Twenty-two years ago, François Ozon’s Water Drops on Burning Rocks, based on the 1966 play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, premiered in competition in Berlin. Ozon’s fourth feature won the Teddy, an award presented to LGBTQ-themed films by an independent jury, and a few months later, it won the best feature award at NewFest. In the New York Times,A. O. Scott called Water “a beguiling and disconcerting blend of anxiety and comedy [that] achieves an improbable marriage of Gallic levity and Teutonic gravity.”
With his twenty-second feature, Ozon returns to Fassbinder, reimagining the German director’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) as Peter von Kant. A renowned filmmaker falls for a dashing young man, jump-starts his movie career, and watches as he becomes a star and drifts away. Peter von Kant, starring Denis Ménochet, Isabelle Adjani, and Hanna Schygulla (who appeared in Bitter Tears), will premiere in competition as the opening film of the seventy-second Berlinale on February 10.
Even as Ulrike Gote, Berlin’s health minister, warns that Omicron is about to slam the city hard, she’s in favor of the Berlinale going ahead as an in-person event. On Wednesday, the Berlinale presented its “new concept” for this year’s edition. Attendees will have to be either vaccinated or recovered and definitely masked up. Theaters will be cut to fifty-percent capacity. And the competition will wrap sooner than originally planned, with the presentation of the awards scheduled for February 16. Four days of repeat screenings at Berlinale venues across the city will follow.
“We are not downsizing the festival in the sense that we are cutting down the program,” artistic director Carlo Chatrian tells Variety’s Nick Vivarelli. “The lineup was already done when we had to change our formula. But we haven’t had any cancellations caused by the new concept.” On Thursday, the Berlinale announced a fresh round of titles for the Berlinale Shorts program, which will include new work from Radu Jude, Sky Hopinka, and Lois Patiño; a Forum Special dedicated to the work of Black directors and directors of color in Germany; the Forum Expanded program of new films, installations, and performances; and the complete Perspektive Deutsches Kino selection spotlighting new German talent.
Sundance, Slamdance, and Rotterdam
It’s tough for a winter festival during a pandemic. Last week, Sundance announced that it had made the “difficult decision” to go virtual for the second year running because “we cannot knowingly put our staff and community at risk.” For Filmmaker,Anthony Kaufman talks with directors, distributors, and festival director Tabitha Jackson about the challenges of connecting films with audiences scattered around the country. “Our role is to show films that are going to have cultural, social, and political value that are cinematically strong and that audiences will respond to,” says Jackson. “And sometimes, it doesn’t go as the film teams wished, and sometimes, it massively exceeds their expectations.”
On Wednesday, Sundance added two documentaries to its lineup. In The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, Abigail Disney, the grandniece of Walt, and Kathleen Hughes examine the origins of the severe economic inequality in the country. Amy Berg’s Phoenix Rising tracks Evan Rachel Wood’s efforts to help victims of domestic violence and abuse seek—and find—justice.
On Twitter, critic and programmer C. J. Prince reminds us that a pass to the entirety of this year’s virtual edition of Slamdance can be had for a mere ten dollars. In the meantime, the festival has announced that it will be launching the Slamdance Channel on opening day, January 27, with new programming added on February 7, the day after the festival wraps. “We are an anti-algorithm, artist-led collective, continually hellbent on sharing original film work with a wider audience,” Slamdance president and cofounder Peter Baxter tells Deadline’s Valerie Complex. “We’re looking forward to seeing how our Channel develops and fits into the bigger picture of a decentralized media future.”
Rotterdam, which will run online from January 26 through February 6, has announced its Tiger and Big Screen competition selections. At Cineuropa, David Katz points out that the lineups include Ursula Antoniak’s Splendid Isolation, “a post-catastrophe drama that had been rumored for other major festivals,” as well as new work from Jacques Doillon and Mabrouk El Mechri.
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