Berlin Film Festival Unveils First Competition Titles

The Golden Glove
© 2018 bomberoint._WarnerBros.Ent._photobyGordonTimpen

New films from Fatih Akin and Francois Ozon are in the running for the 2019 Golden Bear.

The Berlin Film Festival on Thursday unveiled the first competition titles for its 2019 edition, with new films from Fatih Akin and Francois Ozon among the highlights premiering in the 69th Berlinale.

Akin, who won Berlin's Golden Bear in 2004 with Head-On, marks his return to the Berlinale with the world premiere of the hotly anticipated The Golden Glove, a true-life crime tale set in the director's home town of Hamburg. Ozon, a Berlinale regular, will celebrate the international premiere of his latest, By the Grace of God, in Berlin in 2019.

Other competition titles announced Thursday, all of which will have their world premiere in Berlin, include I Was at Home, But from German director Angela Schanelec (The Dreamed Path), A Tale of Three Sisters from Turkish filmmaker Emin Alper (Beyond the Hill) and Ghost Town Anthology from Canadian director Denis Cote (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear).

After premiering The Fatherless in Berlin's Panorama Special section in 2011,  Austrian director Marie Kreutzer will make her Berlin competition debut with The Ground Beneath My Feet. The film follows Lola, a late-20-something and high-powered business consultant (played by Valerie Pachner) who keeps her private life — particularly her family's history of mental illness — secret. But when Lola's older sister Conny (Pia Hierzegger) is forced back into Lola's life, her secrets begin to unravel.

Watergate, a documentary from Inside Job director Charles Ferguson will have its European premiere in Berlin in a special screening. Other non-competition special screenings announced Thursday include Brecht, a TV miniseries staring Burghart Klaussner (The White Ribbon) as legendary German playwright Bertolt Brecht; and Gully Boy, a coming-of-age tale inspired by the lives of street rappers in Mumbai, from Indian filmmaker Zoya Akhtar (Lust Stories). 

The 69th Berlin International Film Festival kicks off Feb. 7 with The Kindness of Strangers from Danish director Lone Scherfig (An Education). The New York-set drama stars Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim, Andrea Riseborough, Caleb Landry Jones, Jay Baruchel and Bill Nighy.

French actress and Oscar winner Juliette Binoche will head up the international competition jury for the 2019 Berlin festival, selecting the winners of Berlin's Gold and Silver Bears.

The 69th Berlinale will also be the final festival under longtime director Dieter Kosslick, who has run the Berlin festival since 2002. Carlo Chatrian, former artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, will take over in Berlin in 2020.

The 69th Berlinale runs through Feb. 17.