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This week at the kino: Festival season is here

September is the standout month for film festivals in Berlin, so our film editor has written a guide help movie geeks through this busy period. From the Jewish Film Festival to Queerfilmfest, here’s what to expect.

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Talking About Trees is one of the highlights at this year’s Arab Film Festival. Photo: ALFILM Festival

It’s a slow week for new releases, with the only notable ones being the release of Mulan on the Disney+ streaming service tomorrow and Corpus Christi, which recently opened the Polish Film Festival last week. It premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and is a terrific drama about a reformed criminal who is prevented from applying to the seminary after his release; he decides to dress as a priest and ministers a small-town parish. As for Mulan, we’re bound by embargo to not publish a review today. Let’s just say it’s fine – a minor crop above the recent slew of live-action Disney adaptations, but paying an extra fee on top of a Disney+ subscription to watch it is taking the proverbial piss.

Mulan has become the anti-Tenet in the battle for viewers: will punters head back to the kinos or will they prefer to watch films from the comfort of their own homes? Recent reports suggest that the latter option may be winning, but Christopher Nolan’s latest high-concept head-scratcher has gotten off to a rather solid start, all things considered, so fingers crossed theatres might yet get the upper hand. Our main tip for this week is to catch up on previous releases like the excellent Exil and Kokon, the mixed-but-memorable Yalda, and of course, the aforementioned Tenet, which is showing on pretty much all the screens. It’s worth the trip to the theatre, even if its already mixed appeal does severely diminish after a second viewing.

September is the month for film festivals in Berlin. They’re making up for lost time, even if some favourites like Down Under and, ironically, Favourites, are not chancing it this year. Maybe for the best, considering the crowded field…

The 11th edition of ALFILM – the Arab Film Festival – started two days ago. This 11th edition is an especially strong one and we strongly recommend you check out our festival preview to find out which films are worth checking out. (Freedom Fields tomorrow at 8pm at Arsenal and Talking About Trees on Saturday at 9.15pm, also at Arsenal, are must-sees.)

The Jewish Film Festival (JFBB) is about to kick off (until September 13th), under the title Jews With Many Views. This year’s edition is a hybrid of sorts, as the programme offers both online and theatre screenings in several cinemas across the city. It starts with the premiere of Israel’s 2020 Oscar candidate, Incitement, on the 6th at 7.30pm at City Kino Wedding. It’s a tense drama by Yaron Zilberman which chronicles the year leading towards the assassination attempt on Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from the perspective of a young student who turns from activist to assassin. Keep your eyes peeled for our full festival preview, which goes online tomorrow.

Like many festivals, Queerfilmfest – which runs until next week (9th) – is taking place on both big and small screens. They’re foregoing the usual personal introductions and live conversations with the filmmakers, highlighting instead exclusive content online, like their retrospective section, interviews, and panels with directors. Make sure to check out their lineup. Lastly on the festival front (for this week at least), is POOL Internationales TanzFilmFestival (September 9th – 12th). They have decided that their festival will happen in a physical capacity at DOCK 11 & Zionskirche, with this 14th edition presenting a three-evening selection of dance film shorts from all over the world that’s well worth your time.

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In light of Chadwick Boseman’s recent death, the 2019 blockbuster Black Panther is showing at Babylon Kreuzberg every night this week. Photo: Marvel

Elsewhere, freiluftkino season is drawing to an end for this strange season, so make sure to book a few tickets while you still can. There’s the screening of HipBeat – Love Is Revolution tonight at Zukunft / Freiluftkino Pompeji (9pm). Written, directed by and starring Samuel Kay Forrest, HipBeat is an empowering debut that follows a young man searching for his identity in Berlin, a journey of self-discovery that takes him from anarchy to embracing love within the LGBTQ+ community, with the help of an encounter with a drag queen. We recently interviewed the director of this deeply compassionate film, who talked to us about making a love letter to Berlin, questioning the status quo and doing justice to Berlin’s multifaceted nature.

Other hot open-air tickets include Freiluftkino Kreuzberg’s evening of short films, Short Rides, as part of the Seret Film Festival (tomorrow evening at 9.15pm, with English subs), their closing screening of Hitchcock’s The Birds on Sunday (8pm), and Freiluftkino Hasenheide’s double helping of recent German heavy hitters Undine (tomorrow at 8pm, with English subs) and last year’s System Crasher (September 9th, 8pm, with English subs). There’s also Mobile Kino’s Saturday showing of Mathieu Kassovitz’s seminal 1995 crime drama La Haine (Alte Münze, 8.30pm, with English subs), which is worth revisiting.

Also of note is Babylon Kino’s Wenders 75! programme, which celebrates… you’ve probably guessed who. They’re screening Paris, Texas tonight, Saturday and next Wednesday at 9.30pm, 8pm and 7.30pm respectively, as well as Wings of Desire and Buena Vista Social Club. Head to their website for all the times and don’t miss out. On a less cheery note – but also celebrating the life of an already much-missed artist – is Babylon Kreuzberg’s reprogramming of Black Panther in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death. One of Marvel’s strongest outings is screening every evening for the next week at 8:45pm.

Finally, as a not-so-small bonus, we’re currently on the Lido in Venice for the 77th socially-distanced edition of the festival, which started yesterday. It’s the first major film fest to open its doors since lockdown, so keep your peepers peeled for news, updates, and roundups of which films are likely to knock moviegoers’ socks off in the coming months…

That’s it from us this week. Keep supporting your neighbourhood kinos, wear your masks, and passa un buon fine settimana!