The 69th edition of the Berlinale begins and Mexico participates with four productions
The curtain of the Berlinale, the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, directed for the last time by Dieter Kosslick, rises today with the world premiere in the competition of the new film by the Danish Lone Scherfig, The Gentleness of Foreigners, a co-production where apart from Denmark appear Canada, Sweden, France and Germany.
Another multinational seems to be the cast headed by the French Tahar Rahim and the American Zoe Kazan in a story that takes place in a Russian restaurant in New York frequented by several people, typical representatives of the multinational society of the American city.
A large number of international film stars will be present at the event accompanied by films in competition and parading through the red carpet of the Berlinale Palast, the venue of the event in the historic Potsdamer Platz.
Among others will be Catherine Deneuve, Tilda Swinton, Juliette Binoche, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, James Norton, Martin Freeman, Stellan Skarsgard, Diane Kruger, Peter Sarsgaard, Zoe Kazan and Tahar Rahim.
The official program of the contest consists of 23 films of which 17 are in competition - seven of them directed by women - in contention for the coveted Golden Bear and Silver Bears that will be attributed by the official jury on February 16.
Among the most eagerly anticipated films by international directors are the autobiographical documentary Agnes by Varda by the eternal young French film grandmother Agnes Varda, A second, by Zhang Yimou and Adios my son, by his compatriot Wang Xiaoshuai; Goodbye to the night of French Andre Techine and Gracias a Dios, by his colleague Francois Ozon; Mr Jones, from the prolific veteran Agnieszka Holland, Anthology of the ghost town, by the Canadian Denis Cote, while the Turkish-born German Fatih Akin returns to the Berlinale with The Golden Gloves, one of the four German productions that appear in the official selection, three of them in competition.
The Spanish Isabel Coixet also returns with Elisa and Marcela while Latin America has a film in the official selection. It is about the Brazilian production Marighella, the biography of the historical political leader of that country, the first film of the actor Wagner Moura presented out of competition.
Mexico will premiere in three sections of the Berlinale three productions and a co-production, although it is absent from the competition where last year Alonso Ruizpalacios Museum was awarded with a Silver Bear for the best script.
The very limited presence of Latin America in the competition breaks with tradition in some way, since the Berlinale has been the main international festival since 2001 when Dieter Kosslick took over, offering ample space for the diffusion of Latin American cinema, also awarding many movies of the continent. Just last year, apart from the Museum, the Uruguayan production Las heiresses, by Marcelo Martinessi won the Silver Bear, Alfred Bauer.
The international jury for the films in competition, where Fernando Eimbcke, Michel Franco and Diego Luna were members from 2015 to 2017, is chaired by the French star Juliette Binoche and formed by the American critic Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times, Variety), the German actress Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann), the Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (A fantastic woman, Oscar for best foreign film in 2017), Rajendra Roy (director of the film department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York-MOMA, and the actress, director and British producer Trudie Styler.
A second international jury will award the prize worth 50,000 Euros to one of the first 16 films premiered in all the sections of the contest. Among them are one from Brazil and another from Costa Rica.
The jury is made up of Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis (Felicite, Silver Bear - great jury prize 2017), by the Chinese director Vivian Qu (Black carbon, transparent ice, Best Golden Bear film 2014) and the producer, German writer Katja Eichinger.
In the Panorama section, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, led by the Spanish Paz Lazaro, the Latin American presence is important in notable difference with that of competition.
Among the 45 selected productions from 38 countries, there are fictions and documentaries, 11 films from the continent, three from Argentina, and others from Brazil, while Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are represented by a film each.
Mexico presents with Argentina, and the Dominican Republic the co-production La fierra y la fiesta, the new film by Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amalia Guzmán, who have successfully ventured into the past in more co-productions (Cochochi, 2007 and Jean Gentile, 2010).
In this case Pimienta Films by Nicolas Celis, the producer along with Gabriela Rodriguez from Rome by Alfonso Cuarón, is in charge of the co-production by Mexico.
Guatemala is represented by Temblores, the second feature by Jayro Bustamante, who won the prestigious Alfred Bauer Award in 2015 for his first feature Ixcanul.
In the Forum section, among the 39 selected films there are six Latin Americans, Brazil in the lead with three followed by Argentina, Costa Rica and Colombia with one.
Mexico presents here in the subsection Forum Expanded the short Curupira-creature of the forests, a co-production with France directed by Felix Blume.
Another Mexican production, Los ausentes, directed by José Lomas, premieres in the competitive section of Generation K Plus, dedicated to young people's films, where two international juries will award the Crystal Bears awards.
It is recalled that Luis Mandoki took the Crystal Bear here in 2004 for Innocent Voices.
The fourth Mexican production, the documentary La Herencia del Viento by Alejandra Retana, César Camacho and César Hernández is presented in the Native section focused on indigenous-themed film
On the other hand, nine young Mexican filmmakers have been selected to participate in the Berlinale Talents that offers training to aspiring and young filmmakers selected all over the world.
Once the festival is over, the Berlinale Talents will travel to the Guadalajara Festival next month to train young Latin American filmmakers, in collaboration with the FICG within Talents Guadalajara.
Of the rest of the sections of the festival we will remember that reserved for the Culinary Cinema on the relationship of the cinema with food and the environment, that of Berlinale Classics with its retrospectives, while among the expected tributes will be given to the great British actress Charlotte Rampling.
Within the framework of the Film Market (EFM) and the Berlinale Co-production Market will be present the Mexican production company Pimienta by Nicolas Celis chosen along with 4 other foreign producers to participate in the so-called Companies Matching.
Netflix makes its first official appearance at the Berlinale with the Norwegian series Quicksand and the same happens with Amazon Prime with the British series Hanna, both selected in the official Berlinale Series.
For its part, the Berlinale Co-production Market dedicated mainly to promoting co-productions in the cinema area opens for the second year in a row to the series co-productions, ten this year.
Norway is the guest country of honor of the EFM where the new spaces created for virtual reality are also repeated, the Producer's Hub, the space for short films and the Hub Africa for films from that continent.
The traditionally important presence of the Mexican film industry in the EFM (Mexico guest of honor in 2017) will be this year in charge of Angela Guerrero, the new deputy director of international events of IMCINE.
Another flaming director, that of the Guadalajara festival, Estrella Araiza, will also be present at the Berlinale accompanied by the former director of the Iván Trujillo contest.