Illustration photo – Preparations for the Berlinale film festival on February 19, 2020.
Berlin – Only a few hours separate the German capital from the start of the Berlinale international film festival, which is one of the largest events of its kind in the world. This year, 19 films will compete for the Golden Bear statuette, which is the main prize of the film festival. There is no Czech film in the main competition category Competition, but Czech production is represented in the accompanying Encounters competition section. Czech production will not be missing in other categories either. The central theme of the festival, which will last until February 26, will be Ukraine, so the organizers want to draw attention to the fact that this country has been resisting the Russian invasion for almost a year.
The festival will start on Thursday with a ceremony in the Berlinale Palast hall, the American romantic comedy She Came to Me, directed by Rebecca Miller, has been chosen as the opening film. The film, which stars stars like Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, will also have its world premiere in Berlin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has joined the Venice and Cannes festivals in the past, is expected to address the guests via video bridge at the opening ceremony. Zelensky's digital performance, about which the organizers did not share any details, is a clear proof of the importance Berlinale has given to Ukraine and its struggle for freedom. Together with Ukraine, the Berlinale also wants to commemorate the democratic movement in Iran.
“The war in Ukraine and the protest movement in Iran are two areas of conflict that are very clearly about democracy and freedom of expression,” said festival executive director Mariette Rissenbeek. She added that Ukraine and Iran will have a central place at the film event.
In addition, Hollywood actor and director Sean Penn will present his documentary film about Ukraine Superpower (Superpower) at the Berlinale in its world premiere. Since the beginning of the invasion, Penn has visited Ukraine repeatedly to film a documentary about the Russian invasion and Ukrainian President Zelensky together with American Aaron Kaufman.
The Berlinale is the world's first major competitive film festival of the year. This year, 19 films are competing for the main prize, the Golden Bear. The organizers initially announced that there would be 18 competition films, but in the end they additionally included the animated film Art College 1994 by the Chinese director Liu Jian in the competition section.
The competition section includes, among others, the films Disco Boy by the Italian director Giacomo Abbruzzese, Irgendwann werden wir uns alles erzählen (One day we will tell each other everything) by the German director Emily Atefová or Manodrome by the South African director John Trengov. The winner will be announced at the end of the festival, but it is already known that this year American director Steven Spielberg will win the Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement.
During last year's Berlinale, 18 films applied for the Golden Bear. winner of the Spanish-Italian drama Alcarrás by Spanish director Carla Simón. A Czech film was missing from the main section last year, just like this year.
But the Czech production will not be missing at the Berlinale, although it is not in the main section. In the accompanying competition, which is called Encounters, there is a full-length documentary Eastern Front created by Vitaly Manský and Jevhen Titarenko. The co-production of Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and the United States was supported by the Stání cinematography fund in the amount of 2.3 million crowns. The director and at the same time the main character of the documentary, Jevhen, who already went to Crimea as a war documentarian in 2014, volunteered with his friends to the medical battalion at the front in February 2022. The film captures their experiences during the first six months of the war, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The festival also selected the film Notes from Eremocén directed by Viera Čákanyová. The Slovak-Czech co-production is an experimental full-length documentary, an audiovisual postcard that the author sends to the future. The image combines the diary entries of a classic film and images from a 3D scanner. The film will be presented by the Forum section.
The short animated film Deniska died by director and Prague FAMU student Phillip Kastner was included in the Generation Kplus section of the festival, which presents the world premiere of the best feature films and short films for children. The film tells the story of the loss of a beloved pet and how it is possible to cope with the painful experience.
The retrospective section of the festival will present a digitally restored version of the film Daisies from 1966, which is one of Věra Chytilová's directorial highlights. Thanks to this, the biting statement about conformism, petty-bourgeois narrow-mindedness and the limits of carelessness has timeless qualities.
The film festival is returning to normal in Berlin after two years of pandemic restrictions. Masks are only recommended, they are no longer mandatory. For the first time since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, the festival will also be able to use the full capacity of cinemas. But even a larger attendance would not be able to cover the costs of organizing the event, which relies on sponsors and subsidies in addition to ticket income, at a time of general price increases and high energy costs. State Minister for Culture and Media Claudia Roth said that the festival will receive up to 2.2 million euros (52 million CZK) in addition to regular support of 10.7 million euros (253 million CZK).
Due to due to higher costs, the festival made screening tickets more expensive, which usually cost 15 euros (CZK 355). Last year, they started at 13 euros (308 CZK). Since the days of pandemic restrictions, the organizers have preserved the online purchase of tickets, spending the night in sleeping bags and waiting in queues for hours before the start of ticket sales are a thing of the past in Berlin.