Film festivals are among the many events that have had to reconfigure their dynamics as the worldwide pandemic vies to outdo the Energizer Bunny in the endurance department; some have fared better than others in that regard and the vaunted Berlin Film Festival – celebrating its 71st anniversary – has managed to pivot and roll with extraordinary circumstances to continue to bring forth a bounty of new and intriguing films to cinema buffs everywhere. In a striking example of forging ahead and continuing with tradition in the face of a bad Michael Bay movie come to stark and all-too real life, The Hollywood Reporter announced today the first films that the Berlin Film Festival will premiere in its Generation and Retrospective sidebars.
The Berlin Generation section is unique from many other film festivals in that it specializes in featuring films that cater to a younger demographic (i.e. children and so-called “youth audiences”). This year the Generation section will focus on eight global premieres along with a total of six debut films. Among those first-timers are director Han Shuai’s Summer Blur, Danish documentary From the Wild Sea and Short Vacation, a Korean drama from directing duo Kwon Min-pyo and Seo Hansol.
Taking the spotlight and having a genuine moment in all of this during the Berlin Film Festival is Dash Shaw’s animation feature Cryptozoo which made a huge splash at the Sundance Film Festival and other notables such as Norway’s entry Ninjababy, Ukraine dramatic piece Stop-Zemlia and Canadian/Bosnian flick The White Fortress.
It is worth noting that a grand total of sixty percent of the movies premiering in the Generations section this year were directed by women, representing a real uptick for diversity from previous years at the Festival.
Generations head honcho Maryanne Redpath said that “The fifteen films in this year’s selection are an open invitation to go beyond the obvious, the dominant, and the loud and to take a closer look at what’s beneath the surface. The films offer a break to life as we know it right now.” Amen and pass the Prozac.
The Retrospective section of the Berlin Film Festival is the real treat for lovers of the history of cinema: The festival is on target to screen a grand total of twenty seven comedies that showcase the talents of Hollywood legends like Mae West, Carole Lombard and Rosalind Russell. West’s film debut in the 1932 flick Night After Night will be screened as will her ’33 calling card film I’m No Angel. The incandescent Carole Lombard meanwhile will get her propers with showings of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, No Man of Her Own and Twentieth Century. Meanwhile, Rosalind Russell will shine once again in classic films His Girl Friday, Design for Scandal and Four’s a Crowd.
As a result of COVID-19, the Berlin Film Festival this year will be divided into two distinct stages: From March 1-5 the Festival will conduct an online-only event which is designed mainly for the international industry. An in-person festival in the heart of the German capital is planned for June 9-20, 2021.
As the world continues to resemble something from a bad acid trip I took in my early twenties, it’s at least comforting to know that some efforts are being taken to keep so-called normalcy in the spotlight in safe and effective ways. Stay tuned for future news on the Berlin Film Festival!