Achtung Berlin returns on April 9 and runs through April 16.
Now in its 10th year, hometown film festival Achtung Berlin returns bigger than ever, with six cinemas screening over 100 films shot or produced in or around Berlin and Brandenburg, most in English or with English subs. This year’s selection bears witness to the city’s film industry, its cosmopolitanism and – with the introduction of the brand-new Exberliner Film Award – its role as an international metropolis.
Opening April 9 with a grand reception at Kino International, the fest hits the ground running with Berlin-produced feature Männer zeigen Filme und Frauen ihre Brüste (Men show movies and women their breasts). Combining guerrilla documentary filmmaking and fiction, the film follows director Isabell Šuba (as portrayed by actress Anne Haug) and producer David Wendtland as they pitch a “western comedy” at Cannes. Elsewhere in the features category, Vergrabene Stimmen (Buried Voices) tells the story of a young German/Arabic Berliner coming to terms with his disadvantaged Kreuzberg upbringing as bizarre, violent and erotic interludes tear at the fabric of his life.
Themes of intercultural exchange surface in two compelling medium-length entries. Couchmovie follows five couchsurfers in four different European cities as each finds an unexpected rapport with their host, while in Performance, an international array of young creatives collaborate on an experimental theatre piece while navigating fractured love lives, low-wage jobs and visa problems.
The six candidates for the Exberliner prize (awarded to a work by an international Berlin-based director or one that explores Berlin as a Weltstadt) are as diverse as the city is. Schwarzer Panther, directed by Swiss-born brothers Bernhard and Martin Koch, fuses elements of social realism with the surreal to tell the tale of a fractured relationship against a stunning Alpine backdrop. Documentary Welcome, Goodbye examines the changing face of Berlin through a series of often-charming vignettes between protagonist Christian Bormann and a range of ‘tourists’. In contrast, the enthralling yet endurance-testing The Visitor features harsh, poetic encounters between director Katarina Schröter and strangers in Shanghai, Mumbai and São Paulo. And The Silence Between Two Songs (a short by Portuguese Berliner Mónica Lima), a brother and sister’s erotically charged relationship is pulled apart over their disagreement about whether to stay in Berlin or return to Lisbon.
It all culminates in the awards ceremony on April 16, at which our jury, headed by director Matthias Luthardt, will present Exberliner’s top pick. Before that, come to our awards party on April 10, where you can mingle with the film-loving internationals who call Berlin home.
ACHTUNG BERLIN, Apr 9-16 | Various venues throughout Berlin, full programme at www.achtungberlin.de