As the winter festivals roll out their lineups, their efforts to correct the gender imbalance in the industry are palpable. Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig, whose 2009 film An Education was nominated for three Oscars, will open the sixty-ninth Berlin International Film Festival on February 7. The Kindness of Strangers, which tracks a group of friends through a winter in New York, stars Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim, Andrea Riseborough, and Caleb Landry Jones, with Jay Baruchel and Bill Nighy in supporting roles. Scherfig’s 2001 Dogme film Italian for Beginners won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale in 2001, and The Kindness of Strangers will also premiere in competition.
The selection of Scherfig’s film is in line with the theme of the Berlinale’s 2019 retrospective, Self-Determined: Perspectives of Women Filmmakers. The program of narrative and documentary features and shorts made by German directors between 1968 and 1999 will include work by Helma Sanders-Brahms, Jutta Brückner, Ulrike Ottinger, and Angela Schanelec. Other filmmakers such as Margarethe von Trotta will take part in discussions of working in East and West Germany and then in the reunified country after the fall of the wall in Berlin in 1989.
In other festival news, Sundance has announced a lineup of experimental media works slated for its New Frontier program, emphasizing that nearly half of their makers are women. Riffing on the “Seven Ages of Man” speech from As You Like It, the Royal Shakespeare Company has created a “mixed reality experience.” Victor Kossakovsky, probably best known for ¡Vivan las Antipodas! (2011), has new work called simply Aquarela, a “cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water.” And Eminem guides viewers through a virtually real night in his hometown in Marshall from Detroit.
Sergei Loznitsa won an award for directing Donbass when his journey through contemporary Ukraine premiered in the Un Certain Regard program at Cannes in May. The Museum of the Moving Image has announced that Donbass will see its New York premiere on January 11 when it opens First Look 2019, the museum’s annual survey of new and innovative international cinema. First Look will close on January 20 with the U.S. premiere of Claire Simon’s Young Solitude, a group portrait of students at a high school in a Parisian suburb.