Back-to-Back Festivals - Kicking Off Berlinale Weeks After Sundance
by Alex Billington
February 8, 2017
From the very snowy streets of Park City, to the freezing streets of Berlin. Kicking off this week is the 67th Berlin Film Festival, better known as Berlinale. This is my 4th year in a row covering the Berlin Film Festival, this time as a local resident of Berlin, but it's still just as exciting. Taking place only two weeks after Sundance, this picks up where that left off and continues the enthusiasm and excitement for new cinema by offering a fine selection of European films. This year's biggest world premiere is perhaps James Mangold's Logan, at the very end of the festival, though there are plenty of other films showing over the next 10 days. I may not be recovered from Sundance yet, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited to jump into another fest.
I've written before about going to two festivals back-to-back and how exhausting it is, especially to watch films for all 10 days at both fests (I already saw 34 films at Sundance). But of course, I can't help it and I'm honestly rejuvenated by the excitement of seeing great films. As a preview for Berlinale 2017, I'll get into some of my most anticipated films below. This festival is one of the unique ones where it's hard to figure out what is going to be good before - I prefer to just jump in and start screening and see if anything completely surprises me. There's always at least one or two big films that get a ton of buzz at this festival (e.g. Fire at Sea, or Victoria in recent years) and there's always a few hidden gems worth searching for in the selection.
What are my most anticipated films to watch at Berlinale 2017? Aside from James Mangold's Logan, and Danny Boyle's T2: Trainspotting. I'm also looking forward to watching: Etienne Comar's Django, Jakob Lass' Tiger Girl, Josef Hader's Wild Mouse, Thomas Arslan's Bright Nights, Sally Potter's The Party, James Gray's The Lost City of Z (which I didn't get to see at the NYFF), Stanley Tucci's Final Portrait, Volker Schlöndorff's Return to Montauk, Kitty Green's doc Casting JonBenet (which I didn't see at Sundance), Aki Kaurismäki's The Other Side of Hope + Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß's My Happy Family. I'm also very much looking forward to seeing Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name for a second time - it was my #1 film of Sundance and it's playing at Berlinale and I'm planning to catch it again.
Follow my coverage of Berlinale here on FirstShowing or on Twitter @firstshowing or view my photos on Instagram @abillington and stay tuned for reviews, blog updates, photos and more from the festival. I'm a big fan of Berlinale, it's an ambitious festival that is run by smart, passionate cinephiles who just want everyone to experience the best that cinema has to offer from some of the finest filmmakers working today. Berlinale takes place in the heart of Berlin - overtaking Potsdamer Platz, with premieres all day for 10 days. Public tickets can be purchase on the website or at ticket offices around the city. You can find the full list of films playing in the 2017 programme, or follow along for updates from the festival over the next two weeks.
One last thing to mention - this year's Berlinale Retrospective theme is science fiction, my favorite genre. They're showing SO many classic sci-fi films it's almost overwhelming. You could spend the entire fest just watching these. Some of the films screening at Berlinale 2017: THX 1138, Alien, Blade Runner, Dark City, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Fifth Element, Soylent Green, Ghost in the Shell, Strange Days, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, and Michael Radford's 1984. I'm trying to catch a few inbetween the new films, since these are some of my favorites. Love me some sci-fi. See you at the cinema.