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The Berlin International Film Festival has unveiled the first films selected to run in the Panorama and Generation sidebars of its 2023 edition.
The lineups include films featuring Willem Dafoe, Alicia Silverstone and The White Lotus star Sydney Sweeney and a broad geographical range, with features from Ukraine, Yemen and Iran, among others.
Ira Sachs’ Passages, a Paris-set drama featuring Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulous and German actor Franz Rogowski, will have its European premiere in Berlin’s Panorama section, while the Jennifer Reeder-directed Perpetrator, described as a “bloody coming-of-age story” featuring Silverstone, Christopher Lowell and Kiah McKirnan, will have its world premiere bow in Berlin.
Another U.S. title heading to Berlin is Reality, the directorial debut of filmmaker Tina Satter featuring The White Lotus and Euphoria star Sweeney as NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, who received a five-year prison sentence for leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. It will have its world premiere in Panorama.
Frequent Berlinale attendee Dafoe returns to the chilly German capital with Inside from Greek director Vasilis Katsoupis, in which he plays an art thief who gets trapped in a swanky New York penthouse in the middle of a job.
Sacha Polak, director of 2019 Rotterdam Film Festival entry Dirty God, will be taking her follow-up, Silver Haze, to Panorama. The feature, which follows the story of a nurse from a rough East London neighborhood, stars Vicky Knight and Esmé Creed-Miles.
On the documentary side, the Ukrainian film Iron Butterflies from director Roman Liubyi, which will have its European premiere in Panorama, is certain to draw interest. The film looks at the shooting down by Russian-backed Ukraine separatists of Malaysian passenger jet MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The exposé promises to “lay bare the mechanisms of Russian warfare.”
Another outside-the-box doc in the 2023 Panorama lineup is Transfariana from director Joris Lachaise, which follows the love story between a trans ex-sex worker and a FARC guerrilla that begins in a Colombian prison and leads to an unexpected alliance between trans activists and FARC militants who have laid down their arms.
There are several Middle East-set features in the 2023 Panorama program, among them Amr Gamal’s The Burdened, a Yemen-Sudan-Saudi Arabian co-production, about a woman in the midst of the Yemen civil war who discovers she’s pregnant and decides, with her husband, to have an abortion; and the animated drama The Siren from director Sepideh Farsi, set in the oil metropolis of Abadan in Iran in 1980 in the wake of a catastrophic Iraqi missile strike.
In the Generations section for youth and children’s films, 2023 world premieres include Mexican-U.S. co-production Adolfo from director Sofía Auza; Jow Zhi Wei’s feature Tomorrow Is a Long Time, and the Belgium-Dutch film Sea Sparkle from Domien Huyghe. Jenna Hasse’s Swiss feature Longing for the World, about a friendship between two children and a local fisherman, and Zeno Graton’s debut The Lost Boys, a drama set in a youth correctional facility, will also get their first screenings in Berlin’s Generations.
Among the documentaries heading to Generations is Dreams’ Gate from Negin Ahmadi, which examines the director’s precarious attempt to travel to meet with the Kurdish women fighters battling in the war zone of North Syria.
Twilight and Clouds of Sils Maria star Kristen Stewart will head up the 2023 Berlinale competition jury, which will judge the films in Berlin’s main section. The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will also feature a homage to director Steven Spielberg, who will receive an honorary Golden Bear for his life’s work.
The 73rd Berlinale runs Feb. 16-26, 2023.
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