Berlin Film Festival Unveils First Films



The 71st Berlinale unveils the lineup for its Generation and Retrospective sidebars.

The Berlin Film Festival has announced the first group of films for its 71st edition, unveiling the official lineups for its Retrospective and Generation sections on Monday.

Berlin's Generation section of films targeting children and youth audiences, features eight world premieres and six debut features, with first-time entries including Summer Blur from Chinese director Han Shuai, the Korean drama Short Vacation from directors Kwon Min-pyo and Seo Hansol, and the Danish documentary From the Wild Sea by Robin Petré. 

Among the highlights this year are Dash Shaw's animated Sundance hit Cryptozoo, and the world premieres of such titles as Ninjababy from Norway's Yngvild Sve Flikke, Kateryna Gornostai's Ukraine drama Stop-Zemlia, and The White Fortress, a Canadian/Bosnian co-production from director Igor Drljaca. 

Notably, a majority of the Generation films — fully 60 percent — were directed by women, as were 75 percent of the titles in Kplus competition. 

"The 15 films in this year’s Generation 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," said Generation section head Maryanne Redpath. "The films offer a break to life as we know it right now."

For this year's Retrospective, Berlin is focusing on films made during the strict morality rules of the Motion Picture Production Code, dubbed the Hays Code, which was officially adopted in 1930 and increasingly enforced after 1934.

The festival will screen 27 comedies featuring American actresses Mae West, Rosalind Russell, and Carole Lombard. Although the Hays Code prohibited explicit depictions of sex and promiscuity, as well as the use of profanity, these three starlets found ways to subtly subvert the rules. In doing so, they launched the heyday of the screwball comedy.

Among the films in the Berlinale 2021 Retrospective are Mae West’s debut Night After Night (1932) and her 1933 classic I'm No Angel, co-starring Cary Grant; Carole Lombard's No Man of Her Own (1932), Twentieth Century (1934), and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941); and such Rosalind Russell favorites as Four’s a Crowd (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), and Design for Scandal (1941).

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Berlin 2021 will be split into two stages. From March 1 through March 5, the festival will hold an online-only event mainly for the international industry.

The European Film Market will also go virtual, following a model established last year by the likes of Cannes and the American Film Market in Santa Monica. An in-person festival in the German capital, with red-carpet screenings and gala events, is planned for June 9-June 20.

Judging this year's competition will be a six-person jury made up of former winners of the Berlinale's Golden Bear for best film.  They include Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, last year's winner for There Is No Evil; Nadav Lapid from Israel, whose Synonyms won top honors in 2019; Romanian filmmaker Adina Pintilie, director of controversial 2018 winner Touch Me Not; Hungary's Ildiko Enyedi, Golden Bear winner for On Body and Soul (2017); Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, whose refugee documentary Fire at Sea took Berlin's top prize in 2016; and Bosnia director Jasmila Zbanic, winner for Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams in 2006.

Berlin is one of many film festivals improvising this year amid the second wave of COVID-19 which has led to lockdown measures across much of the world. Sundance 2021 was a largely virtual affair, as was this year's Göteborg Film Festival, Scandinavia's largest, which wrapped last week.

Cannes, which had to cancel its 2020 event because of coronavirus, has already pushed back this year's festival, which is now scheduled for July, from its initial dates in May.

Rotterdam, one of the most important events for the international independent scene, has taken the Berlin route and split its festival in two, holding a virtual fest for the industry in February, and an in-person event set for early summer.

The Berlinale was the last major European festival to be held before the continent went into COVID-19 lockdown in early March.

Here are the first films unveiled for the festival:

2021 Generation Kplus 

Beans (Canada), dir. Tracey Deer

Any Day Now (Finland), dir. Hamy Ramezan

Summer Blur (China), dir. Han Shuai

Short Vacation (Korea), dirs. Kwon Min-pyo, Seo Hansol

Last Days at Sea (Philippines / Taiwan), dir. Venice Atienza

Mission Ulja Funk (Germany / Luxemburg / Poland), dir. Barbara Kronenberg

Nelly Rapp – Monster Agent (Sweden), dir. Amanda Adolfsson

A School in Cerro Hueso (Argentina), dir. Betania Cappato

Generation 14plus

Cryptozoo (USA), dir. Dash Shaw

Fighter (Korea), dir. Jero Yun

From the Wild Sea (Denmark), dir. Robin Petré

The Fam (Switzerland), dir. Fred Baillif

Ninjababy (Norway), dir. Yngvild Sve Flikke

Stop-Zemlia (Ukraine), dir. Kateryna Gornostai

The White Fortress (Canada / Bosnia and Herzegovina), dir. Igor Drljaca

Berlinale Retrospective (in chronological order)

Night After Night (1932), dir. Archie Mayo

No Man of Her Own (1932), dir. Wesley Ruggles

I’m No Angel (1933), dir. Wesley Ruggles

She Done Him Wrong (1933), dir. Lowell Sherman

Belle of the Nineties (1934), dir. Leo McCarey

Lady By Choice (1934), dir. David Burton

Twentieth Century (1934), dir. Howard Hawks

Goin’ to Town (1935), dir. Alexander Hall

Hands Across the Table (1935), dir. Mitchell Leisen

Go West Young Man (1936), dir. Henry Hathaway

Klondike Annie (1936), dir. Raoul Walsh

My Man Godfrey (1936), dir. Gregory La Cava

Nothing Sacred (1937), dir. William A. Wellmann

True Confession (1937), dir. Wesley Ruggles

Every Day’s a Holiday (1938), dir. A. Edward Sutherland

Four’s a Crowd (1938), dir. Michael Curtiz

The Women (1939), dir. George Cukor

Hired Wife (1940), dir. William A. Seiter

His Girl Friday (1940), dir. Howard Hawks

My Little Chickadee (1940), dir. Edward F. Cline

Design for Scandal (1941), dir. Norman Taurog

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), dir. Alfred Hitchcock

This Thing Called Love (1941), dir. Alexander Hall

My Sister Eileen (1942), dir. Alexander Hall

Take a Letter, Darling (1942), dir. Mitchell Leisen

To Be or Not to Be (1942), dir. Ernst Lubitsch

What a Woman! (1943), dir. Irving Cummings