Helen Mirren in Golda by Guy Nattiv | © Jasper Wolf

Berlinale confirms more films for the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival, including eight more films with guests such as Jeon Do-yeon, Pierfrancesco Favino, Felix Lobrecht, Mario Martone, Helen Mirren, Peter Simonischek and David Wnendt for Berlinale Special; 20 short films from 15 countries competing in Berlinale Shorts; and a Forum Special exploring different aspects of Black culture.

“Berlinale Special takes us on a journey from the harsh and lively world of the 2003 Gropius Stadt in Berlin to a chaotic and hyperactive Hong Kong, from the last night of a policeman (played by Pierfrancesco Favino) in Milan, to the gory world of teenagers in Australia. It continues to take us from the needed memory of a hidden tragedy perpetrated in Africa by German colonial troops in the late XIX century to an unflappable female killer in South Korea (the always amazing Jeon Do-yeon), and finally winds up with the unexpected transformation of Helen Mirren into Golda Meir and a tribute to the beloved actor and filmmaker Massimo Troisi by Mario Martone. The second batch of films presented at Berlinale Special is a great example of how colorful, vibrant, committed, entertaining and gripping cinema can be,” says Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.

The 20 films in the 2023 Berlinale Shorts fully exploit the many possibilities of cinematic storytelling: the fictional works range from beautifully directed and excellently casted dramas (Wo de peng you, As miçangas, Nuits blanches, Qin mi) to warm-hearted grotesque fantasies (La herida luminosa), from poetic political essays (Les chenilles) and magical or angry poems (8, Terra Mater – Mother Land) to stories containing autobiographical elements (Marungka tjalatjunu, Back).

All the films are nominated for the Golden Bear for Best Short Film and the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film). In addition, the Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards will be selected. 

This year, a Forum Special complements the main program of the independent section of the Berlinale. Two newly restored feature-length works explore different aspects of Black culture. The Harvard Film Archive has restored Dick Fontaine’s 1982 documentary I Heard It through the Grapevine. With James Baldwin by his side, the filmmaker travels through the southern states of the USA to find out what has become of the promises of the civil rights movement. A Rainha Diaba (The Devil Queen) by Antonio Carlos da Fontoura from 1974 is a slice of queer genre cinema from Brazil. Although the film was made during the military dictatorship, it is astonishingly candid and flamboyant, with Black star Milton Gonçalves, who died in May, shining in the leading role.

Ten short and feature-length films continue the “Fiktionsbescheinigung” series, which already served to compliment the 2021 and 2022 editions of the Berlinale Forum. The central question behind the series is how culture in general and cinema in particular are related to society and racism. “Fiktionsbescheinigung” is dedicated to the work of Black directors and directors of color in Germany and seeks to incorporate intersectional perspectives into German film historiography.

Berlinale Special

by Guy Nattiv | with Helen Mirren, Camille Cottin, Liev Schreiber
United Kingdom 2022
Berlinale Special Gala | World premiere

Kill Boksoon
by Byun Sung-hyun | with Jeon Do-yeon, Sul Kyung-gu, Kim Si-A, Esom, Koo Kyo-hwan
South Korea 2023
Berlinale Special | World premiere

Laggiù qualcuno mi ama (Massimo Troisi: Somebody Down There Likes Me)
by Mario Martone
Italy 2023
Berlinale Special | World premiere | Documentary Form

L’ultima notte di Amore (Last Night of Amore)
by Andrea Di Stefano | with Pierfrancesco Favino, Linda Caridi, Antonio Gerardi, Francesco Di Leva
Italy 2022
Berlinale Special Gala | World premiere

Ming On (Mad Fate)
by Soi Cheang | with Lam Ka Tung, Lokman Yeung, Berg Ng, Ng Wing Sze, Chan Charm Man Peter
Hong Kong, China 2022
Berlinale Special | World premiere

Sonne und Beton (Sun and Concrete)
by David Wnendt | with Levy Rico Arcos, Vincent Wiemer, Rafael Klein-Heßling, Aaron Maldonado Morales
Germany 2023
Berlinale Special Gala | World premiere

Talk to Me
by Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou | with Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto
Australia 2022
Berlinale Special | European premiere

Der vermessene Mensch
by Lars Kraume | with Leonard Scheicher, Girley Charlene Jazama, Peter Simonischek, Sven Schelker
Germany 2022
Berlinale Special | World premiere

2023 Berlinale Shorts

by Anaïs-Tohé Commaret | with Fatime Coulibaly, Adiara Coulibaly, Foussein Coulibaly, Emma Gonzales Commaret
France 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere
In suburban housing estates in France, young people are wishing for money and success. Their dreams even clog up the air conditioning ducts until everything begins to drip. What might happen if you swallow light?

by Yazan Rabee
Netherlands 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Documentary Form
He has left his Syrian homeland, but he cannot escape from a recurring nightmare where state security forces are pursuing him while the home that can save him seems beyond his grasp. How deep into the past do the roots of a trauma reach?

Les chenilles
by Michelle Keserwany, Noel Keserwany | with Masa Zaher, Noel Keserwany
France 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere
Two women meet as waitresses and tentatively become friends. They are both from the Levant and are now living in exile in France. A film about the historical, geographical and economic impact of silk production, about exploitation and female solidarity.

by Morten Tšinakov, Lucija Mrzljak
Estonia / Croatia 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Animation
It is pouring down with rain at the funeral. There are many tears, too much wine, several woodpeckers and a handful of dreams to fill in the gaps.

From Fish to Moon
by Kevin Contento | with Jean Voltaire, Sue, Nestor, Greg
USA 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Documentary Form
A small supermarket somewhere in the American backwoods. The staff come in early, drink coffee and restock the shelves. They chat about the air conditioning, would like to read poetry in peace and sometimes even get lucky on the slot machine.

Happy Doom
by Billy Roisz
Austria 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
Flickering and pulsating, spitting and swallowing at the same time. The screen becomes a vibrating membrane; colors, shapes, beats and sounds a psychedelic whirlpool. A short, fast-paced audiovisual ode to the hypnotic power of color and vertigo

La herida luminosa (Daydreaming So Vividly About Our Spanish Holidays)
by Christian Avilés | with Sam Zeitlin, Julia Fossi, Dina Serra, Clara Sans, Lily Roberts
Spain 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere
Driven by their desire for light and warmth, British teenagers take a trip to the Balearic islands. They must absorb the sun and store it in their bodies to take it back to their cloud-covered kingdom.

It’s a Date
by Nadia Parfan | with Diana Berg, Olena “Tiger”
Ukraine 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
Kyiv in 2022. A car races at breakneck speed through the city at dawn. Filmed from a subjective camera angle in a single unedited shot, this film captures the emotions in a state of emergency caused by the war.

Jill, Uncredited
by Anthony Ing | with Jill Goldston
United Kingdom 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Documentary Form
At first you do not even notice her, she is one of many. But, little by little, you begin to become aware of her and her special presence. A tribute to the figures in the background without whom the foreground would not be the centre of attention.

A Kind of Testament
by Stephen Vuillemin | with Naomi Christie, Angela Clerkin, Freida Siddall, Aisha Arden, Bethy Read
France 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere | Animation
A young woman comes across animations on the Internet that have clearly been created from her private selfies. An unknown female with the same name confesses to identity theft. But death is quicker than the answer to the question: “Why?”

Marungka tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black)
by Matthew Thorne, Derik Lynch | with Derik Lynch, Dominic Roberts, Christopher Stewart, Dale Baker
Australia 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Documentary Form
Wanting to leave behind his life in the predominantly white city of Adelaide, Derik returns to Aputula, his Indigenous homeland in the heart of Australia. A journey into the past, into pain and joy, dreams, wishes and memories.

As miçangas (The Beads / Perlen)
by Rafaela Camelo, Emanuel Lavor | with Pâmela Germano, Tícia Ferraz, Karine Teles
Brazil 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
Two young women retreat to a remote holiday home. While one of them undertakes a medical abortion, the other quietly cares for her. A snake slithers around them, unnoticed.

Mwanamke Makueni (A Woman in Makueni / Eine Frau in Makueni)
by Daria Belova, Valeri Aluskina | with Peter Oluoko, Mary Wanjuku Wambua, Beatrice Nafula, Nancy Syombuak, Daniel Kitonga
Germany 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
She is in prison, waiting. But he has a long way to travel and arrives too late. He wanders through the strange city, lost, until he meets a woman who is willing to help him with some gentle magic.

Nuits blanches (Sleepless Nights / Schlaflose Nächte)
by Donatienne Berthereau | with Solène Salvat, Léa Schweitzer, Nans Laborde-Jourdàa, Badis Behi
France 2023
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere
April 2022 in France. The presidential election is entering its final round and the atmosphere is tense. Solène, a waitress, drifts through the night. She takes drugs, hurts people’s feelings and increasingly loses her grip.

Ours (Bear / Bär)
by Morgane Frund
Switzerland 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere | Documentary Form
An amateur filmmaker meets the film student who is supposed to edit his material, the focus of which is allegedly bears. A debate arises about the power of the voyeuristic gaze.

Qin mi (Daughter and Son)
by Cheng Yu | with Wuchen Xingzi, Li Minghao
People’s Republic of China 2022
Berlinale Shorts | International premiere
Sachiko and Ming are living together, perhaps they are a couple. They discuss everyday things, slip into different roles and thus tell each other about their relationship.

Terra Mater – Mother Land
by Kantarama Gahigiri | with Cheryl Isheja
Rwanda / Switzerland 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
There she stands, confidently, like a goddess of technological junk, surrounded by endless mountains of rubbish, plastic, stench and rare earths. Her accusations are angry, composed and to the point.

The Veiled City
by Natalie Cubides-Brady | with Aerynne Eastwood
United Kingdom 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere | Documentary Form
In 1952, London was engulfed in the Great Smog. As a result of industrialization, a leaden fog settled over the entire city. These archive images from the period become letters from a desolate future.

The Waiting (Das Warten)
by Volker Schlecht | with Karen Lips
Germany 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere | Animation, Documentary Form
A biologist describes her research into various species of frogs in the rainforest of Central America and their mysterious disappearance as if it were a criminal case. Brilliantly animated drawings accompany her vivid scientific analysis.

Wo de peng you (All Tomorrow’s Parties)
by Zhang Dalei | with Zhou Xun, Wang Yibo, Zhang Chen, Zhang Huilin
People’s Republic of China 2023
Berlinale Shorts | World premiere
China during the 1990 Asian Games. A cinema screening is taking place at a factory in the evening. The janitor distributes the limited tickets while a shy poet waits for someone. A gently told, nostalgic portrait.

Forum Special

by Antonio Skármeta
Federal Republic of Germany 1978
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
In exile in Berlin, Chilean writer Antonio Skármeta celebrates the end of the autocrats: Franco’s death, Idi Amin on the run, the fall of the Shah. Cheerful farewell rituals accompany others facing political persecution on their way to fly home.

Ein Herbst im Ländchen Bärwalde
by Gautam Bora
German Democratic Republic 1983
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung | Documentary Form | Restored by the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf Indian director Gautam Bora documents the everyday work and life perspectives of a family of farmers from Brandenburg. An inverted ethnography on East German agriculture without romanticization.

I Heard It through the Grapevine
by Dick Fontaine | with James Baldwin, David Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Chinua Achebe
USA 1982
Forum Special | Documentary Form | Restored by the Harvard Film Archive
On the trail of the civil rights movement: with typical astuteness and charisma, James Baldwin returns to key locations of protest in the American South and sees old injustices repeated in new legal frameworks.

Der Kampf um den heiligen Baum (The Battle of the Sacred Tree)
by Wanjiru Kinyanjui | with Margaret Nyacheo, Catherine Kariuki, Roslynn Kimani, Titi Wainaina, Ben Ateku
Germany 1995
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
Mumbi leaves Nairobi for her ancestral village and gets into a quarrel with a Christian women’s group seeking to eradicate the remains of pre-colonial belief systems. Wanjiru Kinyanjui graduated from the DFFB with this smart comedy shot in Kenya.

Kara Kafa (Black Head)
by Korhan Yurtsever | with Betül Aşçıoğlu, Savaş Yurttaş, Cüneyt Kaymak, Özlem Güler, Macit Flordun
Turkey 1979
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung | Restored by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in collaboration with bi’bak/Sinema
Transtopia (2021-22)
Korhan Yurtsever’s feature is the story of a family’s disintegration, but also of left-wing activism in the context of Turkish migration to West Germany. The Turkish censorship office deemed it an insult to “the honor of Germany, our befriended nation”.

A Lover & Killer of Colour
by Wanjiru Kinyanjui | with Alida Babel
Federal Republic of Germany 1988
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
“I strike with the brush until the white canvas tears.” Wanjiru Kinyanjui’s fiction short about a Black painter in West Berlin was shot on 16mm and draws its power from its atmospheric night scenes and self-confident stream of consciousness.

Man sa yay (I, Your Mother)
by Safi Faye | with Moussa J. Sarr, Yay Sokhna, Yvonne Nafi
Federal Republic of Germany / Senegal 1980
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
“Sooner or later, I’ll return to where my other self is.” The everyday experiences of a Senegalese student in West Berlin are marked by a sense of uneasiness in Europe and his family’s expectations in the form of a constant stream of letters.

Mein Vater, der Gastarbeiter
by Yüksel Yavuz
Germany 1995
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung | Documentary Form
The first generation of migrants before the camera held by the second: Yavuz creates a portrait of his father, who never felt at home in Germany and returned to his Kurdish village after working for 15 years at a Hamburg shipyard. His children stayed.

Onun Haricinde, İyiyim (Other than That, I’m Fine)
by Eren Aksu | with Seda Güngör, Ruth Hornemann, Dilan GeZaza, Gizem Özbek, Oğuzhan Okumuş
Germany / Turkey 2020
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
Aslı has recently moved to Berlin from Turkey. At a casting for an audio guide for a Berlin museum, she sees archaeological artefacts from her home. Via short encounters and precise images, Eren Aksu’s short film maps out a feeling of not belonging.

Ordnung (All in Order)
by Sohrab Shahid Saless | with Heinz Lieven, Dorothea Moritz, Ingrid Domann, Peter Schütze, Dagmar Hessenland
Federal Republic of Germany 1980
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung
Iranian director Saless’ radical style was unique in the West German cinema of the 70s and 80s. His black-and-white film dissects the disturbed state of an unemployed construction engineer entirely at odds with social norms.

by Chetna Vora
German Democratic Republic 1980
Forum Special Fiktionsbescheinigung | Documentary Form | Work print from the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf
Indian director Chetna Vora’s portrait of students in East Germany from Cuba, Guinea-Bissau, Chile and Mongolia shows them chatting, studying, dancing and making music in their hall of residence.

A Rainha Diaba (The Devil Queen)
by Antonio Carlos da Fontoura | with Milton Gonçalves, Stepan Nercessian, Odete Lara, Nelson Xavier, Wilson Grey
Brazil 1973
Forum Special | Restored by CinemaScópio and Cinelimite
Brazil’s black acting icon Milton Gonçalves plays the queen of the Rio de Janeiro gangsters in this slice of queersploitation cinema from the military dictatorship era: flamboyant costumes, tons of makeup and even more fake blood.

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