German cinema looks set for a major boom this year with a strong lineup of diverse works that span historical dramas, coming-of-age tales, high-octane nostalgia, animation and sci-fi fun.

The Berlin Film Festival is bowing a muscular selection of local titles, among them “Afire,” by Berlinale mainstay Christian Petzold (“Undine”), screening in competition. The films centers on a group of young people staying at a holiday house near the Baltic Sea during a hot, dry summer, exploring volatile emotions that start to sizzle when a wildfire spreads through the surrounding forest.

Likewise vying for the Golden Bear is Margarethe von Trotta’s biopic “Ingeborg Bachmann: Journey Into the Desert,” starring Vicky Krieps (“Corsage”) as the radical Austrian author. The film examines her relationship with Swiss writer Max Frisch and her 1964 journey of self-discovery through the Egyptian desert.

“Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything,” by Emily Atef (“More Than Ever”) and based on the novel by Daniela Krien, is set in the Thuringian countryside of East Germany just prior to reunification in 1990 and follows a young woman who begins an all-consuming affair with a neighboring farmer twice her age.

In “Music,” Berlinale Silver Bear winner Angela Schanelec (“I Was at Home, But…”) tells a contemporary story inspired by the tragedy of Oedipus that follows a young man serving time in a prison, where he meets a kind warden.

Also in competition is “Till the End of the Night,” Christoph Hochhäusler’s romantic crime drama about an undercover cop pretending to be the lover of a trans woman, hoping the ruse will help him infiltrate a drug ring. German titles unspooling in the Berlinale Special sidebar include Robert Schwentke’s “Seneca,” a black comedy set in ancient Rome starring John Malkovich and Tom Xander that examines the strained relationship between the despotic Emperor Nero and his former tutor and adviser, the philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

In “Der vermessene Mensch,” Lars Kraume (“The People vs. Fritz Bauer”) again visits a dark period of German history with the first feature film to explore the country’s 19th-century colonization of Southwest Africa (present-day Namibia) and its genocide of the indigenous Ovaherero and Nama people.

“You can see how timely Germany’s colonial past is in the recent debates about looted art, restitution and discussions about ethnological collections, such as the one at the Humboldt Forum in Berlin,” says Kraume. “My recent films have all dealt with German history and up until now very little has been said about the German colonial era.”

David Wnendt’s “Sun and Concrete,” based on the autobiographical bestseller by popular comedian Felix Lobrecht, follows a group of teenage friends growing up in a social housing estate in Berlin and unable to stay out of trouble.

The Berlinale Special also presents “Loriot’s Great Cartoon Revue,” Peter Geyer’s 4K restored collection of 31 animated shorts spanning 1967 to 1993 from late German comedian, cartoonist and film director Vicco von Bülow, aka Loriot.

Salzgeber, which is selling the title internationally and releasing it in Germany, also presents “Drifter,” Hannes Hirsch’s feature film debut that unspools in Berlin’s Panorama section. The story follows a young man who moves to Berlin and, after being dumped by his boyfriend, begins to explore the city’s techno scene and his own repressed desires.

Panorama also presents Frauke Finsterwalder’s “Sisi & I,” the latest work about Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The film follows Countess Irma, played by “Toni Erdmann” star Sandra Hüller, as she accompanies the troubled Sisi (Susanne Wolff) to Greece to escape the stress of the royal court.

Opening the youth-targeted Generation 14plus section is Sonia Heiss’ coming-of-age comedy-drama “When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before,” based on Joachim Meyerhoff’s autobiographical bestseller about a boy growing up with his siblings on the premises of a sprawling psychiatric facility, where his father serves as clinic director. The film stars Devid Striesow, Laura Tonke and Merlin Rose.

Lukas   Nathrath’s   acclaimed “One Last Evening” is premiering at Berlin’s European Film Market. The Beta Cinema film won last year’s First Look Award in Locarno and world-premiered in Rotterdam’s Tiger competition. Shot mainly in one apartment in a single week on a micro budget, it centers on a young couple’s farewell dinner during the pandemic lockdown before they move from Hanover to Berlin. The evening, however, spirals out of control, uncovering hidden fears, secret longings and lies.

One Last Evening Courtesy of Lukas Nathrath

EFM premieres also include “Dark Satellites,” the latest film from director Thomas Stuber (“In the Aisles”), based on three short stories by writing partner Clemens Meyer that follow various people living on the fringes of society in Leipzig and struggling with loneliness, longing and the desire for love, among them a cleaning woman, a snack bar owner, a security guard and a young Ukrainian refugee. The Beta Cinema film stars Nastassia Kinski, Martina Gedeck, Charly Hübner, Peter Kurth and Albrecht Schuch.

Likewise presented by Beta Cinema is Adrian Goiginger’s German-Austrian co-production “The Fox,” which tells the true story of a young Austrian motor- cycle courier in the German army who, at the start of World War II, saves a fox cub that becomes his companion.

In Picture Tree Intl.’s black comedy “The Peacock,” by Lutz Heineking Jr. and based on the hit novel by Isabel Bogdan, a group of employees from a German investment bank arrive in a country estate in Scotland for a team-building seminar. Despite the picturesque setting and well-intentioned plans, mayhem ensues. The ensemble cast includes Tom Schilling (“Never Look Away”), David Kross (“A Stasi Comedy”), Lavinia Wilson and Jürgen Vogel (Caveman”).

PTI is likewise presenting the first promo for Marc Rothemund’s “Weekend Rebels,” a family dramedy based on Mirco von Juterczenka’s autobiographical book about a father (Florian David Fitz) who promises to help his young autistic son find a favorite soccer team. To do so, however, the boy must first see all 56 teams in the first, second and third divisions play live in their home stadiums. Looking beyond the Berlinale, a slew of upcoming 2023 releases certain to attract audiences of all ages.

Actor-director Til Schweiger revisits his first big-screen role in “Manta Manta — Zwoter Teil,” Constantin Film’s sequel to the huge 1991 action-comedy hit “Manta, Manta,” about young street racer Bertie and his prized Opel Manta B coupe. In the new film, the now-retired racer, facing hard times and in danger of losing his auto repair shop, decides to restore his old car and return to the track for a major race.

Also hitting theaters is “Rehragout-Rendezvouz,” the eighth installment in Constantin’s long-running “Bavarian Rhapsody” comedy franchise (sold internationally by PTI), which follows the misadventures of a laid-back cop in a small southern German town.

It’s “the most successful local-language franchise ever,” says Constantin CEO Martin Moszkowicz, noting that installments have outperformed major international blockbusters — including the last James Bond film — in Bavaria and regularly sell more than 1 million admissions.

New Constantin titles also include Laura Lackmann’s comedy “Caveman,” based on Rob Becker’s hit Broadway play “Defending the Caveman,” starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Wotan Wilke Möhring and Laura Tonke. Targeting younger viewers is Felix Binder’s sci-fi film “Wow! Nachricht aus dem All,” which follows 11-year-old Billie and her friend Dino as they discover possible extraterrestrial signals and, while searching for answers at the European Space Agency, inadvertently get locked in a rocket that is about to launch.

Offering more family fun is Toby Genkel’s animated “The Amazing Maurice,” whose international version features the voice talents of Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, David Thewlis and Himesh Patel. Produced by Hamburg-based Ulysses Filmproduktion and the U.K.’s Cantilever Media, the film is based on the book by Terry Pratchett and follows a streetwise cat, a young pipe player and a bands of rats who travel from town to town with the perfect scam, until   their   con is exposed. The Global Screen title is distributed domestically by Telepool.