Film festival: The Berlinale 2023 also looks at crises

With the Berlinale, one of the largest film festivals in the world begins on Thursday.

Film festival: The Berlinale 2023 also looks at crises

With the Berlinale, one of the largest film festivals in the world begins on Thursday. The film "Superpower" shows that the war in Ukraine is becoming a central topic. Hollywood star Sean Penn met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for this. The project had been written about several times in the past year. Now the documentary is to celebrate its world premiere at the Berlinale.

Work on the film had already begun before the war began. "When directors Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman began filming Superpower in early 2021, a large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin seemed a distant threat," says the Berlinale program. Penn and Kaufman traveled to Ukraine to learn more about Zelenskyy.

When Russia then attacked Ukraine in February 2022, the two filmmakers were shooting in Kiev. During the Berlinale, the anniversary of the beginning of the war. Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) emphasized in the Bundestag's Culture Committee that it was important in her preliminary talks that it would not be a festival that isolated itself from what was going on in the world. "But that it reflects exactly what's going on in the world."

Video speech by Zelenskyj planned

At the opening of the Berlinale on February 16, according to current plans, Selenskyj is to have his say via video. A festival spokeswoman has not yet given any details. Selenskyj had already been switched on at the Golden Globes ceremony and the festivals in Venice and Cannes.

In addition to Ukraine, the situation in Iran is also said to play a role. The Berlinale shows around 280 films in around a week and a half. Of these, 19 productions are in the running for the Golden Bear, which is awarded to the best film. Five competition entries come from Germany. This includes the new film by Margarethe von Trotta: In "Ingeborg Bachmann - Reise in die Wüste" she deals with the author of the same name. Vicky Krieps ("Corsage") plays the leading role.

Also in the competition is "Eventually we will tell each other everything" by director Emily Atef, based on the novel by Daniela Krien. The book tells the story of a young woman's relationship with an older man on a farm. Christian Petzold is there with his new film "Red Sky", Angela Schanelec with "Music" and Christoph Hochhäusler with "Until the End of the Night".

Youngest jury president

The international jury decides which films ultimately win something in the competition. This time, the panel is led by US actress Kristen Stewart ("Spencer", "Twilight"). According to the Berlinale, at 32 she is the youngest jury president in the history of the festival.

Stewart will hold a press conference with the other jury members early in the morning on opening day. They then watch films for hours during the festival to decide who should get the Golden Bear. Last year, the drama "Alcarràs" about peach farmers in Spain was awarded best film.

The competition is only one part of the film festival. Cinema tickets for the public are also sold for the Berlinale: Before the pandemic, there were around 330,000 tickets. The industry comes together at the European Film Market. Many films and series are shown, guests give press conferences and interviews.

Boris Becker bis Steven Spielberg

The film "She Came to Me" will be shown at the opening, starring Peter Dinklage ("Game of Thrones"), Marisa Tomei ("Spider-Man") and Anne Hathaway ("The Devil Wears Prada"). The program also includes the film adaptation of "Sonne und Beton" based on the novel by Felix Lobrecht, Helen Mirren's new film "Golda" and "Sisi

A documentary about Boris Becker is also to be shown - the ex-tennis star is expected to premiere in Berlin. The documentary is called "Boom! Boom! The World vs. Boris Becker". Also on the program are a restored version of Disney's "Cinderella" and "Loriot's Great Animated Film Revue". The retrospective is dedicated to coming-of-age films. And for the first time this year at the Berlinale a series is to be awarded.

funding issues

The Berlin Film Festival is taking place for the 73rd time. The festival is financed by ticket sales, sponsorship and federal grants. The prices are also noticeable at the festival. Energy, technology service providers, catering - such things have become more expensive, as Managing Director Mariette Rissenbeek said a few weeks ago. The Berlinale is now getting additional money. In order for the festival to be possible “to the full extent” in 2023 as well, up to 2.2 million euros are to flow in addition to the standard funding of 10.7 million euros, as Minister of State for Culture Roth has announced

Last year, safety precautions were still in place due to the pandemic, which are now no longer applicable. The cinema halls will be fully occupied again. However, the Berlinale will continue to sell tickets online. An image that many are familiar with from the past will no longer exist: people waiting for hours in front of the counters with sleeping bags and teapots.