Everyone wants to be there, but tickets are scarce: the Berlinale is electrifying the capital like it hasn't been in years. But where can you see Kristen Stewart, Sean Penn, Steven Spielberg, Cate Blanchett or even Boris Becker? Which film causes a sensation and what are the biggest flops? Who shows up as a surprise and who causes a scandal? Follow the Berlinale live – even without a ticket!
What makes Sean Penn drive to the front line? “We want to go where there is fighting,” he says to his Ukrainian companion. That's where he comes from. “The Russians are over there, 150 meters across the river,” a soldier informs him. "Who will be responsible if you are killed here?" asks his companion. She receives no response in Penn's documentary Superpower.
The actor was in Ukraine for the first time in November 2021, three months before the Russian attack that everyone now says could have been foreseen. In the film, everyone, including journalists, policy advisers and Penn himself, say they think an attack is unlikely. They're still saying that when they're sitting together in Kiev in the evening a few days before the attack.
Penn is here to shoot a portrait of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which impresses him. A comedian who once said on a soap opera that he wanted to be President and has become President. An outsider in politics who surpasses himself in the crisis. Penn has an interview appointment with the President - on February 24, 2022. The day before, everyone is very nervous because Putin has further increased his aggressive rhetoric.
The following 24 hours are the film's strongest. Coincidence has placed Penn and his crew at the place where world history is being written. Putin's declaration of war early this morning. The first rocket hits in the city. Penn smoking Penn roaming outside his hotel at dawn. In fact, there's practically no scene in "Superpower" that doesn't feature Penn, with his furrowed forehead and his messy hair. He usually sits there with a serious expression and listens to a conversation partner who explains the situation to him. "Shame on me that I had so little idea of what had happened on the Maidan and Crimea," he occasionally says.
And then it really happens. Late in the morning of February 24 - we now know that Russian commandos were in Kiev at the time to capture the President - Zelenskyi appears in a small white room with random furniture. A few hours after the Russian attack that threatens to overtake his country, Zelenskyj finds time for Penn and his camera. This war, says a Ukrainian politician elsewhere in the film, will be decided on two fronts, the military and by influencing public opinion.
Sean Penn is not a reporter in "Superpower" but an activist who wants to promote the Ukrainian cause in the US. He hangs on his idol Zelensky's every word when he speaks of the freedom that Ukraine is defending for itself and for Western democracies. Perhaps Penn's admiration is due to the fact that here is someone from whom one can still freely and directly take the term "freedom" - in contrast to the "freedom" rhetoricians in Penn's home country, for whom the word is often only a synonym for American world power interests .
At the end, Penn and company take a minibus west to the Polish border. "Is there a gun in the car?" Penn asks. "No," replies the driver. Hanns Georg Rodek
When a 40-year-old hands a well-filled shot glass to an 18-year-old sitting in front of him like a fawn in front of a combine harvester, it's clear what he's up to. So the camera is on it. The young woman, her name is Maria, takes the glass and slowly sinks her gaze into it, as if ready to discern some truth at the bottom. But then, instead of drinking, she calmly lifts her head and looks up at the man with interest. At the same time, she puts the untouched hard liquor on the kitchen table as if in slow motion. I don't want any anesthesia at all, says this gesture, I don't need any disinhibition.
It is the strongest scene in Emily Atef's competition entry "Sometime we will tell each other everything" based on the novel of the same name by Daniela Kriens. Because it not only shows the fine, reduced play Marlene Burow (“In a country that no longer exists”), who has just started her acting training, is capable of. The scene also reveals the true power relations of this love affair. “Female Choice”, the female choice of male sexual partner that has probably been common for a few million years and has only been taboo for a few millennia, has something unsettling for a farmer like Henner (Felix Kramer). He has "a good hand for the horses", jokes in the neighborhood, "and for the women". He will still growl in Maria's ear in supposed early human archaism: "Now I caught you and dragged you into my cave". But she is the one who decides that he can rule over her. He is the prey.
In that muggy summer of 1990, on Henner's run-down farm in eastern Germany, not far from the inner-German border, the two "make love", as the novel says, rough, hard, brutal. The GDR will soon be history, the fields still want to be cultivated, and suddenly there is spray cream. Maria is actually with Johannes (a dear friend: Cedric Eich) and lives with him next door, in the attic of his parents' farm. While Johannes wants to become a photographer, is about to start studying art and his girlfriend soon only sees through the lens of the camera, she skips school, whose teachers have almost all fled to the West anyway, and reads “The Brothers Karamazov” in the overheated attic room. . Of course, nobody is allowed to find out about Maria's illegal border crossing, her violent union with Henner.
Anne Fabini's montage allows calm and abrupt outbursts to follow one another in an unpredictable manner, Armin Dierolf's camera, which coolly moves the bodies to the skin, makes a hand that pulls up a coarse cotton dress, a fist that rolls up a braid like a rope or a sandal that Being undressed is stretched out, nothing but small chamber plays of physics. The group scenes are weaker: when the three generations of the extended family turn the hay together, it becomes clear that these very modern, recreational sports bodies have not known this type of work, neither for hours nor for years. As in the book, some of the dialogue seems as if it was made with a text template, especially when the men in the parlor reflect on the upheavals: "Now money rules, the D-Mark". Even the dialect coloring seems undecided, they obviously wanted authenticity, but at the same time not too much of it.
It has been almost twelve years since Daniela Krien's debut novel was published. It was almost universally celebrated. Some found his language overly naïve and unadorned, but it was the powerful erotic scenes that garnered a lot of praise. Twelve years is a lot if you take into account the time before and after "MeToo" and factor in new insights and sensitivities in terms of abuse of power. Atef, who created unsentimentally haunting portraits of women in films such as “The Stranger Inside” or “3 Days in Quiberon”, wrote the screenplay together with the novelist. Both agreed that Maria should not be 16 as in the novel, but 18.
There were "concerns", explains Atef in the press release: "Of course there were! But in the end it was all about showing the story, internationally and in all its complexity. We wanted to avoid the danger of the film being reduced to the sexual relationship." They also planned Marlene Burow for the role early on, and she is so mature that you wouldn't buy a 16-year-old from her anyway. "In the end it was a compromise without artistic losses, that's why we made it," says Daniela Krien.
In the book, Maria, the intellectual, begins to cook for Henner, as the youngest miller's daughters do for old Bluebeards in the fairy tale, and she says she wants to bear children for him. Saving that into the film would probably have been a bigger taboo than sex scenes of a 16-year-old with a man more than twice her age.
It's tricky. Doesn't this concession to the spirit of the times even more focus on the sexual? On the other hand, what's wrong with that? It's a feature film, and it's about a passion between two misfits that ultimately comes at a price. The film envisions an unlikely couple as equals, with the man being the physically stronger but mentally the more vulnerable. There is a tenderness in reading Georg Trakl poems together, in which not only age and gender boundaries become fluid, but also those between body and mind.
Whether at that time or at any time the relationship between a 40-year-old and a 16- or 18-year-old was, is or can be equal, the film does not provide any classification, it claims nothing. Atef obviously doesn't want realism. She calls up the historical setting of the turning point only in order to turn the electrifying simultaneity of departure and decline into the atmospheric fire accelerator of this amour fou. And to make a young actress shine alongside a consistently spot-on cast, who shows how a woman can tell of entire epochs with just her breath and her eyes. Cosima Lutz
One of the secret Berlinale rules of habit is: the film that was shown in the morning screening at 9 a.m. almost always wins. Relatively often even one that was shown on Friday mornings at nine. Well, The Survival of Kindness was on at 9 this morning. Australia. A woman in an iron cage. Parked in the middle of the desert, under the hot sun. She can free herself. Wander towards Civilization. Find skeletons. Hits people infected with a virus. Beware of people with gas masks. Hardly anyone talks, and if they do, then in abstract language.
One constantly wonders what happened. What are the rules of this world. where the woman aspires. Rolf de Heer's film is endlessly fascinating because it shatters whatever assumptions you make up. It's a parable, sure, but we're going to be discussing what it means for two days now. Will she rise? This is how a competition at a big festival should be. And – don’t forget the Friday morning rule…. Hanns Georg Rodek
If an applausometer had been set up in the Berlinale Palace at the opening event of the 73rd film festival on Friday evening, the result would have been as follows in the first places. Third strongest: Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth, who emphasized the will to resist on the part of Ukrainian artists and that of opposition artists in Russia (the applause was clearly for the inclusion of the Russians).
Second strongest: President Volodymyr Zelenskyj, who gave one of his speeches from Kiev, tailored precisely to the respective audience by good speechwriters, here with a comparison of the early Berlinale (then frontline city in the Cold War and showcase of freedom) and today's Ukraine (today frontline in the war against Putin and outposts of western freedom).
The loudest applause and standing ovation was received by Golshifteh Farahani, Iranian film star in exile in Paris and member of the jury, who urged the audience to keep supporting the Iranian women's revolution.
The applause meter was a good gauge, not only of how this audience was feeling, but how this Berlinale will be feeling. Do galas, red carpets and disaster reports from everywhere go together? Brecht was quoted as wisely dictating that "even in dark times one sings, but one sings of dark times". In the run-up to the Berlinale, the Berlinale had almost desperately thought about how to deal with the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, you couldn't just stagger across the red carpet (which, by the way, was temporarily populated by two adhesives, see the entry at 8:11 p.m ).
Everything was discussed, from videos from the disaster area to a large donation; one euro from the sale of each card (which now costs 15 euros) would have gone to earthquake relief. Ultimately, it was a few concerned and committed words from Claudia Roth.
Sean Penn was also on stage. On February 23, the day before the outbreak of war, he was in Kiev with President Zelensky. His documentary "Superpower" runs on Friday evening. Hanns Georg Rodek
We have to think of Carlo Chatrian as a true humorist. We didn't necessarily think so either. But on the one hand it is of course a statement when Chatrian opens his first truly post-pandemic Berlinale on Weiberfastnacht of all days, when he leaves Ruben Östlund, one of this year's Oscar favorites, to a stand-up evening entitled "Seriously Funny: A Good Laugh With Ruben” (although Östlund's “Triangle of Sadness” is pretty much the opposite of a joke). And when he's happy that he and his co-director Mariette Rissenbeek managed to open his festival with Rebecca Miller's "irresistible comedy that builds on the everyday conflicts of western society". A "fantastic ode to freedom of expression" from a divided America to boot.
Of course, an ode like this is always chic. Right now. And laughing about the everyday conflicts of western society, without which there would probably be no film festival in the world (and no book fair and no documenta), is very necessary. There is generally not enough laughter. You actually laugh in "She came to me". However, if Western society has no other conflicts than those dealt with by Rebecca Miller (not for the first time, by the way) in her sixth film, then we can safely abandon ourselves to the carnival coma anywhere in the Catholic Western world or in the fine new ones and electrically adjustable leather armchairs of the Berlin Cinemaxx slide into a casual catatonia.
Steven Lauddem (Peter Dinklage) is a composer. He writes operas. His last was a sensation. Since then he has had a blockage. Marrying his therapist (which is about as legally barred as marriages between Walmart employees) might be an advantage, but it's not. Patricia is very beautiful because Anne Hathaway plays her. Steven affectionately calls her Doc. But of course she's got a lot of gossip - psychotherapists are just, according to the cliché, whose keyboard "She came to me" mastered as well as Steven his grand piano, in need of therapy. With a pious obsession, she keeps the Brooklyn home she inherited from mothers not just clean, but clean. Steven gives her pills for sadness. Sex is by appointment only. When Steven gets really cranky, she sends him out into the street with Levi, the pug dog. And then he stands there and doesn't know whether he should go to the right or to the left.
Now we have to throw something in for a moment. Rebecca Miller is a novelist, sculptor, painter, producer, actress and director. And because everyone always mentions it: She is also the daughter of the fabulous photographer Inge Morath and the playwright Arthur Miller. It is also often mentioned that she is married to Daniel Day-Lewis. Whether she leaves her house to the right or left probably has no consequences at all for quite a long time down the driveway.
It's different with Steven. Something else needs to be added here. Rebecca Miller is almost obsessively interested in what happens to someone who deviates from their daily routine, whether they then stumble into another life, what alternative lives live in a person. Apparently she doesn't believe in the legendary Flitwick episode from Dashiell Hammett's "Maltese Falcon". It's about an employee who almost got killed by a beam on his way to lunch and then decides to give up his previous existence. His wife lets him look for him. He will be found. He's leading, not too far away, the exact same life he was leading before the near miss.
Rebecca Miller, possibly because Catholicism, to which she came late, has done some damage to the crops, is different. Is sure that if you want it or if fate kicks your butt hard enough, you can change your life. All of her films and books are about that. "She came to me" is perhaps the most consistent derivation of it.
Back to Steven. From our perspective, it goes to the right. Levi's to blame. After the pug he strays through the streets of Brooklyn, where the ragged people live. Sunny's Bar is the name of the establishment where he ends up stranded (like everything else in this incredibly well-balanced story, the sun takes on an even deeper meaning later). Rebecca Miller's Dea ex Machina awaits from the other side of divided America. Her name is Katrina. Marisa Tomei plays her. Katrina has a massive sock shot after a romantic comedy overdose in her teens. Katrina is a tugboat captain. She - I'm sorry, it's like that - picks Steven up.
Now we must come briefly to the opera. Steven experiences – Catholics believe in something like that – namely an epiphany with Katrina, his blockade dissolves, and what feels like three days later an almost autofictional work is finished that has everything to confirm people's basic aversion to modern music theater. Bryce Dessner wrote Steven's music. He is a member of the rock band The National, he writes for the Kronos Quartet, the Frankfurt ensemble modern and the Labèque sisters. That doesn't make his two operas in Miller's film any more bearable, even if you consider them as meta as everything about this film.
Like almost everything. "She came to me" is a multiple redemption story. Not from the sins, but from the hindrances, the blockages. And an attempt at some kind of romantic comedy after the end of all romantic comedies. And a Romeo and Juliet paraphrase. On the other side of the split story, namely, the adult with the sockshot (there's also a puke-conservative court stenotypist who thinks he's a lawyer and acts out Civil War battles as a Southern bullshit leader), Miller puts the pure and sincere and authentic love between Tereza and Julian. He is Patricia's son. She the daughter of the manic shorthand and Magdalena. She – such a coincidence too – cleans for Steven and Patricia. You don't have to have seen a lot of RomComs to have an idea after half an hour where Katrina's tout and Rebecca's film are going to take you.
“She came to me” is of course the perfect opening film. Nothing stands in the way of what might follow him in the festival (conflicts, western world, freedom of speech). It leaves you quickly and without leaving any residue (if you disregard the trauma to halfway modern music theater that you inevitably carry away). You leave the cinema. Ask yourself at the exit whether to the right or left. But that doesn't matter at Potsdamer Platz anyway. The (urban) misery is everywhere. There are only tugboat captains again at the west port, and that is far away. Welcome to the 73rd Berlinale. Elmar Krekeler
The opening. Movie stars are the first to appear on the red carpet. Then two activists come and stick themselves. The "Last Generation" is here. The young man and the young woman are sitting on the edge of the red carpet. Video from the group showed the two activists scaling a barrier and running onto the red carpet, which was already empty. The guests were already in the room.
The opening film "She came to me" will be shown.
It wasn't the only protest. During the Berlinale, the situation of the people in Iran should also be remembered. Several women, including the actresses Melika Foroutan and Jasmin Tabatabai, held up a white banner on the red carpet with the slogan “Woman Life Freedom” on it.
The Italian Carlo Chatrian is the artistic director of the Berlinale. That is known. On the other hand, it is not easy to find out who their technical manager is. Maybe a person named Holger Schulz? On the festival website he is listed as Administration Manager. In any case, whoever is responsible for the accreditation system probably has German citizenship.
This is not supposed to be a special diss. In principle, it is a blessing not to have to stand in the long queue on the first floor of the Hyatt on Potsdamer Platz like in previous years and to frantically tick blue or orange slips of paper by the films that you can see at this or the next want to see day. When in doubt, whenever you needed it, the pen was gone, or after ten minutes you finally reached the counter with the friendly staff, who then informed you with sincere regret that the last tickets had just been sold. You just haven't gotten around to updating the front panel yet.
Oh yes, the blackboard. That was, so to speak, the announcement office of the punishing Berlinale god. As if Moses were receiving new messages every minute from Mount Sinai and had to cross out or add to the old commandments. Sometimes bids that have already been rejected are declared valid again. Hundreds of accredited journalists, cold sweat on their faces, ran back and forth between the queue and the board, graciously asking the man behind them to keep the space free, they just had to quickly check whether the film on the notice was actually still available. He was it! But only for the amateurs among the festival-goers was there a reason to breathe a sigh of relief. The others knew: it all depended on the insidious computers at the ticket counters; the analog board was possibly just not pasted accordingly.
In times of the pandemic, the long overdue digitization of ticketing was then completed. Now there is a separate sub-section of the Berlinale website where you have to secure your seats. You log in there with a different ID and password than in the "normal" area where you view the program and create favorites. Always at seven in the morning, just when you get home from the last party, tickets are activated for the day after next.
The new system was tested for the first time on Tuesday for the press screenings of the opening film "She Came To Me" by Rebecca Miller. After logging in – what was the password again? – found oneself on a page headed “Waiting Room”. A small digital man stepped in place in the middle of a red bar. "Due to the high demand, a login is not possible at the moment," it said soothingly. "When it's your turn, you have ten minutes to log in. We ask for patience."
You didn't dare to leave the computer, although a cup of coffee would have been nice. At pre-climate change glacial melt speeds, the male crawled forward. It was almost time for lunch when we finally got going. Three screenings were already fully booked, apparently by people queuing online in the middle of the night. It felt like 10 years ago when a new iPhone was introduced, or 25 years ago when a new Harry Potter was released.
The next day, Wednesday, when things really got going, so far from the Berlinale, which would only start on Thursday evening, but with the ticket booking, you were put to new tests, like in a computer game, that too familiarizes you with basic movement sequences before it throws the zombies, orcs or whatever at you.
Again the waiting room, again the red man, towards whom one now had almost friendly feelings - it was like seeing an old acquaintance again; the Berlinale now had something similar to a face, a little annoying little man walking in place. It's not as distinctive as, for example, the famous cartoon character La Linea with the big nose and dirty laugh, but that can still be. It is possibly a prototype.
Then, again after what felt like ages, the orcs came in the form of a lengthy movie list. Film after film was hastily packed into the so-called shopping cart. The threat of being thrown out again after ten minutes was emblazoned as a constant warning at the top of the page, a kind of memento mori from the film critic, too intoxicated with the success of having finally arrived. One could, one thought in panic, maybe save in between, i.e. book the already marked films. But would you then be thrown out again completely and would you have to queue at the end of the male queue? Better not to take chances.
So instead scroll as fast as you can, compare screening times, film length and cinema locations in ten open tabs. If you book a film that starts at 10 a.m. at the Cubix on Alexanderplatz and lasts two hours, you certainly won’t make it to the CinemaxX on Potsdamer Platz at 12:15 p.m. Instead of assisting the desperate journalist, the ticketing system laughs scornfully in your face. Could it perhaps be licensed to large corporations as a mixture of intelligence and stress resilience tests for managers?
That's just a little glimpse behind the scenes of the hard work of the critics. I could go on like this longer, but I think I should start getting back in line. Jan Kuveler