A Balancing Act at the Berlinale #73

The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival is the first fully in-person Berlinale event since 2020. 

Before the festival, Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek and Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian spoke about their objectives this year. Overcoming the impact of the pandemic and closer ties with the U.S. are two such challenges. Meanwhile, there has also been a funding boost from the German government. The pair also explained how their program selection attempts to balance harsh realities with escapism. 

The festival opened on February 16th with a grand red carpet ceremony. The television and stage show was produced by the German public broadcaster ZDF/3Sat. Their filming included the exterior red carpet, the hallway of the Berlinale Palast, and the theatre interiors. The ceremony started at 7.30pm local time. Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian were joined on stage by Jury President Kristen Stewart and further speakers.   

The Rebecca Miller directed She Came to Me was the special opening ceremony screening. A composer in a creative crisis meets a tugboat captain by chance in a Brooklyn Bar. From here a seemingly unlikely strong bond grows between the two. This funny and sophisticated comedy drama is set against a backdrop of a socially divided America. Peter Dinklage, Marisa Tomei and Anne Hathaway are the leading stars who shine in their roles. Ultimately, this was a heartening and entertaining way to begin the festival. 

Eighteen films from around the world will compete in competition for the Silver and Golden Bears. There are also sixteen films also in the second competition, Encounters. The program conspicuously omitted films from Russia this year. However, Sean Penn’s documentary Superpower represents the omnipresence of the Ukraine conflict. Otherwise, films like Honary Bear inductee Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans are intended to be a lighter affair. 

One film in the main competition, Blackberry, is adapted from the bestselling book “Losing the Signal”. Directed by Matt Johnson, it chronicles the rise and rapid fall of the world’s first Smartphone. Glenn Howerton and Jay Buruchel are the central characters who play the fallen business partners. Commendable in art direction is the authentic period detail from the early 1990s to the late 2000s. Moreover, Blackberry humorously portrays the world of fast-paced business, corruption, and the pressure of staying ahead

This year’s Berlinale Award Ceremony will take place on Saturday 25th February. 

By Steven Yates