74th Berlinale: Competition

In Film & Series 12 February, 2024

Eva Peydró

Eva Peydró


The 74th Berlinale, the fifth and last to be directed by Mariette Rissenbeeck and Carlo Chatrian, will take place from 15 to 25 February. In their last edition, the directors set the bar for political commitment very high, after a declaration of principles carried out in practice, in the decision to withdraw the invitation to five members of the AfD, the far-right party with parliamentary representation, not to attend the official events of the festival. The controversy over their inclusion has ended in a backtracking, defended in these terms: The current discourse has once again made it very clear how much the commitment to a free, tolerant society and standing against right-wing extremism are part of the Berlinale’s DNA.

The festival, which has fourteen programs, not only attracts critics and industry – the EFM will take place from the 15th to the 21st – but also fills multiple theatres in Berlin with a very loyal audience. The opening of the event with Tim MielantsSmall Things Like This, starring Cillian Murphy, will be followed by 19 other films in the Official Competition, from directors such as Bruno Dumont, Abderrahmane Sissako, and Mati Diop. Except for one of the titles, all the films are world premieres, as Aaron Shimberg‘s A Different Man had its premiere at last year’s Sundance.

French director Olivier Assayas (a six-time Cannes winner) will compete for the first time in Berlin with Suspended Time, for which he wrote the screenplay and stars Vincent Macaigne and Nora Hamzawi, alongside Micha Lescot (Jeanne du Barry) and Nine D’Urso. The film is a post-Covid comedy about two couples who spend time in confinement together. For the sixth time since 2008, South Korea is presenting a film in competition, A Traveler’s Needs, a comedy by Hong Sangsoo which, as Chatrian indicated at the presentation conference, is light but sharp in its reflection of human relationships. Isabelle Huppert, the director’s third collaborator, will take the opportunity to personally collect the honorary Golden Bear awarded to her in 2022.

74ª Berlinale

Mariette Rissenbeeck and Carlo Chatrian present the program of the 74th Berlinale.

Sons, directed by Gustav Möller and co-written with Emil Nygaard Albertsen, is a Danish psychological thriller starring Sidse Babett Knudsen as Eva, an idealistic prison officer faced with a life dilemma. The cast is completed by Sebastian Bull, Dar Salim, Olaf Johannesen, and Marina Bouras. The dystopia comes from director Piero Messina and his second feature film, Another End, in which we find the couple formed by Gael García Bernal and Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person in the World). She has rented her body to a widower to be implanted with the memory and consciousness of his deceased wife. Mexico will also be present through director Alonso Ruizpalacios, who will screen The Kitchen, filmed entirely in the kitchen of a New York restaurant, starring Rooney Mara and Oded Fehr.

Anatomy of a Fall producer Marie-Ange Luciani brings Langue étrangère to the competition, directed by Caméra d’Or winner Claire Burger (A Thousand Nights, One Wedding), which tells a story of teenage friendship starring Lilith Grasmug, newcomer Josefa Heinsius, Nina Hoss and Chiara Mastroianni. France is also represented by Bruno Dumont with The Empire, a dystopian film starring Brandon Vlieghe, Lyna Khoudri, and Anamaria Vartolomei, as well as Mati Diop (winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes with Atlantique in 2019). The director’s second film, Dahomey, is a documentary about the recovery of three statues stolen a century ago in Benin. For his part, Mauritanian-born, naturalized Malian Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu) competes with Black Tea, a story of a runaway bride who leaves Côte d’Ivoire for Guangzhou, starring Nina Mélo and Chang Han.

74 Berlinale

From Hilde, With Love (Andreas Dresen, 2024)

The most unclassifiable film in the section, in Chatrian’s words, is the Dominican film Pepe, directed by Nelson Carlos de los Santos Arias (Cocote), which features a hippopotamus from Pablo Escolar’s private zoo, who becomes the narrator of the story. Matthias Glasner‘s Dying will be the German director’s third shot at the Golden Bear with a cast led by Lars Eidinger and will be up against another German film in competition, From Hilde, With Love, a historical drama by Andreas Dresen, starring Liv Lisa Fries (Babylon Berlin).

Victor Kossakovsky‘s documentary, Architecton, is a journey through the materials from which human dwellings are made: concrete and its predecessor, stone. This cinematic essay explores the fundamental question: How will we inhabit the world of tomorrow? Italian director, actress, and composer Margherita Vicario directs Gloria!, a period film set in 1800 in Venice, where a new musical invention arrives: “the pianoforte”. Also starring women and set in a historical period, in this case Austria in 1750, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala‘s The Devil’s Bath is by contrast a psychological tragedy, in which Agnes, a young married woman, feels like an outsider in her husband’s world, where a scandalous act seems to be her only way out. The film by the director of Goodnight Mommy (2014) and Ulrich Seidl‘s collaborator is based on historical court records.

74 Berlinale

Langue étrangère (Claire Burger, 2024).

Iranian directorial tandem Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha compete with My Favorite Cake, the story of 70-year-old Mahin, who lives alone in Tehran, until she decides to break out of her lonely routine and revitalize her love life. Tunisian director Meryam Joobeur, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2020 for her short film Ikhwène, will make her feature debut in Berlin with Who Do I Belong To, a rural drama set in a village in northern Tunisia where a young pregnant woman arrives. Similar themes are also addressed in Shambhala, a co-production of eight countries, including the US, Norway and Nepal, directed by Min Bahadur Bham and set in a polyandrous Himalayan village.

74 Berlinale

The Devil’s Bath (Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, 2024).

As last year, six films are directed or co-directed by women, and two films in competition mark the debut of their directors. The jury of the official section is chaired by the actress Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave, who will be joined by American director Brady Corbet, Hong Kong director Ann Hui, winner of the Berlinale Camera in 1997, multi-award-winning German director Christian Petzold, Albert Serra, Italian Jasmine Trinca, and Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko.

This is the complete selection of films in competition:

  • A Different Man (Aaron Schimberg)
  • A Traveler’s Needs (Hong Sangsoo)
  • Another End (Piero Messina)
  • Architecton (Victor Kossakovsky)
  • Black Tea (Abderrahmane Sissako)
  • Dahomey (Mati Diop)
  • From Hilde, With Love (Andreas Dresen)
  • Gloria! (Margherita Vicario)
  • La Cocina, (Alonso Ruizpalacios)
  • Langue étrangère (Claire Burger)
  • My Favourite Cake (Behtash Saneeha, Maryam Moghaddam)
  • Pepe (Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias)
  • Shambhala, (Min Bahadur Bham)
  • Small Things Like These (Tim Mielants)
  • Sons (Gustav Möller)
  • Sterben (Matthias Glasner)
  • Suspended Time (Olivier Assayas)
  • The Devil’s Bath (Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz)
  • The Empire (Bruno Dumont)
  • Who Do I Belong To (Meryam Joobeur)

More on the 74th Berlinale:

Small Things Like This abrirá la 74ª Berlinale.

74ª Berlinale, homenajes, clásicos y series.

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Maryam MoghaddamAbderramane SissakoNelson Carlos de los Santos Ariaslupita nyongoAlbert SerraAnn HuiLars EidingerVeronika FranzChristian Petzold74th BerlinaleBrady CorbetOksana ZabuzhkoJasmine Trinca

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