The Berlin Film Festival has revealed an exciting lineup consisting of diverse stars such as Rooney Mara, Stephen Fry, and Gael García Bernal.

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The Berlin film festival, announced on Monday, includes a diverse selection of films such as a parody of Star Wars set in northern France, a surprising pairing of Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham as father and daughter, and Colombian cocaine hippos.

On February 15th, the 74th installment of the Berlinale, a 10-day event, will kick off with the debut of Small Things Like These, a film adaptation of Clare Keegan’s popular historical novel. Enda Walsh has adapted the screenplay and the film will star Cillian Murphy, who reunites with Tim Mielants, the Belgian director who worked on the third season of Peaky Blinders.

The leaders of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, will be curating the festival for their fifth and final time. In the past, they have focused on showcasing thought-provoking and artistic films rather than flashy glamour. However, for their last festival, they have chosen to include a number of renowned actors collaborating with esteemed directors.

Mexican actor Gael García Bernal and Norwegian newcomer Renate Reinsve (from The Worst Person in the World) are the main stars in the dystopian sci-fi drama Another End, directed by Italian filmmaker Piero Messina. The story follows a man who loses his wife and then rents out her body to another woman.

Rooney Mara appears in the inventive film “La Cocina” by Mexican director Alonso Ruizpalacios, a romantic tale that takes place in a New York restaurant kitchen. Isabelle Huppert will also be in attendance at the festival to accept the honorary Golden Bear award she was previously awarded in 2022, and she will also star in Hong Sang-soo’s “Yeohaengjaui Pilyo (A Traveller’s Needs)” from South Korea.

French directors feature prominently, with Olivier Assayas’s “pandemic comedy” Hors du Temps (Suspended Time), and Bruno Dumont’s L’Empire, an absurdist Star Wars parody set in a fishing village on the Opal coast.

In German director Julia von Heinz’s tragicomedy Treasure, Dunham plays an American music journalist who travels to Poland with her Holocaust survivor father Edek (Fry). Formerly titled Iron Box, the film will see its world premiere at the festival but not run in the competition for the Golden Bear.

The documentary titled Pepe, directed by Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias from the Dominican Republic, follows the story of a hippopotamus that resided in the personal zoo of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. This film is also being shown outside of any competitive events.

Bruce LaBruce, a Canadian artist, presents The Visitor, a reinterpretation of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Theorem set in London. The film follows a refugee who stays with a wealthy family and engages in sexual activities with each family member. The movie will make its debut at the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival.

Rissenbeek and Chatrian, who will pass the directorship baton on to former London film festival director Tricia Tuttle, opened their programme presentation on Monday with a positioning statement on the Israel-Hamas war.

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“Festivals offer a platform for showcasing artistic expression and promoting peaceful communication. They serve as a hub for connection and exchange, promoting global understanding. We strongly believe that by utilizing the power of films and open discussions, we can cultivate empathy, awareness, and understanding, particularly during challenging times,” stated Chatrian.

In the beginning of this month, there was a petition organized anonymously that urged for a boycott of German cultural establishments due to accusations of the government suppressing pro-Palestinian viewpoints. Recently, two directors declared that they are removing their films from the Berlinale event.

Chatrian expressed remorse for their decision, yet there were no indications that any filmmakers in the primary program were participating in the boycott.


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