A man drives through the Australian desert in an old car, listens to a religious radio station, and lights a fag. The thriller "Limbo" tells the story of a police officer who is supposed to investigate the disappearance of an indigenous woman. The drug-addicted investigator is played by Simon Baker. You hardly recognize the actor, who is known for the series "The Mentalist" and the comedy "The Devil Wears Prada".
In "Limbo" you see him with short hair, a beard and glasses. The black and white film by director Ivan Sen is one of the 19 films in competition at the Berlinale. This Saturday, the jury will announce which films and achievements will be honored this time. Jury President Kristen Stewart and the other members have watched films for hours over the past few days.
Broken lives and toxic masculinity
A number of films in this year's competition question well-known images of masculinity and revolve around the topic of toxic masculinity. In the thriller "Manodrome", for example, Jesse Eisenberg joins a group of men who hate women, in the drama "Disco Boy" Franz Rogowski struggles with his service in the French Foreign Legion and in "Limbo" Baker advises others not to become like him in view of his broken life he himself.
These three films are of different quality, but the respective leading actors have a chance of winning an acting award. The Spaniard Patricia López Arnaiz as the mother of a transgender child in the sensitive coming-of-age drama "20,000 Species of Bees" and Vicky Krieps as the poet Ingeborg Bachmann in the German biopic "Ingeborg Bachmann - Reise in die Wüste" also have a chance.
The jury might have surprises in store
The Berlinale no longer distinguishes between genders when it comes to acting awards, but awards a Silver Bear for the best performance in a leading role and a supporting role. It is also conceivable that Sofia Otero, interpreter of the central child in "20,000 Species of Bees", will receive an award. That would be unusual, however, because such awards are very rarely given to children.
After the film screenings, there was a lot of discussion during the festival. What one likes, another finds terrible. The jury might surprise many. "20,000 Species of Bees" by director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren has a chance of winning the Golden Bear for its subtle examination of the complex issue of gender identity. The Australian anti-racism saga "The Survival of Kindness" and the drama "Disco Boy" by the Italian Giacomo Abbruzzese also deserved the award.
It would also be conceivable that the bulky Oedipus adaptation "Music" by Angela Schanelec will be awarded - for the courage to undermine all viewing habits. With its static shots, your film resembles a large painting.
The jury could well bow to the grand dame of German film, Margarethe von Trotta, with the director's prize and honor her for her film "Ingeborg Bachmann - Reise in die Wüste". For example, the Chinese family chronicle "The Shadowless Tower" by director Zhang Lu is eligible for the Grand Jury Prize.
It is also possible that the jury will be won over by the film "Le grand chariot" (translated "The Big Dipper"), with which the French director Philippe Garrel celebrates the art of puppetry in a very personal way. The film can be seen as an interesting commentary on the shift in generational and gender roles. The dominant father figure dies relatively soon and the adult children take over.