The 2019 Berlin International Film Festival, generally known as the Berlinale, runs from 7 to 17 February, with a packed programme of screenings competing for a series of prizes. It is one of the top three film festivals, along with the Venice Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Its focal point is Berlinale Palast near Potsdamer Platz, and screenings take place in a number of venues, such as the CinemaxX, Cinestar within the Sony Center, Deutsche Kinematheke, Arsenal, and Friedrichstadt Palast, one of the largest theatres in Europe with a stage covering almost 3,000 square metres and space for 1,895 spectators. The prizes comprise a variety of bears: the Golden Bear and Silver Bears awarded by the International Jury, and the Crystal Bear, for films in the Generation category, for which the jury consists of 11 children and 7 adolescents. Berlinale Camera is awarded to personalities and institutions, and the Teddy Award is considered the most important award for LGBT films.
Film highlights at the 2019 Berlinale
The films taking part this year are, as is always the case for the Berlinale, highly varied. One significant feature is that 7 of the 17 films in the running for the Golden Bear were directed by women. For example, The Kindness of Strangers, the opening film, was directed by Lone Scherfig from Denmark, and it is set in New York, starting Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim and Bill Nighy. Mr Jones is by Agnieszka Holland from Poland, and Elisa y Marcela is one of the favourites, by Catalan director Isabel Coixet. Another strong runner is The Golden Glove, a true-life crime story set in Hamburg and directed by Fatih Akin, who won the Golden Bear in 2004 with Head-On. Other highlights include By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu) by François Ozon, Ghost Town Anthology (Répertoire des villes disparues) by Canadian director Denis Côté, and One Second by Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Italy’s Claudio Giovannesi makes his competition debut with Piranhas (La paranza dei bambini), a film based on the eponymous book by Roberto Saviano, set in the Rione Sanità district of Naples narrating the acts of a gang of 15-year-old boys attempting to take control of their quarter through weapons and drugs dealing.
A brief history of the Berlinale
The Berlin International Film Festival was founded in 1951, and in those Cold War years it was deliberately intended as a “showcase of the free world.” It now has a privileged status as a platform for exploring social issues and it is perhaps the most politically-charged of all the major film festivals. It has a reputation for the discovery of new talents and for being a driver of innovation. Its programme, generally featuring about 400 films, is accompanied by intense audience participation, with many discussions and panel debates at which the public can voice their opinions. The festival has a strong business focus with the European Film Market, an international film marketplace.
Tickets are on sale from Monday 4 February, and they are always available 3 days in advance of the screening, online at https://www.berlinale.de. Tickets can be delivered as mobile tickets on mobile phones or tablets, or printed at home. For some screenings, tickets can be purchased direct at a number of venues; some of these may be cash-only. Prices range from €5 to €16. Further information is available from the Ticket Office, tel. +49 30 259 20 259.
Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
Potsdamer Platz 11
Boggi Milano in Berlin
Kurfurstendamm 195/196 – Bleibtreustrasse 22/23
Tel. +49 30 889 217 30
Open Monday-Saturday 10am-7.30pm, Sunday 1pm-6pm