The much anticipated first films to be featured at this year's Berlinale have been announced, in the Panorama and Generations sections, as well as a press release announcing the return of a full on, in person European Film Market after two years of virtual meetings.
Panorama 2023: Tracking the Unseen. Films as Tools of Resistance
Films from Ukraine, Yemen and about Iran are among the first to have been confirmed for the Panorama line-up which also features strong feminist cinema from the US. The 2023 programme manifests a worldwide trend towards transnational filmmaking in both fiction films and documentaries. Of the 14 films selected, 11 are world premieres, with a total of 19 countries involved. There are new films by Sepideh Farsi, Jennifer Reeder, Tina Satter, Sacha Polak, Malene Choi and Ira Sachs.
Al Murhaqoon (The Burdened) by Amr Gamal, is a Yemen, Sudan and KSA co-production. The world premiere tells the story of Isra’a when she discovers she is expecting another baby amid the civil war in Yemen, and with her husband they decide she should have an abortion.
Au cimetière de la pellicule (The Cemetery of Cinema) by Thierno Souleymane Diallo, is a France, Senegal, Guinea, Saudi Arabia co-production. The documentary follows Diallo as he sets out with his camera in search of the birth of filmmaking in Guinea. Charming and determined, he traces his country’s film heritage and history and reveals the importance of film archives. Also a world premiere in Berlin.
La Sirène (The Siren) by Sepideh Farsi, which is pictured in the header above, is an animation feature world premiering in Berlin. Its story reads "Iran, 1980. After an Iraqi missile strike, the oil metropolis of Abadan descends into chaos. Fourteen-year-old Omid, who works as a food delivery boy, is searching for his missing brother – and for an escape route out of the besieged city."
“This year features impressive independent filmmaking from across the globe. The many works by filmmakers worldwide who are using their films to defy war, systematic persecution and oppression are particularly striking. The trend towards transnational filmmaking is reflected in the numerous strong submissions. This all creates a rich breeding ground for a wide-ranging, highly topical 2023 Panorama,” observes section head Michael Stütz.
Generation 2023: The World In View
Generation confirms the first films of the Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus competitions: nine short films and nine full-length films, among them eleven world premieres and eight feature-length film debuts. The first films confirmed so far hint at a program that embraces both perceptive assessments of the state of the world as well as fantastical assertions of personal truths – in both content and cinematic language.
In the Generation K14 Plus section, Darvazeye royaha (Dreams' Gate) by Negin Ahmadi will also world premiere in Berlin. It is a documentary Iran, France, Norway co-production which follows the journey of Ahmadi herself, who, driven by the desire to understand her inner truth as a marginalized woman in Iran, embarks on a self-exploring precarious adventure to meet the Kurdish women fighters in the war zone of North Syria.
“Generation is excited about cinema that places perspectives and personal experiences of young people at their centre and that allow young audiences to see and envision themselves anew. A cinematic experience that holds up a mirror to a world created by others – and one that acts as a window onto a world that can be possible,” says section head Sebastian Markt regarding the first part of the program selection.
The section's complete program will be announced in mid-January.
In-Person Edition of European Film Market 2023 is Attracting Large Numbers of Visitors, plus there are Innovations and Focus at Potsdamer Platz
Two months before the start of the renewed in-person edition of the European Film Market (EFM) at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival, the exhibition spaces in the Gropius Bau and Marriott Hotel are almost already fully booked. In 2023, the market activities will be concentrated exclusively around Potsdamer Platz: The conference programme of the EFM Industry Sessions as well as market screenings and the Berlinale Series Market will take place in the immediate vicinity of the Gropius Bau.
And finally, the Berlinale announced more venues, amidst expansion. After two editions which took place with reduced capacity, due to the worldwide pandemic, the Berlinale cinemas are ready to be filled in full capacity. In order to welcome at best the audiences and festival guests, and to celebrate the big comeback of the most beloved winter-event in town, the Berlinale announced that it will expand its cinema network throughout the city, incorporating new exciting venues.
“The Berlinale Palast with the Competition and Berlinale Special Gala films, the Red Carpet and fan area, will stay the heart of the festival. In addition, however, we have further developed the decentralised location of the festival so that cinema fans can experience ‘their’ Berlinale directly in their neighborhood,” comment the Berlinale directors Mariëtte Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.
With the inclusion of Verti Music Hall in 2023, the Berlinale shows an even stronger presence in the Berlin-Friedrichshain district. This additional venue will host repeat screenings of the Competition films, as well as selected Berlinale Special Gala premieres, in a large space equipped with nearly 2,000 seats.
The Urania cinema will serve as the main venue for the Generation section, which is unable to return to Haus der Kulturen der Welt in 2023 due to construction work.
The heritage-protected theatre of the Colosseum in Prenzlauer Berg will also once again be serving as a Berlinale cinema in 2023 – the historic space is slated to host repeat screenings from diverse sections.
Photo courtesy of Berlinale, used with permission.