The German festival which opens its doors on Thursday will notably welcome, out of competition, the Italian filmmaker Dario Argento with Occhiali neri, his first film in ten years.
The bear may be a bit thin, a bit short, but he intends to stand on his own feet in Berlin. In the flesh, rather than through new virtual interfaces. For his 72and edition, the Berlinale will try from Thursday to maintain its rank as a major festival on the European circuit in the cinemas of the German capital. The prestigious competition will be held face-to-face, but in a shortened format due to the current runaway Covid-19 epidemic in Germany.
In the midst of a wave of Omicron variant across the Rhine, the Berlinale had to partially lower the sails: the race for the Golden Bear will only last a week, until February 16, compared to ten days usual . Caution requires, festival-goers, even vaccinated, will be tested every 24 hours, while the rooms will be subject to gauges. Measures that in no way undermine the optimism of the organizers. “The collective experience is at the heart of a film festival”, underlined on this subject the artistic director of the Berlinale, Carlo Chatrian. A testimony to the firm desire to return to contact with the public, after a 2021 edition of the festival reduced to a trickle, to an ersatz Berlinale, due to its online relocation.
France well represented
This year, the feature film program would have been reduced by nearly 20 to 25% compared to a normal edition of the festival, according to figures from the organizers. First sacrificed? American Blockbusters. Any blockbuster interfered in the programming of the next Berlinale, whose 2022 edition will thus give more than ever pride of place to auteur cinema and avant-garde films. Only downside to the coin of choice: few big international stars will walk the red carpet in Berlin from next week.
Eighteen films, including seven signed by female directors, are in competition to succeed Romanian Radu Jude, who won the 2021 Golden Bear. Like Italian veteran Paolo Taviani, 90, with Leonora Addio, his first film since the death of his brother and lifelong sidekick, Vittorio. They had together won the Golden Bear ten years ago. Also in competition is the South Korean Hong Sang-soo or François Ozon, another festival regular who awarded him a Grand Jury Prize in 2019 for Thanks to God . The French director opens the competition with peter von kant, free proofreading by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
The presentation of the first feature film around the attacks of November 13 in Paris, centered on a story by a survivor of the Bataclan, will be particularly scrutinized. One year, one night is signed by the Spaniard Isaki Lacuesta, with the Argentinian Nahuel Perez Biscayart and the French Noémie Merlant. Filmmaker Claire Denis will be in competition for the first time, for a film co-written with author Christine Angot (With love and determination). In general, French cinema and actors (Juliette Binoche at Claire Denis, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Emmanuelle Beart at Mikhaël Hers, Isabelle Adjani at Ozon, etc.) will be well represented. French actress Isabelle Huppert will receive an Honorary Golden Bear for her entire career.
The expected return of Dario Argento
The prizes, including those for best performers, awarded since last year to an actor or an actress, will be awarded by a jury headed by one of the American masters of thriller, M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense, Unbreakable). At his side, the Japanese filmmaker Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, the Brazilian Karim Aïnouz or the Franco-Tunisian producer Saïd Ben Saïd.
Apart from the official competition, the Berlinale awaits the sulphurous king of giallo Italian Dario Argento for a new film Occhiali Neri (The dark glasses). The filmmaker, who hadn’t made a feature film since the disastrous Dracula 3D, once again leads her daughter Asia Argento there. Finally, the latest absurd comedy by Frenchman Quentin Dupieux, Incredible but true, will also be part of this reduced edition of the festival.
In a context of a totally dematerialized film market – and a lack of stars – the Berlinale will have a lot to do to prove its ability to hold its rank in a world calendar of very competitive major film festivals. The American Sundance festival had to resolve in January to a virtual edition. Chance of the calendar, Venice was luckier and was able to take place in September, ahead of the current epidemic wave. The Mostra has thus attracted major American productions to the Lido, including the Dunes by Denis Villeneuve. Cannes had shown the way in July by reconnecting with glitter, screenings on the Croisette and star parades. And the most prestigious of festivals is already preparing its next edition, back in May.