Berlinale Special has added one illuminating title; a powerful documentary that looks back at a past that mirrors the present. Kiss the Future is an inescapably current story of defiance, highlighting the struggle of the citizens of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War and how aid-worker Bill Carter’s determination resulted in the enlistment of the world’s largest rock band, U2, to help shine a light when the world wasn’t paying attention. As relevant now as it was then.
There was also an announcement earlier this morning about the series of books which will participate in the Books at Berlinale – Eleven Books on Route to Adaptation. And, what seems most exciting, as well as necessary in today's movie going landscape, the announcement of A Salute to the Local Cinema Landscape, an incentive to bring attention to the various arthouse theaters throughout the city of Berlin.
Since 2010, Berlinale Goes Kiez has been celebrating the city's arthouse cinemas as sites of living film culture. From February 18 to 24, the Red Carpet will be rolled out in front of a new neighborhood cinema on a daily basis. The festival audience is invited to discover the diversity of the local cinema landscape, to watch select festival films and to encounter international film teams. The series is accompanied by an additional special screening at a correctional facility in Plötzensee.
Plus, the announcement that the program press conference for the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival with an outlook on the festival and the presentation of the Competition and Encounters film selection will be held on January 23, 2023, at 11 am, CET.
But a film festival is nothing without great films and this year's Berlinale has some real gems so far, which we've outlined in other pieces. Today, these were some of the titles added that deal with the MENA region.
Featured in the header image above is And, Towards Happy Alleys by Sreemoyee Singh, featuring Jafar Panahi, Nasrin Soutodeh, Jinous Nazokkar, Farhad Kheradmand and Aida Mohammadkhani. The Indian documentary is a world premiere in Panorama and also happens to be Singh's debut feature. The documentary features "a passionate declaration of love for the cinema and poetry of Iran, which also offers a frank view of the precarious situation for criticsof the regime and shows the uncompromising daily struggle of Iranian women against their oppression." Amen to that, we say!
While hardly a MENA-centric title, we are also excited to watch the upcoming documentary on music legend Joan Baez titled Joan Baez I Am A Noise, directed by Karen O'Connor, Miri Navasky, Maeve O'Boyle and featuring Baez, along with Mimi Farina, Bob Dylan and David Harris.
Motståndaren (Opponent) by Milad Alami features Iranian superstar Payman Maadi, along with Marall Nasiri, Björn Elgerd and Ardalan Esmaili. The film was shot in Sweden and will world premiere in Panorama. It tells the story of "Iman, an Iranian, who lives with his family in Sweden in an ever-changing succession of refugee hostels. To increase his chances of obtaining residence permits for them all, he resumes his career as a wrestler – and is confronted with why he had to flee."
The world premiere of the documentary Under the Sky of Damascus by Heba Khaled, Talal Derki and Ali Wajeeh rounds up the titles from the Region in this year's Panorama section.
In Generation 14plus the Israeli/Polish/German title Ha’Mishlahat (Delegation) directed by Asaf Saban which tackles how "a school trip to Shoah memorials confronts young Israelis with a part of their identity and simultaneously with emotions and dynamics among themselves. A living appropriation of the past anchored in the present."
The short film Man khod, man ham miraghsam (And Me, I’m Dancing Too) by Mohammad Valizadegan also screens in Generation 14plus. It is the filmmaker's directorial debut and the story is described as "in her native Iran, Saba is not free to express herself through dance. When she rebels against the rigid rules in a poetic act of defiance, the lines between documentary and fiction begin to blur."
Aziz Zoromba is a Canadian filmmaker of Egyptian heritage and his short film Simo also screens in Generation 14plus. The film features performances by Basel El Rayes, Seif El Rayes and Aladeen Tawfeek and tells this story, as per its synopsis: "Simo secretly takes over his big brother's gaming live stream. Suddenly, the number of viewers explodes -- and brings an unexpected opponent onto the scene. The nuanced film illuminates the dynamics in a family that moves closer together through detours."
Also exciting is a special screening of the restored version of Disney's animated classic Cinderella which should be phenomenal to watch once again on the big screen.
For all the Berlinale titles announced so far check out their website.
Header image by © Happy Alley Films, used with permission of the Berlinale