The Movie Highlights of the Berlinale Festival 2016

Hail, Caesar!

It’s here! One of the world’s premiere film festivals sets up shop for the next ten days in theaters all around the city. Are you going? Yes, it can be a bit of a hassle to try and snag tickets, since it feels like the whole film world descends on our city – Hollywood insiders, independent financiers and other various movers & shakers. But it’s also fun to get swept up in the hype, especially when there are such good films to see! And there’s still time to get tickets to tons of films through the Berlinale website – tickets are released three days before the screenings. To help you navigate the crazy 400 + films in the programme and the goings on around the cinema, here are our Berlinale recommendations.

Oh, but before we get to the movies, let’s talk food for a moment!

Running from one screening to the next is exhausting and the snacks available at Potsdamer Platz Arkaden are, well, let’s politely say: not great. Luckily Markhalle Neun joined forces with the Berlinale a few years ago and sets up a little Street Food Market right in the Heart of Berlinale on Potsdamer Strasse. If you’re in the area, watching films or not, we must recommend you stop by for a snack. It’s also great to people-watch!

Now the films:

Hail, Caesar! (Joel & Ethan Coen, USA 2015)
If you’ve been to the movies lately, you’ve seen this trailer. It looks super fun! And the Berlinale will kick things off at the grand Berlinale Palast opening ceremony on Thursday by screening this. Makes sense, since the Coen brothers’ latest is sure to be a hit. It’s part of the Competition programme, but technically out of competition for the Golden Bear. Tickets to the three screenings of this film will be impossible to get, but don’t worry – you and your friends can all go see it without so much fuss in just one more week, when it’s released throughout the country.

Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, USA, 2015)
This film has credible names (Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Michael Shannon) and is helmed by a rising indie auteur – Jeff Nichols directed Mud (part of Matthew McConaughey’s big revival) and Take Shelter. This one seems to be more supernatural in its subject matter. Should be good.

Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria, 2016)
Austrian Director Nikolaus Gehrhalter makes pensive, experimental documentaries about contemporary society. Did you see Our Daily Bread or Abendland? His new one is sure to be as chillingly provocative. And it’s not even on iMDB or Wikipedia yet. Quite mysterious… This plays as part of the Berlinale’s International Forum for New Cinema programme.

The Commune (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark, 2015)
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt and The Celebration are excellent movies. We’re hoping this one, about the struggles within a 1970s leftist alternative living space, is just as good. Try to see it this week, or wait for its proper release in April.

Remainder (Omer Fast, Great Britain/Germany 2015)
Omer Fast has been doing awesome video installations as a visual artist all these years – he was the stand-out in New York’s 2008 Whitney Biennial. This is his first feature film. The plot is difficult and probably pointless to describe. It’s the sort of movie to check out based on interest alone. It played at the BFI London Film Festival, but nowhere else – it’s probably still in search of a distribution deal, making it all the more valuable to see here.

The Dark Side of the Moon (Stephan Rick, Germany, 2015)
This German film starring Moritz Bleibtreu is about a man whose successful life is changed dramatically by taking psychedelic mushrooms. Nice to see this topic in cinema – hopefully it’s not too sensationalist. It’s already playing in German theaters, but not with English subtitles.

Zero Days (Alex Gibney, USA, 2016)
This is the world premiere of a provocative documentary about cyber warfare. There’s actually malware out there that can wipe out the infrastructure of entire nations. America and Israel are behind its development. It was created to attack Iran, but now it can’t be stopped, maybe. I’ve said enough…

Chi-Raq (Spike Lee, USA, 2016)
This is Spike Lee’s latest, about the incessant violence within the black community in Chicago. The title merges that city’s name with Iraq, the infamous quagmire of a war. Indeed, inner city American violence is a problem too often ignored; Spike Lee is sure to speak some truth in this one.

In Defense of Food (Michael Schwarz, USA, 2015)
Michael Pollan wrote a book years ago called The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and it sort of kicked off the food craze that we remain in today. How can we eat better? How do we eat the best, even? The Berlinale is tackling the rich subject with a myriad of offerings, including In Defense of Food, which tracks the author’s whole thesis, and Cooked, which are a series of documentaries on the science of cooking.

Destiny (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1921)
The Berlinale doesn’t just show new movies that are trying to secure distribution deals. It also screens old classics. Acclaimed German director Fritz Lang made the silent film Destiny in 1921, making this the oldest screening this year. Now it’s getting the live orchestra treatment.

Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore, USA, 2015)
It’s been seven years since Michael Moore released one of his scathing political documentaries. Capitalism: A Love Story felt like it could be his last. But now he returns with a movie that seems more casual in feel. Of course we’re curious. In case we miss it now, it will be released properly in a few weeks.

And finally, we have a little something for all of you who are not in Berlin for the festival. This is a great little map that chronologically takes you through all those Berlin spots that have been used as film sets. Just click on any of the flags on the map and the little pop-up window below gives you a synopsis and links immediately to the trailer. It’s in German only, but you can surely find the English trailer with our good friend Google. Enjoy your filmic cruise through Berlin.

Movie map by Wimdu

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<a href="" target="_self">Keith</a>