The jury president this year is Kristen Stewart, and while much ink has been already spilled about her being the youngest ever to head the prestigious panel at 32 years of age it does bear reminding just how remarkable a run of film projects she’s engaged with in her now decades long career, shifting from a star-making YA franchise to some of the most beloved art films of the last few years. She is joined by Iranian/French actor Golshifteh Farahani, German filmmaker Valeska Grisebach, Golden Bear winner Radu Jude, American Casting maestro Francine Maisler (a very fascinating inclusion as craft members are rarely selected!), Spanish director Carla Simón and legendary Hong Kong icon Johnnie To.
It’s often the somber fare that gets all the attention from this festival, so it’s notable to see that Rebecca Miller’s romcom “She Came to Me” is set to open the fest. The film stars Peter Dinklage and Anne Hathaway and is one of the rare projects that brings with it a whiff of Hollywood. Another competition film, Matt Johnson’s “Blackberry,” is a rare Canadian contribution to the competition. Starring Jay Baruchel, it also promises to reflect a darkly comedic mood, a potentially perfect response during these trying times.
Berlin has long been home to some legends from the international arthouse crowd, and this year sees Silver Bear winner Hong Sang-soo bow his 29th film “In Water,” a film about filmmaking that runs a brisk 61 minutes. Iconic director Margarethe von Trotta bows her latest, “Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert,” about the life of a poet and starring the ever prolific Vicky Krieps, and Christian Petzold is set to bow his heated relationship drama “Afire”.
Rolf De Heer’s “The Survival of Kindness,” his first film since 2013 exceptional “Charlie’s Country,” also bows in competition, as does the anime “Suzume” by Japan’s Makoto Shinkai. Celine Song’s “Past Lives,” starring Greta Lee and Teo Yoo, which already bowed at Sundance to great acclaim, gets its international debut, while John Tengrove debuts “Manodrome,” starring Adrien Brody and Jesse Eisenberg. Under the “Encounters” juried section, Leandro Koch’s “The Klezmer Project” looks to be quite promising, while American indie fave Dustin Guy Defa drops his latest collaboration with Michael Cera, “The Adults”.
Doc debuts include “The Echo” from Mexico, Paul B Preciado’s trans/non-binary hybrid film “Orlando, My Political Biography,” and Rogers Ross Williams (director of Sundance Luchador hit “Cassandro”) & Brooklyn Sudano’s “Love to Love You, Donna Summer” about the iconic disco diva that made Berlin her home for many years.
The 73rd Berlinale Film Festival runs from February 16 to 23rd, 2023.