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This week at the kino: Rebels, Popes and whistleblowers!

Catch Anthony Hopkins in "The Two Popes", Cannes closer "Hors Normes", "Beauty & Decay" featuring three East Berlin punk rebels, Chelsea Manning doc "XY Chelsea", the Lesbian Non-Binary FilmFest, and more happening in the Berlin film world this week.

Image for This week at the kino: Rebels, Popes and whistleblowers!

Photo courtesy of Lichtblick Kino. Catch XY Chelsea at Lichtblick Kino as part of One World Berlin on Dec 10 at 20:00.

Out in cinemas today is the limited release of Netflix’s The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, as well as this year’s Cannes closer, Hors Normes, from the filmmakers behind 2011’s breakaway French hit Intouchables. Both are well worth your time. Also out is Annekatrin Hendel’s documentary Schönheit & Vergänglichkeit (Beauty & Decay), which focuses on three Berlin rebels – Sven Marquardt, Dominique “Dome” Hollenstein and Robert Paris – recollecting their youth in the East Berlin punk scene of the 1980s. Far from another nostalgia trip, this feels like something refreshingly different. On a lesser note, there’s the release of Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day In New York, a pedantically written story of silver-spoon kids that is worth ignoring. 

There’s also plenty going on festival-wise, so diaries and pens out:

The ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival starts today (through Dec 8): the House of Poetry in cooperation with the Kino in der KulturBrauerei host a series of short films based on poetry, offering poets and filmmakers a platform for creative exchanges. This year’s edition focuses on the UK, and the “very British” programme opens with the German premiere of We Are Poets (Dec 6 at 17:00), a doc about six young poets from Leeds who compete in a poetry slam competition in Washington DC. Also on our radar is the Grandmother Film Festival (Dec 6-8). The festival screens films (shorts, long-form, animated) about… you guessed it… grandmothers. It not only boasts a fantastic concept but also several Q&A sessions after the screenings. For its second edition, the programme features 24 films (long and short, all with English subs), screened over the course of three days, opening on Friday at 19:00 with the live video performance of Mountain of the Strong, Proud Women by Hanna Wildow, followed by Balint Revesz’s Granny Project.

There’s the start of the Berlin Lesbian Non-Binary Filmfest (Dec 7-8), which aims to create a space of cultural exchange within Berlin’s diverse non-heterosexual scene. For its second edition, the BLN will hold screenings at Sputnik Kino; the programme starts with the winner of this year’s LA’s OUTfest, Saint Frances (19:15), about a lesbian rainbow family, and also features 2019’s best film, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, screening on Saturday at 12:30. 

There’s also the screening of XY Chelsea on Tuesday (Dec 10) at 20:00 at Lichtblick Kino. The British doc by Tim Travers Hawkins screens as part of the new monthly series of documentaries on civil and human rights, organised by the Humanist Union, One World Berlin Human Rights Festival and Lichtblick Kino. XY Chelsea looks at the life of Chelsea Manning, the infamous trans woman soldier who was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence for leaking top-secret information about the US’ involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The screening is followed up with a moderation by journalist and member of the Humanist Union Berlin-Brandenburg, Axel Bussmer. 

Lastly, don’t miss the start of the Kenji Mizoguchi retrospective at Arsenal (Dec 6 through Jan 31). As vital a filmmaker as Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, Mizoguchi is best known for his historical melodramas and his stunning minute long-plan sequences. Arsenal are screening 22 films from the great Japanese director, all with English subs.

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