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Berlinale 2022 Lineup

Kim Minhee in Hong Sangsoo’s The Novelist’s Film (2022)

As widely anticipated, Claire Denis’s new film starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Grégoire Colin, and Bulle Ogier will premiere in competition in Berlin. The new title is a surprise, though. Both Sides of the Blade, which distributor Wild Bunch still lists as Fire, is one of eighteen films lined up to compete at the seventy-second Berlinale. Seven of them are directed by women, and all but one are world premieres.

Artistic director Carlo Chatrian has also announced the lineup for Encounters, the competitive section he and his team introduced when they began programming the festival in 2020. “Here, we tend to invite filmmakers that do not consider cinema as a predefined art form,” says Chatrian, and among the fifteen selections are new films from Bertrand Bonello, Ruth Beckermann, Sho Miyake, Gastón Solnicki, and Peter Strickland.

Chatrian maintains a blog at the festival’s site, and in the run-up to this morning’s press conference, he defended his and executive director Mariette Rissenbeek’s decision to make this year’s edition, running from February 10 through 20, an in-person event despite predictions that the Omicron wave will peak in Germany in a few weeks. “This is not about imposing one modus operandi (in-person) in opposition to another (online), but rather about acting as the guardian of a space that is at risk of disappearing,” writes Chatrian. “If films claim and aspire to depict human beings and the world in which they live, they must address a community, an audience, and not a collection of users each with their own login.”

Competition

In Both Sides of the Blade, Binoche’s Sara and Lindon’s Jean have been together for ten years. When François (Colin), Sara’s former beau and Jean’s best friend, enters the picture, emotions spiral out of control. Denis hasn’t had a film in Berlin since Beau travail (1999) screened in the noncompetitive Forum program, and as Chatrian noted this morning, it’s high time the festival invited her to the competition. Denis is currently in postproduction on The Stars at Noon, an adaptation of Denis Johnson’s novel, and Binoche tells Variety’s Elsa Keslassy that not only will she be appearing in Antonio Campos’s miniseries The Staircase, she has also signed on to “a small but very exciting project” directed by Lance Hammer, who hasn’t made a feature since 2008’s award-winning Ballast.

Hong Sangsoo, whose Introduction premiered in competition in Berlin last year just a few months before he sent In Front of Your Face to Cannes, is back with The Novelist’s Film, his twenty-seventh feature. Independent sales agent Finecut has just picked up international rights to the black-and-white film starring Lee Hyeyoung, Kim Minhee, and Seo Younghwa and notes that it focuses on a writer who visits a friend at a bookstore before running into a film director and his wife. The three of them meet an actress, and they all grab a bite before returning to the bookstore for a round of drinks. “The actress gets drunk and falls asleep.” End of synopsis.

In That Kind of Summer, directed by Berlinale favorite Denis Côté, three women retreat to a house in the country to work through their sexual frustrations under the guidance of a social worker and a German therapist. Ursula Meier, who won a Silver Bear for Sister (2012), returns with The Line. Stéphanie Blanchoud plays thirty-five-year-old Margaret, who has been slapped with a three-month restraining order for having hit her mother. The enforced 200-meter distance only exacerbates her desire to grow closer to her family.

Paolo Taviani has directed his first feature without his brother Vittorio, who passed away in 2018. Drawing from Luigi Pirandello’s 1936 novella Il chiodo, Leonora addio weaves the tale of three surreal funerals into the story of the murder of a young Sicilian immigrant in Brooklyn. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a woman raising two teens on her own when she invites another troubled teen into her home in Mikhäel Hers’s The Passengers of the Night.

With Everything Will Be Ok, Rithy Panh reteams with the crew that helped him realize The Missing Picture, his 2013 documentary on the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s. Clay diorama figurines will depict a world in which the animals have taken over. Indonesian director Kamila Andini (The Mirror Never Lies, Yuni) tells the story of a woman whose life has been upended by the conflict between leftists and government forces in the 1960s in Before, Now & Then.

Six years after his last feature, the documentary Safari, and nine years after Paradise: Hope premiered in competition in Berlin, Ulrich Seidl is back with Rimini, the story of a faded pop star chasing past glory in the wintry seaside town. In Catalonian director Carla Simón’s Alcarràs, a family that has cultivated the same soil for eighty years comes together for one last harvest.

Nicolette Krebitz, whose Wild picked up a handful of German Film Awards in 2017, will bring A E I O U - A Quick Alphabet of Love, the story of an out-of-work actress who takes on a new student who turns out to be the guy who mugged her a few nights ago outside a trendy bar in Berlin. Andreas Dresen’s Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush is based on the true story of a Turkish mother in Bremen who teamed up with Bernhard Docke, a human rights lawyer, to fight for the release of her son from Guantanamo. Marco and Anna, young lovers in a mountain village, struggle against the effects of his brain tumor in Michael Koch’s A Piece of Sky.

Natalia López Gallardo, who appeared in her husband Carlos Reygadas’s Our Time (2018) and has edited most of his films, will make her directorial feature debut with Robe of Gems. Noémie Merlant and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart play a couple sorting through the aftermath of the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris in Isaki Lacuesta’s One Year, One Night. Another couple, Ma and Cao, learn to live and work together after they have been forced into an arranged marriage in Li Ruijun’s Return to Dust.

The one competition title that will premiere first at Sundance is Call Jane, directed by Phyllis Nagy, who is still primarily known for writing the screenplay for Todd Haynes’s Carol (2015). Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, and Kate Mara star in the story set in Chicago in 1968, when a secret network of women was providing illegal but safe abortions. As noted a few days ago, the competition will open with Peter von Kant, François Ozon’s reimagining of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972).

Encounters and More

Fifteen features have been selected to compete in the Encounters program, including Bertrand Bonello’s Coma, which tackles the effect of online culture on the minds of young girls; Gastón Solnicki’s A Little Love Package, a comedy that begins in Vienna and ends up in Málaga; Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet, which tracks power struggles at a culinary institute; Ruth Beckermann’s documentary Mutzenbacher, a study of the effect of a Viennese erotic novel written in 1906 on men today; and Sho Miyake’s boxing drama Small, Slow but Steady.

The Berlinale Special is a versatile mix of galas and titles that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. Lucrecia Martel’s Terminal norte, for example, is a television special spotlighting singer Julieta Laso. Andrew Dominik’s This Much I Know to Be True is a documentary on the collaboration between musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. And Dark Glasses is a new giallo from Dario Argento in which a sex worker in Rome teams up with a young Chinese boy to rid themselves of the serial killer that blinded her.

Among the twenty-seven features lined up for the Forum, the section founded in 1971 in response to the political tumult that had begun in the late 1960s, are new works from James Benning, Rita Azevedo Gomes, Dane Komljen, Travis and Erin Wilkerson, Éric Baudelaire, and Alain Gomis. A special program dedicated to films from the past by directors of color working in Germany presents features by Med Hondo, Hito Steyerl, Raoul Peck, and Forensic Architecture.

Nobody’s Hero, directed by Alain Guiraudie (Stranger by the Lake, Staying Vertical), will open Panorama, the program that describes itself as “explicitly queer, explicitly feminist, explicitly political.” A terrorist attack sends Clermont-Ferrand, a city in central France, into a state of panic while Médéric (Jean-Charles Clichet) falls for an older married sex worker (Noémie Lvovsky) and Selim (Iliès Kadri), young and homeless, takes refuge in Médéric’s building.

The Generation programs are aimed at younger viewers, and Perspektive Deutsches Kino will introduce cinephiles to new German talent. Lone Scherfig’s The Shift will premiere in the Berlinale Series program, and Berlinale Classics will present the world premieres of new restorations of seven films including Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma (1962), Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower (1964), and Jean-Luc Godard’s Our Music (2004).

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