On Friday, we saw the first round of titles slated for the Panorama section of the sixty-eighth Berlin International Film Festival (February 15 through 25). Today, the Berlinale’s revealed the first ten titles lined up for the Competition.
Laura Bispuri’s Figlia mia (Daughter of Mine). World premiere. With Valeria Golino, Alba Rohrwacher, Sara Casu, and Udo Kier. From FilmItalia: “A daughter torn between two mothers, one who raised her with love and her biological mother, who instinctively claims her back. Three women struggling with primitive feelings, dealing with their wounds and inextricable bonds. The story of an imperfect motherhood and a wandering childhood.”
Alexey German Jr.’s Dovlatov. World premiere. With Milan Maric, Danila Kozlovsky, Helena Sujecka, Artur Beschastny, and Elena Lyadova. Ioncinema tells us that the film “explores four days in the life of cult Russian author Sergei Dovlatov in 1971, Leningrad. Collaborating with the author’s daughter Katherine, German is interested in capturing the particular scene of early ‘70s Leningrad.”
Philip Gröning’s Mein Bruder heißt Robert und ist ein Idiot (My Brother’s Name Is Robert and He’s an Idiot). World premiere. With Josef Mattes, Julia Zange, Urs Jucker, Stefan Konarske, Zita Aretz, Karolina Porcari, and Vitus Zeplichal. From kino.de comes word that Gröning’s co-written the screenplay with Sabine Timoteo. Robert and Elena are twins entangled in a tale of puberty and incest.
Benoît Jacquot’s Eva. Image above. World premiere. With Isabelle Huppert, Gaspard Ulliel, Julia Roy, and Richard Berry. “A psychological thriller, Eva is adapted from James Hadley Chase’s novel which turns on a beautiful, yet lethal woman, to be played by Huppert,” wrote Elsa Keslassy in Variety a year ago now. “The novel was previously adapted into a 1962 movie directed by Joseph Losey with Jeanne Moreau in the title role.”
Thomas Stuber’s In den Gängen (In the Aisles). World premiere. With Franz Rogowski, Sandra Hüller, and Peter Kurth. From Departures Film: “After losing his bricklaying job, Christian (27) begins to work as a shelf stacker at a supermarket. Christian finds himself in a new, unknown world: the long aisles, the bustle at the checkouts, the forklifts. He meets Rudi (‘Hi, I’m the boss of the night’), Pallet-Klaus (the only one allowed to run the pallet jack), TV-Jürgen (from the non-food area), and Bruno, from the beverages sector. Bruno shows him how the work is done, teaches him how to operate the forklift, becomes a fatherly friend. In the aisles, Christian also meets his colleague Confectionery-Marion (late 30’s, called after the sector she works at). The coffee machine turns into their meeting spot and they come closer. Soon Christian will be an accepted member of the hearty—in their own funny way—supermarket family.”
Małgorzata Szumowska’s Twarz (Mug). World premiere. With Mateusz Kościukiewicz, Agnieszka Podsiadlik, Małgorzata Gorol, Roman Gancarczyk, Dariusz Chojnacki, Robert Talarczyk, Anna Tomaszewska, and Martyna Krzysztofik. From what I can tell from this report in Interia Film, it’s about a man whose lost his face in an accident. Following a complex operation, he returns to his hometown, but no one there knows how to deal with him. Szumowska won a Silver Bear in 2015 for Body.
Gus Van Sant’s Don't Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. This’ll be the international premiere, following the world premiere at Sundance, whose synopsis reads: “John Callahan has a lust for life, a knack for off-color jokes, and a drinking problem. When an all-night bender ends in a catastrophic car accident, John wakes up to the reality of being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In his journey back from rock bottom, his honesty and wicked sense of humor turn out to be his saving grace, as he makes friends with an oddball AA group, finds that love is not beyond his reach, and develops a talent for drawing irreverent and sometimes shocking cartoons.” With Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, and Udo Kier.
Berlinale Special Gala
Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop. German premiere. With Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson. From One Two Films: “Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel of 1978, and set in a sleepy 1950’s English town, The Bookshop tells the story of Florence Green’s ultimately doomed attempt to re-energize an out of touch, morally somnambulant rural townsfolk through the dissemination of some of the most stirring literature of the day. . . . Through the dissemination of classic contemporary works of fiction such as Nabokov’s Lolita and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she stirs long buried feelings in the townsfolk and in particular in the reclusive Mr. Brundish with whom she subsequently strikes up a deep bond. But her actions bring the wrath of the controlling, vengeful Violet Gamart, a local social doyenne who is jealously affronted by the changes our heroine has affected.”
Lars Kraume’s Das schweigende Klassenzimmer (The Silent Revolution). World premiere. With Leonard Scheicher, Tom Gramenz, Lena Klenke, Jonas Dassler, Florian Lukas, Jördis Triebel, Michael Gwisdek, Ronald Zehrfeld, and Burghart Klaußner. “Kraume has followed his award-winning The People vs. Fritz Bauer with a tale of heroic rebellion during Germany’s postwar years—this time based on true events in the former GDR at the height of the Cold War,” according to German Films Quarterly. “The Silent Revolution centers on a group of sixth-grade pupils who decide to show their solidarity with the victims of the 1956 Hungarian uprising by staging a minute’s silence during lessons. While the school’s headmaster tries to dismiss their act as a youthful prank, the Party’s functionaries use every means at their disposal to find the ringleaders. But the teenagers stick together, even though it will mean them having to make a decision which will change their lives forever . . .”
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