How the Mighty Fall: Berlinale is No Longer an A-List Festival Anymore

Berlin Film Festival

This has been bothering me for the past few years, and it's finally time to get this off my chest. I have been attending the Berlin Film Festival (known as "Berlinale" locally) for 10 years, it's one of the oldest film festivals in the world, and I'm bummed out by how this fest has lost their way and . Berlinale is no longer an "A-list" festival, and should stop being considered one of "the most important film festivals in the world." They've lost that title. They've lost their relevance, they've lost their importance, and they need to wake up and realize this is happening instead of go on pretending nothing is different. The 2023 edition of Berlinale was its 73rd, the festival has been around for a long time, but that doesn't automatically make it A-list. Ever since they hired the most recent directors - executive director Mariette Rissenbeek & artistic director Carlo Chatrian starting with the 2020 edition - things have gotten much worse. The line-up has become extremely niche, more obscure, filled with mediocre-to-bad films (and a very limited selection of good ones), which is the key factor in their demise. If they wish to be relevant again, they need to completely rethink the festival.


 Posted on March 7 in Berlinale, Editorial | 2 Comments

Here's All the Trailers Available for Festival Films from Berlinale 2023

Berlinale 2023 Trailers

"Let go of all of that anger that's holding you back… from truly living your life." Good advice!! With the 2023 Berlin Film Festival wrapped up, it's time to look back and highlight a few of the films playing in the line-up. Below is a small but mighty collection of trailers currently out for films that premiered at this year's Berlinale - including Golden Bear winner Sur l'Adamant, the doc Hello Dankness about America, animated film The Siren, Norwegian drama Dancing Queen, Hungarian sci-fi White Plastic Sky, and plenty of others - a mix of documentaries and narrative features. Dive in and discover something that you've never heard of!! We already posted a few other trailers before the fest began: Seneca with John Malkovich, Christian Petzold's Afire, Korean film Kill Boksoon, The Echo (a terrific doc), and German film Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything. Aside from those, this trailer post features almost everything available to watch now - 26 trailers in total. Stay tuned for more updates throughout this year as the films are unveiled.

Berlinale 2023: Fest Highlight 'Femme' is Vividly Tense & Provocative

Femme Berlinale Review

Ending on a high note!! What a discovery – I hope this goes on to create conversations around the globe. My final screening of the 2023 Berlin Film Festival was this terrific film - Femme, co-written and co-directed by filmmakers Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping. It's one of the best films of the festival this year. It's also one of the only films (out of those the 22 I saw during the fest) that rightfully deserves to be called "innovative" – not necessarily for the filmmaking, mainly for the storytelling. Femme is an extraordinarily brave, compassionate, open-minded film crafted around a contemporary, thought-provoking narrative that had me on the edge of my seat. It rides an especially fine line between being extremely uncomfortable and tense, and also enticing and exciting in its tale of revenge and subversion. It not only kept me entertained, with the audience enjoying a few good laughs, but I'm still grappling with its plot and how ingeniously it's designed to make viewers ask – what is right, what is wrong, what is the right way to handle this dilemma?


 Posted on February 28 in Berlinale, Review | Comments

Berlinale 2023 Awards: French Doc 'Sur l'Adamant' Wins Golden Bear

Golden Bear Winner

The 73rd Berlin Film Festival (also known as Berlinale locally) has wrapped its 2023 run following two weeks of screenings, with a big ceremony again in Berlin on Saturday evening, announcing the winner of the Golden Bear (Goldener Bär) for Best Film. That top prize from this year was given to a French documentary titled Sur l'Adamant (or On the Adamant), about a mental health facility located in a boat on the Seine in Paris. The film is directed by a 72-year-old French doc filmmaker named Nicolas Philibert, winning his very first Golden Bear. It's an interesting pick, similar to when the doc Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) won in 2016. Once again, it seems like a political pick, not winning for artistry. The festival overall this year wasn't exactly very exciting, with a lot of bad films and a few good ones. I was expecting Celine Song's Past Lives to win following its Sundance premiere, and Petzold's latest film Afire is also quite good. The rest of the awards are rather lackluster, but not surprising for this fest. Read on for the full list of Berlinale 2023 winners below.


 Posted on February 26 in Awards, Berlinale, Movie News | Comments

Berlinale 2023: Japanese Thriller '#Manhole' Has Some Gnarly Twists

Manhole Review

The stuck-in-one-place subgenre of horror is packed with clever concepts and places to be stuck in (from a coffin to a sailboat). #Manhole is the latest entry in this subgenre and it truly is one of these films where, no matter what it is anyone thinks is going on before watching, no one will ever guess what the actual twist is until it arrives. The film is the latest feature from Japanese genre director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (also of Hole in the Sky, Green Mind Metal Bats, Freesia: Bullet Over Tears, Magic, Blazing Famiglia, Sketches of Kaitan City, Summer's End, My Man, Mukoku) and it opened in Japan just a few weeks before premiering at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival. The title is officially #Manhole with the hash symbol, which makes sense once the film gets going and the social media subplot kicks in. This quick festival review will be spoiler free, as I'd rather everyone go watch this film without knowing anything more before heading in. It is not a spoiler to say that there are twists, because of course, that's obvious & expected for a horror movie like this.


 Posted on February 25 in Berlinale, Horror, Review | Comments

Berlinale 2023: Celine Song's 'Past Lives' is a Lovely Look at Choices

Past Lives Review

It will always be a mystery trying to figure out where life will take us next. Even though we cannot see into the future, many dwell on their past and the choices they've made. It is an alluring thought process, usually tantalizing and stimulating. We can wonder what if over & over, and can make an important decision taking us down a different path today, but our lives will always continue from where they are right now. Playwright Celine Song's feature directorial debut is titled Past Lives, a beautiful, warm embrace of a film touching on these topics of choices & decisions. After first premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, it has gone on to screen at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival in the Main Competition section. Everyone seems to be falling in love with this film at both festivals, and it makes me so happy to observe. I first watched the film at its world premiere at Sundance, putting it on my Best of the Fest list, but I wanted to wait until my second viewing at Berlinale before writing down more of my thoughts on it. I can confirm it's just as wonderful a second time.


 Posted on February 24 in Berlinale, Review, Sundance 23 | Comments

Berlinale 2023: The Whimsical, Angry Ideology of Malkovich's 'Seneca'

Seneca Review

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage." As much as this may be the perfect kind of ridiculous film to dismiss and forget, I can't stop thinking about Seneca. Made by German filmmaker Robert Schwentke, who has been working in Hollywood for years (RED, R.I.P.D., Allegiant, Snake Eyes), he has returned to his roots to make something much more intelligent and so much angrier than his action blockbusters. It is an exceptionally wacky, weird, linguistically loquacious, intellectually stimulating, amusing, strange film that is just as indescribable as it is thought-provoking. I can already tell that most critics, actually most people at all who dare to watch this film, will hate it. It's heavy-handed and direct, especially at the end, which always upsets most people. Yet also so funky and, well, for lack of a better word – philosophical (because of course it is, considering it's about a famous philosopher) – that it just won't sit well with most viewers. Even if it is far from perfect, I can't help but want to talk about Seneca, and talk about why I find it fascinating anyway.


 Posted on February 21 in Berlinale, Review | Comments

Berlinale 2023: 'BlackBerry' is a Very Geeky Story of RIM's Rise & Fall

BlackBerry Review

Another story of nerdy kids who build some innovative technology that goes on to change the world – until it grows too big for them to handle and they lose control of it all. It's a pretty common story these days, and almost always makes for captivating entertainment, even if we already know what's going to happen. That's exactly the case with BlackBerry, a new Canadian film from director Matt Johnson which is premiering in the main competition at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival. It's a bit of an odd pick for this fest, but it's a good film nonetheless. It's not at all experimental or innovative, which is totally fine; it's a decidedly linear and straight-forward story about the guys who created the BlackBerry cell phone. It was invented by a group of very geeky Canadian men who ran a little company called Research in Motion (aka RIM). After taking on an aggressive co-CEO from the business world, things quickly took off, and the rest is history, etc. Another Icarus story about nerds – and one mega asshole businessman – flying too high once they achieved success.


 Posted on February 17 in Berlinale, Review | Comments

Festival Promo Trailer for 'The Echo' Mexican Town Documentary Film

The Echo Trailer

"Work is work, it's not easy." The Match Factory has released the festival promo trailer for a documentary film titled The Echo, originally known as El Eco. It is premiering this weekend at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, hence this first trailer out now. The Echo is the latest film from award-winning filmmaker Tatiana Huezo, whose previous film Prayers for the Stolen earned a number of accolades after first premiering at Cannes in 2021. In the remote village of "El Echo" that exists outside of time, the children care for the sheep and their elders. While the frost and drought punish the land, they learn to understand death, illness and love with each act, word and silence of their parents. A story about the echo of what clings to the soul, about the certainty of shelter provided by those around us, about rebellion and vertigo in the face of life. About growing up. I love the poster for this (seen below) and I'm hoping to catch it during the fest. Worth a look.

First Trailer for Emily Atef's 'Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything'

Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything Trailer

"He can have her one more time." The Match Factory has also unveiled a festival promo trailer for another new German film premiering soon at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival kicking off this week. Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything is the latest film from filmmaker Emily Atef, following her Cannes 2022 feature More Than Ever. Set in a warm summer in 1990 in former East Germany, it follows a young woman who begins a passionate sexual relationship with a charismatic farmer who is twice her age. That's pretty much the entire story here, as it plays itself out. The film stars Marlene Burow, Felix Kramer, Cedric Eich, Silke Bodenbender, and Florian Panzner. The fest adds: "Rarely has an adaptation of a vibrant literary text been able to create such energy, and even more rarely has it been able to revitalise virtues (in the truest sense of the word) which some might find old-fashioned. A film about charisma, naked bodies, the lack of willpower, and desire. An unadulterated, frank, and free-wheeling work that delivers an unexpected dose of German romanticism." Sounds (and looks) like an erotic drama – but is it anything more than that?

First Look Trailer for Christian Petzold's 'Afire' Premiering at Berlinale

Afire Trailer

"Why is she worried?" "Because of the forest fires." The Match Factory has revealed the first promo trailer for the German romantic drama Afire, the latest movie made by acclaimed German filmmaker Christian Petzold. He is best known for his films Jerichow, Barbara, Phoenix, Transit, and Undine previously, and his latest is also premiering at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival starting this week (hence the new trailer). Afire, also known as Roter Himmel (or Red Sky) in Germany, is about a group of friends staying at a holiday home by the Baltic Sea where emotions run high as the parched forest around them catches fire. It's obviously a love story about Paula Beer, as it seems every single guy in this trailer is madly in love with her. Natürlich. The main cast also includes Thomas Schubert, Langston Uibel, Enno Trebs, and Matthias Brandt. Another earnest romantic film about the power of love from Petzold. He's clearly got a thing for Paula Beer, she really is the center of this one. Is it a film about passion or is it about forest fires? Perhaps a bit of both?

Berlinale 2022: A Mysterious Night with Mark Rylance in 'The Outfit'

The Outfit Review

"Not every man in a suit and tie is a gentleman. Not every gentleman wears a suit and tie." But some still do… The Outfit is the first feature film directed by an up-and-coming writer and producer named Graham Moore, originally born in Chicago, Illinois. The film recently premiered as a Special Screening at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival and it's a clever, sneaky little mob thriller set in one location. It has this familiar "made during the pandemic" vibe, specifically that it's built around a very small cast and it all takes place in one location meaning they could make it in a small studio with a small crew and easily follow all the COVID-19 rules & regulations. But that doesn't take away from the thrill of the film, as it's a gripping tale of Chicago mobsters and one tailor who might just be smarter than all of them. If you've been watching movies over the last decade, you already know that any time Mark Rylance is in a film it's a must see – even if just for him.


 Posted on February 22 in Berlinale, Review | 1 Comment



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