With the opening of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival only a couple of days away, we explore our five most anticipated competition films that will be showing at the festival, and competing for the top prize. This years Berlinale has such a variety of films, that if we didn’t stop at five, who knows where the list might have ended!
At one point, film fans had to wait years between Terrence Malick directed films, but in recent times he has had somewhat of a prolific streak, directing The New World in 2005, The Tree of Life 2011, To The Wonder in 2012, and now Knight of Cups. The film is set to revolve around Rick (Christian Bale), a slave to the Hollywood system that on the one hand is intoxicated by success, and on the other is tired of his empty life. According to the Berlinale programme, Knight of Cups is accompanied by the traditional voice-over, which is laid over beautiful images, in true Malick style of course. With Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett also starring, Knight of Cups has some star power behind it. Add that to lure of a Malick once again behind the camera, and Knight of Cups is one not to be missed.
One of only two feature film debuts in the competition, Laura Bispuri‘s Sworn Virgin tells the complicated story of Hana, a young girl who is reluctant to live her life according to the traditional roles that are dictated in the Albanian mountains. As is her right to do so under traditional Albanian law, she chooses to leave her womanhood and femininity behind, to become a man name Mark, also swearing to be a life-long virgin. She is now treated as a man, however ten-years later, her perceived freedom isn’t as free as she once thought, and a visit to her sister in Milan changes her perceptions on life. A fascinating tale that is based on real Albanian laws, and explores the roles of gender and sexuality in modern life, Sworn Virgin stars the magnificent actress Alba Rohrwacher, who won last years Best Actress award at Venice Film Festival.
Taxi director Jafar Panahi has been banned from making films in Iran since 2009, however he has still managed to secretly make three films. The last one, Closed Curtain, premiered at Berlinale in 2013, and won the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay. Panahi’s latest, Taxi, sees the director drive around the busy streets of Tehran with various passengers getting in and out of his taxi, discussing their lives and views on Iran.
Andrew Haigh is a relatively new director, that received critical praise after his 2011 film, Weekend – a touching tale that follows the relationship of Russell and Glen over 48 hours, from one-night stand to maybe something more. 45 Years sees Kate (Charlotte Rampling) planning her 45 wedding anniversary celebrations, when days before the party, her husband receives news that his ex-lover’s body has been found, frozen in the Swiss Alps. Will there still be a marriage to celebrate come the day of the party? In his previous work, Haigh (who also wrote the screenplay) has painted his characters and their relationship in such an organic and honest way that the audience can’t help but get swept up along with them, we are hoping for more of the same here.
Queen of the Desert will be renowned German director Werner Herzog‘s first fictional feature since 2009 when both Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done came out. Starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damien Lewis, and Robert Pattinson, it is also one of his most ‘starriest’ films yet. The film explores the true story of Gertrude Bell (Kidman), a British traveller, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer and political officer, and her journey through the deserts of the Middle East. Hailed, co-producer Nick N. Raslan as a “true epic“, and with Herzog himself giving Nicole Kidman praise for her performance as Bell, “Wait for that one. Wait for it. I make an ominous prediction: How good she is”, we are certainly excited to see what this legendary director has brought to the table this year.
The Berlinale runs from 5th February until the 15th. You can view the full Berlinale programme here.