Becoming quite the grownup, the Achtung Berlin festival celebrates its 11th birthday with another week-long lineup of the cinematic fruits of Berlin and Brandenburg from April 15 to 22.
Some 80 films, from enigmatic shorts to unsettling documentaries and glossy dramas, enjoy their international, German or Berlin premiere at various cinemas across town. The festival finds its main roost in Mitte’s Kino Babylon but it’s at the sumptuous Kino International that festivities get off to a vigorous yet intimate start with Christian Moris Müller’s Lichtgestalten, in which a wealthy but disaffected Berlin couple decide to erase all trace of their lives and disappear, documenting their tender discontent in an evocative video diary.
Seismic life turning points and multifaceted identities continue throughout the 10-film feature competition. Anna Sofie Hartmann’s slow-burn, keen-eyed Limbo paints an inscrutable but engaging portrait of life in small-town Denmark, where a young student becomes fascinated by her enthusiastic female teacher.
Lighter but no less tumultuous is Julia C. Kaiser’s Das Floß, which throws a lesbian couple about to embark on marriage and motherhood into their respective “bachelor” parties, where both old flames and their intended sperm donor surface to reopen assorted wounds.
Despite its indie cred, the lineup doesn’t lack starpower. Benno Fürmann joins Florian Gottschick’s eerie Nachthelle as two couples with a tangled history take a walk down memory lane in their half-abandoned Heimat and find reminiscence far spookier than expected, while Frederick Lau’s football-loving thug sparks an escalating feud with a German-Turkish care home worker in Andreas Pieper’s Nachspielzeit.
The festival also opens its arms to a wealth of shorts and documentaries,including Das Gelände, Gerd Kroske’s 28-year chronicle of the Topographie des Terrors strip.
The jury awards ceremony take place on Tuesday, April 21 at Kino Babylon, with a showcase of the winners to follow on Wednesday, April 22 – look out for our very own Exberliner prize, which for the second year running will distinguish an exceptional work by an international filmmaker, or one that explores Berlin’s Weltstadt identity with particular deftness.
Hobnob with fellow film aficionados at the festival parties, the biggest held at Roadrunners Paradise on April 18.
Achtung Berlin, Apr 15-22 | Kino Babylon, Passage Neukölln, Tilsiter Lichtspiele and Filmtheater am Friedrichshain, full programme at www.achtungberlin.de
Originally published in issue #137, April 2015