Movies with a high popular impact and movies with arthouse rigor: as usual the Berlinale plays its cars carefully, above all keeping the former out of the competition – from the long- awaited film adaptation of the bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which will be premiered on February 11th (at the Berlinale Special Gala), to Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella”, the grandiose live action adaptation of the fairy tale, the 1951 Walt Disney animation of which conquered the Berlinale, winning the Audience Award and the Golden Bear for a musical.
Italy is in the competition with a debut work, “Sworn Virgin” by Laura Bispuri, produced by Marta Donzelli and Gregorio Paonessa of Vivo Film, along with Colorado Film, Rai Cinema and the Albanian Erafilm Production.
Filmed in Alto Adige with the support of the BLS, the movie is also co-produced with Switzerland (Bordcadre Films) and Germany (the foreign sales are being handled by Match Factory).
Isabel Coixet will open the competition on the evening of February 5th with “Nobody wants the Night” , a co-production by Spain,France and Bulgaria, set in Greenland in 1908. Coixet is a regular at the Berlinale, like many other directors competing for the Golden Bear this year, including Terrence Malick (the winner in 1999 with “The Thin Red Line”), who is bringing “Knight of Cups” starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman to Berlin; Werner Herzog, with his “Queen of the Desert”, featuring Nicole Kidman and James Franco; and Jafar Panahi with “Taxi”.
With two Golden Bears already under his belt, Andreas Dresen (“Nightshapes” 1999, “Grill Point” 2002), returns to the competition with “Als wir träumten” (“As We Were Dreaming”), a French-German co-production. Peter Greenaway, often a guest of the Forum section, is bringing “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” to the competition. Apart from Ms. Bispuri, the other debut work in competition for the Golden Bear is by Guatemalan Jayro Bustamante, which also marks Guatemala’s debut in the Competition.
There are various young Italian filmmakers in the fringe sections and many tributes to old masters of Italian cinema, like Francesco Rosi, who recently passed away, who the Berlinale will be remembering with a screening of “Many Wars Ago”, or Ermanno Olmi, the German premiere of whose movie “Greenery will Bloom Again”, will be presented at the Berlinale Special. In 2009 Olmi presented his documentary “Terra madre” at Berlin (also in the Berlinale Special), the brainchild of and ‘commissioned’ by the patron of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, another friend of the Berlinale who, this year, will also receive the Berlinale’s Camera award.
The promising young talents of the Italian movie industry will be in Generation, the Berlinale section dedicated to movies by up-and-coming directors that deal with teenage and young people’s issues, where we also find two important debuts: “Short Skin”, by Duccio Chiarini, and “Chlorine” by Lamberto Sanfelice.
The latter arrives freshly from Sundance, where he was in competition. Written by Sanfelice and Elisa Amoroso, the picture is produced by Ginevra Elkann’s Asmara Film with Damiano Ticconi’s Ang Film. “Short Skin” is produced by Chiarini himself (La Regle du Jeu) with Babak Jalali and the support of the Toscana Film Commission, and realized within the Biennale College (previously presented at the last Venice Film Festival), distributed in Italy by Good Films and already sold to other countries. Another young filmmaker is representing Italy in the Forum section, Francesco Clerici, with “Hand Gestures”, a documentary about the process of creating a sculpture by Velasco Vitali.
This year serial narratives will augment the Berlinale Special programme, and the kicking off events will be the Italian series 1992, a political thriller set against the backdrop of the “Mani Pulite”, created by Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi and Stefano Sardo and broadcasted by Sky.
There is also a bit of Italy, as co-producer, in Lola, the section that the Berlinale dedicates to movies pre-selected for the German Film Awards, with “The Cut” a film by Fatih Akin, (a co-production between Italy, France and Germany), and “The Special Need” by Carlo Zoratti, produced by Erika Barbiani (Videomante) and Henning Kamm (Detailfilm).
Italy’s presence is, however, mandatory in Culinary Cinema: amongst the movies that look into the relationship between food and cinema we find “La Ricotta” by Pier Paolo Pasolini, “When Italy ate in black and white” by Andrea Gropplero di Troppenburg and the documentary “Otello’s secret” by Francesco Ranieri Martinotti.