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Berlin Film Festival 2019

The Conversation

The Conversation: Bring Forth Berlin (Possible Contenders for the Competition)

The Conversation: Bring Forth Berlin (Possible Contenders for the Competition)

As has been the Berlinale’s custom of years past, several early competition titles have been confirmed along with the 2019 opener, Lone Scherfig’s The Kindness of Strangers, which will also be competing. On the homegrown front, its with great excitement to note Angela Schanelec’s I Was At Home, But… has been confirmed as has Fatih Akin with The Golden Glove while Quebec’s Denis Cote is returning again with Ghost Town Anthology.

With Panorama and other sidebars announced (which includes Jayro Bustamente’s sophomore title Tremors) we look forward to additional possibilities in the competition. Left out of 2018 platforms but purportedly screened for Vladimir Putin in private is Andrey Konchalovsky’s latest, Sin, which seems a logical place (though the Russian auteur hasn’t competed for the Lion since 1992’s The Inner Circle). And his cohort Pavel Lungin’s Esau is worth mentioning as a possibility. There’s another grand question mark besides Konchalovsky would be for Abdellatif Kechiche’s sequel Mektoub, My Love: Canto Due, as the first segment competed in Venice in 2017.

Other German potentials are Katrin Gebbe with her Nina Hoss headlined sophomore film Pelican Blood while Sebastian Schipper (who won a cinematography award for 2015’s Victoria) could debut Roads here. Doris Dorrie’s 2008 title Cherry Blossoms competed for the Bear, so her sequel Cherry Blossoms & Demons might appear in the program. There’s also Burhan Qurbani with his contemporary remake of Berlin Alexanderplatz (simply titled Alexanderplatz).

For France, we think Anne Fontaine could be on hand with her Isabelle Huppert led Pure as Snow. Also, Alice Winocour’s hotly anticipated Eva Green starrer Proxima might be an option. Andre Techine, who brought Being 17 to Berlin in 2016 has his Catherine Deneuve set Les Ennemis ready. Deneuve also headlines Cedric Kahn’s Happy Birthday, who was part of the 2018 competition with The Prayer (which won a Best Actor award). Also part of the 2018 lineup was Benoit Jacquot with Eva, and he might return with his Vincent Lindon starring Casanova. Meanwhile, Quentin Dupieux has his Jean Dujardin starrer Le Daim and Julie Delpy has the Gemma Arterton headlined My Zoe. And then Bertrand Blier has his first title in nearly a decade, Wide Load. Although perhaps not ready, Sylvain Chomet’s long-awaited The Thousand Miles might be worth mentioning. Some Gallic dark horses could be Olivier Laxe with A Sun That Never Sets and the Catherine Frot headlined T’exageres from Jose Alcala. And maybe finally Felix Moati with Deux fils. Already announced from France, Francois Ozon’s By the Grace of God as already been confirmed as a competitor.

Austria’s Marie Kreutzer has already been added to the comp with The Ground Beneath My Feet but Ulrich Seidl’s long-gestating Evil Games could be ready as the film is finally in post-production (he was last in Berlin with the final portion of his trilogy Paradise: Hope in 2013).

For Asian auteurs, Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa might be ready to bow his Kazakh set To the Ends of the Earth and China’s Lou Ye might be ready with his ambitious Saturday Fiction.

From Latin and South America, Chile’s Pablo Larrain’s Ema could bow for the Bear (where he was last seen in 2014 with The Club). Meanwhile, Venezuela’s Lorenzo Vigas, who took home the Golden Lion in Venice for his debut From Afar (2014) has the follow-up The Box on deck. A longer shot but a Berlin alum is Brazil’s Karim Ainouz, whose drama The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a potential. And Spain’s Alejandro Amenabar’s return to Spanish language filmmaking with As Long as the War Lasts is a possibility. We’re still waiting for a look at Agusti Villaronga’s Born a King, which might be ready for Berlin. And then Argentina’s Juan Jose Campanella has The Weasels. A good bet could be Spain’s Isabel Coixet has Elisa y Marcela, which would be her return to Berlin after opening the fest in 2015 with Nobody Wants the Night.

Italians might be low profile in this edition, but Pietro Marcello has Martin Eden (and he won the Teddy in 2009 for The Mouth of the Wolf).

While Emin Alper may have already taken the Turkish slot with the previously confirmed A Tale of Three Sisters, Zaza Urushadze (Oscar nominee for Tangerines in 2014) should be ready with Anton. Other outliers could be Iceland’s Grimur Hakonrason’s latest The County (following his celebrated 2015 title Rams, which has been remade in English starring Sam Neill), and Katrin Olfasdottir has her debut The Wind Blew On.

Poland’s Agnieszka Holland (who picked up the Alfred Bauer prize in 2017 for Spoor) has the English language Gareth Evans. Her fellow countryman Lech Majewski’s long-awaited Valley of the Gods is also still waiting to bow. Norway’s Hans Petter Moland (last in Berlin with 2014’s In Order of Disappearance, which he has also remade in English starring Liam Neeson) has Out Stealing Horses ready. Sweden’s Niels Arden Oplev has Daniel and Slovenia’s Mira Fornay has her long-gestating follow-up to My Dog Killer (presumably somewhere in a state of post-production), Cook, Fuck, Kill. And Bulgaria’s Teona Strugar Mitevska could break into the comp with God Exists, Her Name is Petrunja. From Romania there’s Catalin Mitulescu who has Heidi ready, while Tudor Cristian Jurgiu has completed And They May Still Be Alive Today. And then Lebanon’s Oualid Mouaness has the English language 1982.

From the UK, Sarah Gavron might be a great slot in Generation 14plus with Girl Untitled while Julian Jarrold has Sulphur and White and maybe, just maybe, Peter Greenaway’s long-awaited Walking to Paris could be on hand. And then the new urban omnibus installment Berlin, I Love You seems primed for a slot somewhere in the 2019 Berlinale program.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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