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Berlinale 2011. Competition Lineup

Following December's announcement of the first eight titles lined up for the Competition at this year's Berlinale (February 20 through 30), the festival has announced today that the main program is now complete. 22 films in all, 16 competing. We'll get to those in a moment, but first, today's other major Berlinale news: "In support of the convicted Iranian director Jafar Panahi, the Berlin International Film Festival is launching a number of initiatives," including screenings in five of its sections (beginning with Panahi's Offside, for which he won the Silver Bear in 2006, on February 16) and "a panel discussion with Iranian filmmakers and artists on censorship, and the restriction of freedom of opinion and expression in Iran. Iranian director and actor Rafi Pitts (The Hunter, Berlinale Competition 2010) has already confirmed his attendance." See, too, Pitts's "Open Letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." And the "participation of other filmmakers and artists living in exile as well as of prominent Berlinale guests will be announced soon."

On to the lineup...

A Torinói Ló (The Turin Horse), Hungary/France/Germany/Switzerland. By Béla Tarr (Satantango, Werckmeister Harmonies). With János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos. World premiere. The synopsis from ioncinema: "Co-written by Tarr and Laszlo Krasznahorkai, the film is freely inspired by an episode that marked the end of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's career. On January 3, 1889, on the piazza Alberto in Turin, a weeping Nietzsche flung his arms around an exhausted and ill-treated carriage horse, then lost consciousness. After this event, the philosopher never wrote again and descended into madness and silence. From this starting point, The Turin Horse goes on to explore the lives of the coachman ([Miroslav] Krobot), his daughter (Bók) and the horse in an atmosphere of poverty heralding the end of the world." A few days ago, discussion of this film here on MUBI — and it does seem that this will be his last for a while, though hopefully not too terribly long — led to recent news item: Tarr hopes to open an international film academy in Split, Croatia. Update, 1/19: The Playlist has a first image.

Almanya - Willkommen in Deutschland (Almanya), Germany. By Yasemin Samdereli – debut film. With Vedat Erincin, Fahri Yardin, Aylin Tezel, Lilay Huser, Demet Gül. World premiere / Out of Competition. From Roxy Film: "Almanya tells the story of a Turkish family living in Germany for three generations now who follow the wish of the grandfather and travel back to the homeland for the very first time. But their turbulent travels take an unexpected turn…"

El premio (The Prize), Mexico/France/Poland/Germany. By Paula Markovitch – debut film. With Paula Galinelli Hertzog, Sharon Herrera, Laura Agorreca, Viviana Suraniti, Uriel Lasillo. World premiere. According to cinencuentro, the film relates the turmoil sparked in the 70s in the Argentine town of San Clemente del Tuyú by a paper written for a school competition by the daughter of political dissidents.

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation), Iran. By Asghar Farhadi (About Elly, Fireworks Wednesday). With Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi. International premiere. In October, Wiliam Yong reported in the New York Times that Iranian officials, who had previously banned Farhadi from making films during the production of this one — about a couple getting a divorce — had then lifted the ban following an apology from the filmmaker: "It was unclear precisely how Mr Farhadi had apologized. He had previously said his remarks had been misconstrued." He had "aroused the ire of cultural officials and hard-liners during an acceptance speech after being named best director at an award ceremony in September organized by Iran's House of Cinema, a guild of filmmakers… During the speech, Mr Farhadi called for the return of the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf to Iran. He is in a self-imposed exile and has been one of the most ardent supporters of Iran's opposition Green Movement since [2009's] election. Mr Farhadi also expressed hope that the director Jafar Panahi would soon return to making movies."

Les contes de la nuit (Tales of the Night), France. By Michel Ocelot. World premiere – animated film in 3D. A half-hour film of the same name was shown on television in 1992. Perhaps this is the same idea expanded by another hour and another dimension.

Les femmes du 6ème étage (Service Entrance), France. By Philippe Le Guay (Le coût de la vie). With Fabrice Lucchini, Sandrine Kiberlain, Carmen Maura, Natalia Verbeke. International premiere / Out of Competition. The setting is Paris in the 60s, according to Toutlecine. A conservative stockbroker falls for a young woman living in the same building. "But can he really change his life at the age of 45?"

Margin Call, USA. By JC Chandor – debut film. With Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Zach Quinto. International premiere. We've got the Sundance synopsis on the film's page: "Over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis, the key people at a investment bank struggle to decide how to handle an emergency business situation while examining the personal and moral implications of every action they take."

Mein bester Feind (My Best Enemy), Austria/Luxemburg. By Wolfgang Murnberger (The Bone Man). With Moritz Bleibtreu, Georg Friedrich, Ursula Strauss, Uwe Bohm, Marthe Keller, Udo Samel. World premiere / Out of Competition. From the Austrian Film Institute: "Victor Kaufmann and Rudi Smekal have been friends since their were children. But National Socialism changes everything. They have to face up to each other as 'hostile brothers.' My Friend, the Enemy is a roaring comedy set against the background of terror."

Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda (Come Rain Come Shine), Republic of Korea. By Lee Yoon-ki (Love Talk, This Charming Girl). With Lim Soo-jung, Hyan Bin. World premiere. A melodrama about "a couple who have been married for five years, but who continue to play hide and seek with their true feelings," according to Film Business Asia.

Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness), Germany/France/Netherlands. By Ulrich Köhler (Windows on Monday, Bungalow). With Pierre Bokma, Jean-Christophe Folly, Jenny Schily, Hippolyte Girardot. World premiere. From Komplizen Film: "bbo and Vera Velten have been living in Africa for a long time. Ebbo is managing a sleeping sickness program. His work is fulfilling. In contrast, Vera feels increasingly uncomfortable with her life in the international community of Yaoundé and the separation from her daughter Helen, 14, who is attending boarding school in Germany. Ebbo has to give up his life in Africa if he doesn’t want to lose the women he loves. But he has become a stranger to Europe. His fear of returning increases from day to day. Years later. Alex Nzila, a young French doctor of Congolese origin, travels to Cameroon to evaluate a development project. He hasn’t been to Africa for a long time. But instead of finding new prospects, he encounters a destructive, lost man: like a phantom, Ebbo slips away from his evaluator."

The Forgiveness of Blood, USA. By Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace). With Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Laçej, Refet Abazi, Ilire Vinca, Çelaj, Çun Lajçi. World premiere. "All over Albania," reported Colin Freeman in the Telegraph last July, "there are entire generations scared to venture outdoors in case they're killed — all because of decades-old 'blood feuds.' And not even the law can help them." In June, after two years of research, Marston had completed shooting on his fictional story about a family entrenched in one of these blood feuds. "'What I found interesting was the way this ancient tradition still existed in a modern country,' says Marston, 41, as he drove to a shoot at a farmstead in the mountain-flanked plains outside the northern town of Shkoder. 'It is not so much the feuds themselves that the film focuses on, but the idea of being in forced isolation, and what that is like for a child.They can be stuck indoors because of this code of honor that is hundreds of years old, yet still be playing computer games and watching Big Brother on TV.'… Marston's film focuses on Mark, a village bread-delivery man whose rounds are interrupted one day when a neighbor, Sokol, blocks a shortcut through a field. Ownership of the field has been disputed ever since communist times, but suddenly flares up into a quarrel which culminates in Sokol's death. The exact rights and wrongs of the matter are never made clear; in this respect, Marston says, it mirrors many of the feuds he researched, which always proved far more complex than at first glance."

Un Mundo Misterioso (A Mysterious World), Argentina/Germany/Uruguay. By Rodrigo Moreno (The Custodian). With Esteban Bigliardi, Cecilia Rainero, Rosario Bléfari. World premiere. First, there's a blog, evidently. Second, using Google to translate the various synopses I've found so far, all I can say for certain is that Boris and Ana have been together for quite some time; they've been having problems; a Romanian car is always mentioned, so it may play an integral part in the story; the couple carries on trying to make their relationship work.

Unknown, Germany/Great Britain/France. By Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan). With Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz. International premiere / Out of Competition. The IMDb synopsis: "A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is." The site has a trailer.

V Subbotu (Innocent Saturday), Russia/Germany/Ukraine. By Aleksandr Mindadze (Soar). With Anton Shagin, Svetlana Smirnova-Martsinkievich, Stanislav Rjadinsky, Vjacheslav Petkun, Sergej Gromov. World premiere. In June, Ed Meza reported for Variety on this film about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe, "which occurred in the Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) after an explosion in one of the plant's reactors sent a plume of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over much of Europe. Pic follows a party official desperately searching for the woman he loves in order to escape the disaster."

"Also, the European premiere of Werner Herzog's 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams will be shown as a special screening in the Berlinale Palast. In all, three 3D films are to be presented in the Official Program." The other two are the Michel Ocelot mentioned above and Wim Wenders's Pina. And keep in mind, the first round of eight Competition titles are rounded up here.

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Finally The Turin Horse!
That’s the only director I’ve heard of (besides Herzog). I’m not familiar with the rest of these guys.
Very exited to see Farhadi back with a new one (and still wirggling around officials). I think there’s a cinema seat that still has the imprints of my hands from where I was clinging on during the kids in the water sequence from About Elly.
Lee Yoon-ki is a very good director, glad to see his new film in the competition.
The new Ocelot! How lovely :)

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