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Film

Berlinale picks: 12 movies worth your time at this year’s festival

With the Berlinale almost here, we put together a list of 12 movies worth queuing up for this year.

Small Things Like These

Photo: © Shane O’Connor

Opening the festival with this memorable headliner, the Irish-Belgian production oozes an all-star cast, with Cillian Murphy playing the role of a devoted father and coal merchant in a small Irish town. A quiet yet powerful film, it portrays the disturbing cruelties that took place in the Magdalen laundries run by Roman Catholic institutions during the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Small Things Like These Directed by Tim Mielants

A Traveller’s Needs

Photo: © 2024 Jeonwonsa Film Co.

Hong-Sang-Soo returns to the Berlinale with his seventh selection since 2020 to compete for the golden bear. Starring much-loved film icon Isabelle Huppert, it revolves around a woman who teaches French and relies on makkeolli for comfort. Yet another poignant and slow-moving portrait of human relationships.

  • A Traveller’s Needs– Directed by Hong-Sang-Soo

Suspended Time

Photo: © Carole Bethuel

A well overdue COVID-era comedy, the story follows a pair of siblings and their partners as they spend lockdown confined to the parameters of their childhood home. Tensions arise and doubt settles in as the outside world begins to look increasingly disturbing and surreal.

  • Suspended Time – Directed by Olivier Assayas

La Cocina

Photo: © Juan Pablo Ramírez / Filmadora

Taking place over one day in a Times Square kitchen, this film is perhaps a tribute to the workers (those seemingly invisible individuals) who prepare our food everyday. Money has gone missing from the till and all the employees are deemed suspects until the person responsible is found, but a series of discoveries leads to an act that will stop production indefinitely.

  • La Cocina – Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios

In Praise of Slowness

Photo: © Hicham Gardaf

A meditative look at the effects of capitalism, this visually striking film seeks to examine modes of resistance through the lens of its protagonist, a bleach salesman in Tangier, and his vanishing world of trade.

  • In Praise of Slowness – Directed by Hicham Gardaf

Made In England: The Films of Powell & Pressburger

Photo: © 2024 P & P Film Limited & British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved

An artful weaving together of archival footage to create a cohesive and textured work, this documentary, narrated by Martin Scorsese, unpacks the creative relationship between the legendary duo of Powell and Pressburger, who made such iconic films as The Red Shoes (1948) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946). The film celebrates their subversiveness and unpacks the deep influence on Scorsese’s own output.

  • Made In England: The Films of Powell & Pressburger – Directed by David Hinton

Dahomey

Photo: © Les Films du Bal – Fanta Sy

A masterful blend of fact and fiction, this story attempts to shine a light on the 26 royal artefacts that were stolen from the Kingdom of Dahomey by the French colonial troops in 1892, which were then restituted to Benin, their country of origin, in 2021. Scored by Wally Badarou and Dean Blunt, the documentary adopts a densely stylised form to give voice to the demands of a new generation.

  • Dahomey – Directed by Mati Diop

Cuckoo

Photo: © NEON

Starring ‘Euphoria’ protagonist, Hunter Schafer, this German-American horror flick isn’t for the light-hearted. Conspiracies are unveiled in a small resort town within the German Alps where dark secrets that have lasted for generations begin to show themselves.

  • Cuckoo – Directed by Tilman Singer

Spaceman

Photo: Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

When you notice Adam Sandler rocking a beard, you know you’re strapping in for a serious ride. Another Netflix production making its debut at this year’s festival, this science-fiction drama narrates the story of a lonely space astronaut on a mission to save his failing relationship, becoming desperate enough to enlist the help of an alien being he meets along the way.

  • Spaceman – Directed by Johan Renck

Treasure

Photo: © Anne Wilk

A powerful and poetic film that follows a New York businesswoman, played by Lena Dunham, and her father, a Holocaust survivor played by Stephen Fry, back to Poland to confront their family’s complex past. We watch as they grow closer together while traveling through post-socialist Poland.

  • Treasure – Directed by Julia von Heinz

Architecton

© 2024 Ma.ja.de. Filmproduktions GmbH, Point du Jour, Les Films du Balibari

Described as “an epic, intimate and poetic meditation on architecture and how the design and construction of buildings from the ancient past reveal our destruction”, this documentary is bound to spark interest this year as it competes for the golden bear. Kossakovsky captures stunning imagery from the temple ruins in Lebanon dating back to AD 60 and places it alongside videos of the destruction of cities in Turkey following an earthquake in early 2023.

  • Architecton – Directed by Viktor Kossakovsky

Sasquatch Sunset

Photo: © Sasquatch Sunday

This surreal and arresting American film is about a family that has taken refuge from humanity in the North American wilderness. Starring the indie-favourite Jesse Eisenberg and his co-star Riley Keough, it is already being considered the Zellner brothers’ finest work.

  • Sasquatch Sunset – Directed by David and Nathan Zellner