The 2022 Berlin Film Festival unveils its full line-up
The Berlin Film Festival has announced the full lineup for its 72nd event, with new films from authors Claire Denis, Andrew Dominik and François Ozon among the highlights. In what has clearly been an extremely difficult time for filmmakers and festivals due to Covid-19, Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian noted that “many films have responded with the power of the imagination”. Only two are set in the pandemic era; none of them – fortunately – relate to the virus.
Already it had been announced that with the Omicron variant sweeping Europe and beyond, the Berlinale would operate at reduced capacity, with cinemas unable to be more than 50% full and the festival running four days less than its 11 usual days.
But while the overall selection is 20% smaller than usual, that hasn’t drastically reduced the main competition, which has 18 films on the bill. All but one are world premieres, with five of the directors also being former Gold or Silver Bear winners.
Titles of interest to Middle Eastern moviegoers will include See you Friday, Robinson, a documentary presented in the Encounters section. This non-fiction experience is co-produced by Lebanese producer Georges Schoucair through his company Shortcut Films and is directed by Iranian filmmaker and painter Mitra Farahani.
The focus is on a conversation between famous French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard – now 90 – and Iranian filmmaker and literary man Ebrahim Golestan, which took the form of weekly emails. Godard will also have a strong presence at the festival, with an exhibition dedicated to him and a restored version of his 2004 film Our music.
In the Forum section, the more experimental part of the festival, which this year includes 27 films, Mohammad Shawky Hassan. a filmmaker who lives in Cairo, will present Should I compare you to a summer day? Intriguingly described as a metafictional audiovisual essay, this co-production between Egypt, Lebanon and Germany is meant to explore “romantic encounters, haunting memories, pop music and folk tales” in Arab culture.
The Special Forum component also programmed Beirut the Meeting, Borhane Alaouie’s 1981 feature that feels as relevant today as it did 41 years ago. In what will be a rare opportunity to see the film on the big screen, this adaptation of the screenplay by Ahmed Beydoun stars Nadine Acoury as Zeina, a young woman who plans to leave Beirut for America, unsure whether she will come back one day. The day before she leaves, she and her former college lover record their innermost feelings to exchange at the airport.
Receiving its world premiere in the Panorama section is an Israeli film Concerned citizen by director Idan Haguel. Starring Ariel Wolf and Shlomi Bertonov, this story set in Tel Aviv deals with prejudice in a local neighborhood after a conflict erupts over something as innocent as a newly planted tree. Haguel is no newbie to the festival, with his 70-minute work Inertia play in the Forum in 2016.
In the Berlinale Special, Israeli documentary 1341 Love and War Frames will also be disclosed. Directed by Ran Tal, this non-fiction film tells the story of Israel’s most famous war photographer, Micha Bar-Am. Moving from Berlin in 1930 to Palestine in 1936 and beyond, Tal follows Bar-Am on a journey of self-doubt through the ages.
As always, the festival has returning favorites and will open with François Ozon, hot on the heels of its entry into Cannes 2021 Everything went well. His last effort, Peter Von Kant, with Denis Menochet and Isabelle Adjani, is a cover of Rainer Werner Fassbinder The bitter tears of Petra von Kant – but changing the gender of the main character. This is Ozon’s sixth appearance at the Berlinale; his first was with Water drops on burning rocks in 2000 – another Fassbinder adaptation.
The French filmmaker of Ozon, Claire Denis, will make her first appearance in the Berlin Competition, somewhat surprisingly, with Both sides of the blade, a love triangle drama that reunited her with the incomparable Juliette Binoche as well as Vincent Lindon, who just starred in the Cannes-winning film Titanium.
The competition selection will also premiere the film by Phyllis Nagy Call Jane. Nagy, who has already been nominated for an Oscar for her work on Todd Haynes’ screenplay Carol, has only one other directorial credit to her name: the 2005 TV movie Mrs Harris. This latest film stars Elizabeth Banks as a married woman who must deal with an unwanted pregnancy at a time when it is nearly impossible to find a legal abortion.
Italian moviegoers will also be curious to see Leonora Addio by veteran filmmaker Paolo Taviani. It’s his first film released since the death of his filmmaker brother Vittorio Taviani in 2018 – and marks a return to the Berlinale, where he and his brother won the Golden Bear for 2012 Caesar must die. This latest film centers on three surreal funerals and the murder of a young Sicilian boy in Brooklyn.
Among key selections away from the main competition, the British effort Good luck to you, Leo Grande will see Emma Thompson return to Berlin. The Oscar-winning actress was last at the fest for 2016’s WW2 drama Alone in Berlin. Here she is back for a contemporary comedy, directed by Sophie Hyde, in which she plays a widowed retired teacher who sets out in her twilight years to find an adventure – focusing on a gigolo named Leo Grande.
Another Oscar winner, Mark Rylance, will portray Graham Moore’s drama The clothe, in which he plays a former Savile Row tailor who finds himself in Chicago making suits for a family of gangsters. Moore, who co-wrote the screenplay, marks his feature debut with the film, seven years after winning Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars for his drama about Enigma code cracker Alan Turing. The imitation game.
Australian director Andrew Dominik (Chopper, Killing them softly) is also back with what i know to be true. While he continues to put the finishing touches on his long-awaited Marilyn Monroe biopic Blond, he also filmed musician Nick Cave during confinement, with a documentary that looks at the last two studio albums by Cave and Warren Ellis, Phantom and Carnage. This is Dominik’s second Cave film after the poignant 2016 effort. Once again with feeling – undoubtedly one of the essential films of the festival.
The 72nd Berlin Film Festival runs from February 10-16
Updated: January 19, 2022, 4:15 p.m.