Magazine article Variety

Big-Name Auteurs Pepper Promising Berlin Lineup

Magazine article Variety

Big-Name Auteurs Pepper Promising Berlin Lineup

Article excerpt

ANALYSIS

The Berlin festival has always had to work harder than the other elite festivals. It unspools in snowy February, so can't deliver the lovely weather of a Cannes or Venice or Toronto. It's also not in the calendar's sweet spot for launching an awards season contender, like its rivals. And increasingly, Berlin competition lineups of the past few years have sometimes looked on paper like the equivalent of cinematic granóla: rich in moral fiber, with many issuedriven stories, but a little low on excitement. But this year may be much different.

Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick seems to be upping his game this year by luring some major helmers and delivering a more promising than usual lineup for the Teutonic sprocket opera's 63rd edition. Cannes alumni unspooling world or international premieres in the fest's official selection this year include Wong Kar Wai, bringing chopsocky out-of-comp crowd-pleaser "The Grandmaster" (which bowed in Asia first); Bruno Dumont, with period-piece "Camille Claudel, 1915" starring Juliette Binoche; the stillimprisoned Jafar Panahi with "Closed Curtain," co-directed by Kambuzia Partovi; Hong Sang-soo with femme-driven "Nobody's Daughter Haewon," his first Berlin competish entrant since "Night and Day" in 2008; and Gus Van Sant with "Promised Land," coming back to fest that showed him much love earlier in his career.

Taking a break from his usual berth in Toronto, Danis Tanovic competes for the first time in Berlin with "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," about a Roma family caught up in a medical nightmare, set in the helmer's homeland, Bosnia, while Steven Soderbergh, having favored Venice and Cannes for several of his bigger releases in the past, has returned to the fold with "Side Effects," marking his second visit in a row after showing "Haywire" on Potsdamer Platz in 2011. Austrian Ulrich Seidl, on the other hand, has hedged his bets with his "Paradise" trilogy by playing Cannes with "Love," Venice with "Faith," and now Berlin with "Hope," a rare trifecta of competition visits.

Kosslick and his selection committee have found room for several Berlin alumni in the competition, out-ofcompetition and special strands. Clearly one of Berlin's darlings, especially after winning the honorary Berlinale Camera award, Yoji Yamada returns again out of competition with "Tokyo Family." Tom Hooper's global hit and Oscar hopeful "Les Miserables" makes its German bow out of competition; Hooper brought his 2012 hit "The King's Speech" to Berlin, and then went on to win a best picture Oscar a few weeks later. …

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