Politics and Food at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival

by Paz Mata February 14, 2018
The Berlinale Palast prepares for the 2018 Berlin Film Festival

getty images/matthias nareyek

The Berlinale Palast is getting ready to welcome scores of high-profile participants and screenings for the ten-day run of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, from February 15 to 25. The festival will open with the world premiere of Wes Anderson’s animated film Isle of Dogs. Anderson returns to the festival after winning the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize in 2014, for The Grand Budapest Hotel. “I’m most delighted that Wes Anderson will kick off the Berlinale Competition again. Isle of Dogs will be the first animated film to open the Festival – a film that will capture audiences’ hearts with its Wes Anderson charm,” says Festival Director Dieter Kosslick.

The International Jury, headed this year by German director, screenwriter, film composer, and producer Tom Tykwer, will have to deliberate over 19 titles to choose the winner of the top prizes, the Golden Bear and the Silver Bear.  Gus Van Sant's Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, David  and Nathan Zellner’s Damsel, Alex German Jr.’s Dovlatov, Benoit Jacquot’s Eva, and Laura Bispuri’s Figlia Me (Daughter of Mine), among others, are included in the competition slate that features a total of 24 films.

Two productions have also been selected for the Berlinale Special Gala, which screens recent works by contemporary filmmakers, as well as documentaries and works with unusual formats. The two Special Gala titles are Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop, starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy, and Das schweigende Klassenzimmer (The Silent Revolution) from Lars Kraume, which this year, for the first time, will be also presented to prison inmates as part of the festival efforts to show Berlinale films in penal institutions.

The Panorama section features a total of 47 films from 40 countries, with 37 world premieres and 16 directorial debuts. 20 films will be screened in the scope of Panorama Dokumente, while 27 fiction features are shown in Panorama Special as well as the main program.

The main program will open with River’s Edge, a psychodrama directed by Isao Yukisada. Meanwhile, Panorama Special will have a gripping start with Wolfgang Fischer’s nearly dialogue-free Styx.

Scenes from films at the 68th Berlin film Festival

The 2018 crop: (clockwise from top left) River's Edge, Isle of Dogs, The Silence of Others and The Bookshop.

courtesy berlinale

 

Panorama Dokumente will present, among others, the Czech production Až přijde válka (When the War Comes), by Jan Gebert, which focuses on the young Slovak paramilitary organization Slovenski Branci and the global trend of a socially acceptable form of nationalism. The Silence of Others, produced by Pedro Almodóvar, depicts the long overdue pursuit of those guilty of crimes perpetrated under the dictatorial Franco regime, while former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's impeachment can be witnessed first-hand in O processo (The Trial).

Selected from more than 2,000 submissions, this year a total of 65 full-length and short films from 39 production and co-production countries have been invited to compete in the Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus competitions. Highly contemporary, the selection showcases both cinematic developments and socio-political issues.

In the Homage section, the 2018 Berlinale chose American film and theatre actor Willem Dafoe for its Honorary Golden Bear in recognition of his body of work. Following the success of last year, the European Film Market will once again host the Berlinale Africa Hub at Gropius Park, giving African filmmakers a communication and networking forum to discuss changes in the African industry and to highlight the growth of a distinct film industry driven by local innovations and new technologies.

As usual, good food is on the Berlinale menu: with the theme “Life is Delicate",  the 12th Culinary Cinema section will present nine documentaries and feature films focusing on the relationship between food, culture, and politics. “When it comes to cultural and political matters, sensitive decisions have to be made all the time,” says Festival Director Dieter Kosslick. “It’s like in a kitchen, where it’s also tricky to make, at the very least, something edible and, at the very best, something delicate.”

Culinary Cinema will present three world premieres, in addition to an international and a German premiere. Following the screenings, top chefs Thomas Bühner, Sonja Frühsammer, Michael Kempf, Flynn McGarry, and The Duc Ngo will take turns serving menus inspired by the films at the Gropius Mirror Restaurant. At the same time, the Berlinale Street Food Market will once again provide festival visitors with international delicacies: In collaboration with the BITE CLUB, the Culinary Cinema will have five food trucks stationed at the heart of the festival, next to the Berlinale Palast.