With 268 separate titles playing over the 11 days of this year’s Berlinale, covering topics ranging from love & life to death & destruction, the line-up is a smorgasbord of sensual, striking, sexy, and (hopefully) superb cinema; a gut-bursting buffet of greatness, if you will. And with so much selection on offer, it’s understandable to feel a little overwhelmed. Well fear not, for not only will Culturefly be here throughout the festival to tell you what’s hot, and what’s not, we’ve also been good enough to draw up a list of the 10 tastiest treats playing at this year’s fest. These are our 10 unmissable picks, taken from a programme of unlimited possibilities.
1. Alone In Berlin (Dir. Vincent Perez)For those unfamiliar with the source, Vincent Perez’s big screen adaptation of Alone In Berlin, Hans Fallada’s unforgettable novel about one couple’s courageous fight against fear and fascism in Nazi Germany, is the perfect opportunity to discover why it became a publishing phenomenon.
2. War On Everyone (Dir. John Michael McDonagh)Leaving behind the grey hued panoramas of his native Ireland for the sun dried vistas of New Mexico, Calvary director John Michael McDonagh offers his own distinctive slant on America’s ongoing drugs war with this trenchant tale of corrupt cops and callous cartel enforcers; one thing’s for sure, there will be blood.
3. 24 Weeks (Dir. Anne Zohra Berrached)Starring renowned German actress Julia Jentsch, and directed by deft Deutsch-director Anne Zohra Berrached, 24 Weeks is the one to beat in this year’s Competition. Centred on a capable cabaret performer who learns her still unborn child will be severely disabled, much has been said about how Berrached can draw her drama with both heart-breaking honesty and a humorous humanity, meaning it’s all but guaranteed to be a favourite with the Berlinale jury.
4. Chi-Raq (Dir. Spike Lee)Finally receiving its international premiere, having opened to critical acclaim over in the States back in December, Spike Lee’s latest once more examines race relations and urban life, utilising the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago to craft a very modern adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.
5. Road to Istanbul (Dir. Rachid Bouchareb)Arguably one of the most important films screening in Berlin this February, festival favourite Rachid Bouchareb (London River, Days of Glory) again fictitiously tackles a timely topic with Road to Istanbul, following a Belgian mother who sets out to find and bring home her daughter who has left to join the jihad in Syria.
6. Curumim (Dir. Marcos Prado)There are a number of exciting documentaries debuting at this year’s Berlinale, but Marcos Prado’s probing into Marco “Curumim” Archer’s time on death row in Brazil promises to be particularly compelling, offering an intimate journey through the life of a bold but charismatic criminal who grew to regret his own choices.
7. The Commune (Dir. Thomas Vinterberg)Fresh off the back of his English language debut Far From The Madding Crowd, esteemed filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg returns to his native Denmark for this story of the clashes between personal desires, solidarity and tolerance that take place between a group of free-spirited adults living in a Danish commune during the 1970s.
8. Midnight Special (Dir. Jeff Nichols)Hoping to cement his reputation as a genre director with grit, Jeff Nichols brings us his unique interpretation of the Sci-Fi studio picture whilst once more exploring the deep-rooted theme of paternity with Midnight Special, which follows a father and son who go on the run after the dad learns his son possesses special powers.
9. Maggie’s Plan (Dir. Rebecca Miller)Returning to Berlin for the third time, writer/director Rebecca Miller turns her attentions towards the compulsions and constraints of pregnancy with the help of US indie darling Greta Gerwig in the eagerly anticipated Maggie’s Plan.
10. Uncle Howard (Dir. Aaron Brookner)Uncle Howard refers to Howard Brookner, an aspiring director whose work captured the cultural revolution of Downton NYC in the late 70s & early 80s. With testimony from friends including Madonna and Jim Jarmusch, this documentary follows Howard’s nephew Aaron, who embarks on personal journey 25 years later to discover his uncle’s films and the legacy of a life tragically cut short by AIDS.
The 66th Berlin International Film Festivals runs from Feb. 11th – Feb. 21st. For full details of this year’s programme, click here.