Berlinale is Back, Baby! (sort of)

Film lovers get ready: Berlin’s most famous film festival returns in a special format

Words By Marlen Jacobshagen

The world-famous Berlinale is Berlin’s fanciest and most prestigious film festival, running six days each year and screening international indie jewels in cinemas and other big venues around the city. During this time, Berlin turns into a film lover’s paradise with panel discussions, workshops, excursions as well as film screenings and red carpet premieres. If you’re lucky you can even spot the odd film star wandering around Berlin. But as with so many other things, this year the Berlinale will be different.

With life having been turned a bit upside down since early 2020, the Berlinale is taking place in a more unusual format in 2021. The festival runners have decided to split the 71st Berlin International Film Festival into two stages. The first stage was an industry-only event that took place earlier this year. The second stage is an outdoor only event that is open to the general public (that’s us!). From June 9th to June 20th in a range of open air venues, this stage will show a selection of movies from this year.

While these changes might upset some of the usual visitors (maybe you can hear a distant gasp from a 120 sqm condo in Wilmersdorf?), it is an opportunity for Berlinale newbies to experience the festival in a less overwhelming setting. To help you navigate your way through it all, we’ve compiled the most important information and highlighted 15 must-see movies. Enjoy your first big post-lockdown event!

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Help, how do I even get tickets for this?

Anyone who has ever attended the Berlinale film festival in recent years knows that nabbing tickets is one of the most challenging parts. Some people queue up for hours, some try their luck online. This year, you can only purchase tickets via the websites of the respective open-air cinemas. Sales begin on June 3rd, 10am so pick a few movies and set an alarm. Ticket prices are a bit steep, ranging from €10 to €15 Euros each, or €5 for Generation Kplus screenings, but we are all starved of culture so it is definitely worth it.

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Outdoor venues, praise be!

Forget the weeks of rain, hail, thunder and snow (wtf?), summer is here! And luckily, all screenings of the Berlinale will be held in the open air. This is not only safer, it also gives you the opportunity to check out different areas of Berlin and experience some impressive sights of the city at the same time. We recommend seeing one of the many screenings in front of Schloss Charlottenburg or on the grounds of the BUFA film studios. Here’s a map of all the venues.

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Getting with the programme

The programme of the Berlinale is massive and can be overwhelming at first glance. To get a good overview of what is shown, you should make yourself familiar with the different sections:

Competition: Self-explanatory, but this section shows the films that are competing for the big prizes.
Berlinale Series: A glimpse at the most promising TV series.
Berlinale Special: The special is reserved for the extraordinary and glamorous screenings.
Encounters: This section is for more daring works from independent, innovative filmmakers.
Berlinale Shorts: A selection of short movies, grouped together by topics or other aspects.
Panorama: Traditionally the audience favourite. This section has its biggest jury which chooses the audience award.
Forum & Forum Expanded: A more meta reflection on the medium of film and aestheticism.
Generation: For younger cinephiles (but also everyone else). Here you can find some hidden gems!
Perspektive Deutsches Kino: Talented new directors from Germany show that German cinema isn’t dead.
Retrospective, Berlinale Classics & Homage: An intro to film history – will be shown in 2022!

Of course, even that can still be overwhelming. That’s why we selected 15 movies that you should put to the top of your list. If you want to explore the whole programme for yourself, you can find it here.

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Our 15 tips for unmissable flicks

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What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?
[Ras vkhedavt, rodesac cas vukurebt?]

We’re all in need of a good love story! This Georgian feature film about love at first sight promises to lift our Corona-damaged spirits.

Section: Competition

Screenings:
Wed Jun 16, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino Museumsinsel

Fri Jun 18, 9:45pm
[email protected]

Sat Jun 19th, 9:45pm
ARTE Sommerkino Schloss Charlottenburg

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Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
[Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc]

What would you do if you saw the teacher of your children in a porn? Director Radu Jude discusses post-soviet morals in modern day Romania.

Section: Competition

Screenings:
Tue Jun 15, 10:00pm

[email protected]

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The Beta Test

A modern political thriller meets horror comedy. Set in a world of a collapsing Hollywood, an agent’s net of lies is threatened to unravel.

Section: Encounters

Screenings:
Fri Jun 18, 10:15pm
ARTE Sommerkino Kulturforum

Sat Jun 19, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino Biesdorfer Parkbühne

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Censor

A nightmarish, gorey journey of a film censor during which the lines between fiction and reality become increasingly blurred.

Section: Panorama

Screenings:
Mon Jun 14, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino Friedrichshain

Wed Jun 16, 9:45pm
Freilichtbühne Weißensee

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Courage

More relevant than ever: Courage follows actors of the Belarus Free Theatre and the threat they are exposed because of their decision to “betray art”.

Section: Berlinale Special

Screening:
Sun Jun 13, 10:00pm
Freilichtbühne Weißensee

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French Exit

Michelle Pfeiffer plays a widowed Manhattan socialite on the brink of insolvency. Together with her 32-year old son and her cat she escapes to Paris.

Section: Berlinale Special Gala

Screening:
Sun Jun 13, 10:00pm
Freiluftkino Friedrichshagen

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Dirty Feathers

Documentary about people on the streets of the US-Mexican border towns of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez who try to survive.

Section: Panorama Dokumente

Screening:
Fri Jun 18, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg

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From the Wild Sea

A touching depiction of the effects of climate change and pollution to the ecosystems world-wide.

Section: Generation 14plus

Screenings:
Tue Jun 15, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino Rehberge

Thu Jun 17, 9:45pm
Freiluftkino vom Filmrauschpalast

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Bliss
[Glück]

A lesbian lovestory including sex work, provincial life in Brandenburg and parties in Berlin. What’s not to love?

Section: Panorama

Screenings:
Wed Jun 09, 9:30pm
Freiluftkino Kreuzberg

Thu Jun 10, 9:30pm
Freiluftkino Friedrichshagen

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It’s a Sin

We all have watched enough TV indoors, now it’s time to watch some outdoors. It’s a sin shows the tragic story of young gay teens during the AIDS crisis in Great Britain. Don’t forget your tissues!

Section: Berlinale Series

Screening:
Fri Jun 11, 9:30pm
ARTE Sommerkino Schloss Charlottenburg

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The Scary of Sixty-First

Two female friends move into an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which was previously owned by Jeffrey Epstein in this Giallo-style horror comedy.

Section: Encounters

Screenings:
Sat Jun 19, 10:15pm
ARTE Sommerkino Kulturforum

Sun Jun 20, 10:00pm
[email protected]

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Film and Political Activism – A Conversation with John Greyson

You don’t feel ready for bigger groups of people yet? Try this free online conversation with filmmaker John Greyson about film and political activism. Register by email at [email protected].

Section: Berlinale Shorts

Screening:
Wed Jun 16, 6:30pm
Botschaft von Kanada – online
Online Event | Free access

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The First 54 Years – An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation

How does military occupation work? Israeli film maker Avi Mograbi discusses the prime example, the occupation of the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Section: Forum

Screening:
Sat Jun 12, 9:30pm
Open Air Kino HKW

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The Inheritance

The Inheritance portrays black communities, art and culture in a way that is usually not seen in mainstream film. A story between fiction and real-life events.

Section: Forum

Screening:
Thu Jun 17, 9:30pm
Open Air Kino HKW

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Jesus Egon Christus

After the visit of a self-proclaimed priest, Egon, struggling with a psychotic disorder, thinks he is in contact with Jesus and sinks deeper and deeper into his psychosis.

Section: Perspektive Deutsches Kino

Screenings:
Mon Jun 14, 9:45pm
Freilichtbühne Weißensee

Fri Jun 18, 9:30pm
Freiluftkino Hasenheide

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For the full deets on everything to do with the Berlinale, dig around their website.

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