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The Berlinale announces its Competition and Encounters titles, plus Ukraine- and Iran-focused solidarity initiatives


- The Berlinale Special section will host the world premiere of Superpower, Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman’s documentary shot over the last year in Ukraine

The Berlinale announces its Competition and Encounters titles, plus Ukraine- and Iran-focused solidarity initiatives
Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert by Margarethe von Trotta (© Wolfgang Ennenbach)

The Berlinale (16-26 February) has finally announced the full line-ups of its Competition and Encounters strands, along with several Iranian- and Ukrainian-focused solidarity initiatives.

According to the official press release, this year’s main competition “aims to be as open as possible to all cinematic forms”. The 18 titles from 19 countries competing for the Golden and Silver Bears include “animated films and documentary, comedy and melodrama, dramas and period films, movies that rely on great performances or are driven by ‘natural’ actors”.

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As usual, the line-up showcases a number of European titles. Margarethe von Trotta’s Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert (Germany/Switzerland/Austria/Luxembourg) focuses on the titular Austrian author (1926-1973), played by Vicky Krieps (Corsage [+see also:
film review
interview: Marie Kreutzer
interview: Marie Kreutzer
film profile
), and her turbulent life. Meanwhile, Christian Petzold will be making a return to the Berlinale with Afire (Germany). Starring Thomas Schubert, Paula Beer, Langston Uibel, Enno Trebs and Matthias Brandt, it takes place in a small holiday house by the Baltic Sea and centres on four young people coming together. As the parched forests around them begin to ignite, so too do their emotions.

In Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything (Germany), Emily Atef will tell a story set in the countryside of Thuringia, East Germany, during the summer of 1990. In it, Maria is about to turn 19, lives with her boyfriend Johannes on his parents’ farm and would rather lose herself in books than focus on graduating. There is a sense of a new era dawning with the German reunification, when she bumps into Henner, the farmer next door. One touch is all it takes to ignite an all-consuming passion between Maria and the headstrong, charismatic man twice her age. The cast is led by Marlene Burow, Felix Kramer and Cedric Eich.

Other buzzy European productions include Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren’s 20,000 Species of Bees (Spain), Philippe Garrel’s The Plough (France/Switzerland) and Nicolas Philibert’s On the Adamant (France/Japan).

Speaking about this year’s Encounters line-up, artistic director Carlo Chatrian said: “Sixteen titles and as many ways to articulate a collective narrative that embraces the present, witnesses the past and imagines the future. Perhaps the political dimension is more present than usual, but it is less about reproducing a chronicle than about questioning the past through a multitude of viewpoints and posing questions, so that audiences can expand their own worldviews.” Among the most highly anticipated European productions are Bas Devos’s Here (Belgium), Tia Kouvo’s Family Time (Finland/Sweden) and Mehran Tamadon’s My Worst Enemy (France/Switzerland).

The Berlinale also reaffirmed its support for Ukraine and Iran. “Like numerous cultural institutions worldwide, the Berlinale has expressed its solidarity with Ukraine and Iran. This is evident within the 2023 Berlinale in the sections and initiatives in the film selection and with various events – in part with cooperation partners,” states the official press release. You can find out more here. Further initiatives will be announced on 7 February.

The festival has also announced that the Berlinale Special section will host the world premiere of Superpower (USA), Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman’s documentary shot over the last year in Ukraine.

As previously announced (see the news), the gathering will be opened by Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me (USA). The feature will screen out of competition as a Berlinale Special Gala at the Berlinale Palast.

Here is the full list of the Berlinale titles announced today:


20,000 Species of Bees Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren (Spain)
The Shadowless Tower Zhang Lu (China)
Till the End of the Night Christoph Hochhäusler (Germany)
BlackBerry Matt Johnson (Canada)
Disco Boy Giacomo Abbruzzese (France/Italy/Poland/Belgium)
The Plough Philippe Garrel (France/Switzerland)
Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert Margarethe von Trotta (Germany/Switzerland/Austria/Luxembourg)
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything Emily Atef (Germany)
Limbo Ivan Sen (Australia)
Bad Living João Canijo (Portugal/France)
Manodrome John Trengove (USA)
Music Angela Schanelec (Germany/France/Serbia)
Past Lives Celine Song (USA)
Afire Christian Petzold (Germany)
On the Adamant [+see also:
film profile
Nicolas Philibert (France/Japan)
The Survival of Kindness Rolf de Heer (Australia)
Suzume Makoto Shinkai (Japan)
Tótem Lila Avilés (Mexico/Denmark/France)


The Klezmer Project – Leandro Koch, Paloma Schachmann (Argentina/Austria)
The Adults – Dustin Guy Defa (USA)
The Echo – Tatiana Huezo (Mexico/Germany)
Here Bas Devos (Belgium)
In the Blind Spot – Ayşe Polat (Germany)
The Cage Is Looking for a Bird – Malika Musaeva (France/Russia)
My Worst Enemy – Mehran Tamadon (France/Switzerland)
White Plastic Sky – Tibor Bánóczki, Sarolta Szabó (Hungary/Slovakia)
in water – Hong Sangsoo (South Korea)
Family Time – Tia Kouvo (Finland/Sweden)
The Walls of Bergamo – Stefano Savona (Italy)
Orlando, My Political Biography – Paul B Preciado (France)
Samsara – Lois Patiño (Spain)
Eastern Front – Vitaly Mansky, Yevhen Titarenko (Latvia/Czech Republic/Ukraine/USA)
Living Bad – João Canijo (Portugal/France)
Absence – Wu Lang (China)

Berlinale Special

Superpower Sean Penn, Aaron Kaufman (USA)
Love to Love You, Donna Summer - Roger Ross Williams, Brooklyn Sudano (USA)
100 Years of Disney Animation – a Shorts Celebration - Walt Disney, Dave Hand, Ben Sharpsteen, Lauren Jackson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Hannah, Jon Kahrs, Brian Menz, Jacob Frey, Hillary Bradfield (USA) (1922 - 2022)

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