Solmaz Azizi last year, and while she’s not shaking things up, she’s is looking to put her own stamp on the lineup.

“I wanted series that I am interested in and I’m interested in something that breaks the boundaries of what you expect from a series,” Fidel says. “When I was a teenager and saw ‘Twin Peaks,’ I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I want that feeling when I’m watching something.

“You could say I was more interested in having a lot of arthousey — or quite exceptional — complex serial storytelling here. I wanted something that reflected the huge diversity that you have in television. I think series have so many more perspectives on the world. There is so much that is not in English language, there is so much that is from all kinds of communities, from queer communities, indigenous communities.”

While Berlinale Series is officially curated by Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian, Fidel helped put together a lineup that would find wide resonance with both her boss and audiences.

This year’s selection focuses heavily on sexual relationships and erotic entanglements with shows like Canada’s “Happily Married,” about two suburban married couples in 1974 Quebec who embark on a liberating adventure while their kids are away at camp; “Sex,” a Danish drama about a young woman eager to explore her sexuality with a female friend despite her boyfriend’s misgivings; and “Trigonometry,” a U.K. series about a heterosexual couple in London who take in a female roommate and quickly become a loving threesome.

Also screening are highly anticipated productions from high-profile creators.

In Cate Blanchett’s Australian series “Stateless,” four strangers fleeing difficult pasts cross paths in an immigration detention center in the Australian desert.

Jason Segel’s U.S. title “Dispatches from Elsewhere” is an anthology about an enigmatic institute that promises a chosen few an escape from everyday life. Segel stars alongside Sally Field.

From Austria, “Freud” offers a modern look at a young cocaine-consuming Sigmund Freud as he embarks on a nerve-wracking, hypnotic trip into the depths of the human soul with a mysterious medium and a traumatised policeman.

In French drama “The Eddy,” a bandleader navigates a score of problems as he struggles to keep his Parisian jazz club in business and fend off ruthless debt collectors who are breathing down his neck.

The section is also screening Seasin 2 of “Mystery Road,” an Australian crime drama and spin-off of Ivan Sen’s films “Mystery Road” and “Goldstone,” which follows an indigenous police detective on a homicide investigation in a remote outback town.

Praising her predecessor at the Berlinale, Fidel says: “I really like what Solmaz did here. I thought she did an amazing job, so I never I wanted to change everything. I came here to protect and continue what she built up here and then give it my own mark.”

Fidel previously worked for the Berlinale’s Panorama and Generation sections and served as a member of the selection committee for the latter. A trained dancer, she has also choreographed for films and series, including a number of eye-popping dance scenes on the hit German historical crime drama “Babylon Berlin.”

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