Berlin’s most famous festival, the Berlinale, is not intimidated by the Corona pandemic. Organizers say they will go ahead and let it go. Eighteen films are in competition for the most important awards.

Berlin, January 20, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — When we hike in the Rocky Mountains, we don’t really want to see bears. These grizzly bears look cute in photos, but scary when they’re standing right in front of you. In Berlin, things are different. Everyone wants to bring home a bear, but it has to be a gold or silver bear.

Promising suitors

Almost like the Canadian Rockies to the east, the Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec are a beautiful sight. This is exactly where ‘Unété comme ça’ (see main photo at the top of the page) was shot by Denis Côté. In Berlin, the Canadian filmmaker is not a beginner, since he has already participated in the Berlinale competition three times. Her film, whose English title is ‘That Kind of Summer’, features Larissa Corriveau, Laure Giappiconi and Aude Mathieu in the main roles. In ‘A Summer Like That’, three young women try to tame their intimate demons under the supervision of a German therapist.

The Mexican production “El norte sobre el vacío” is part of the “Panorama section” of the Berlinale.

This promising Canadian contribution, which will celebrate its world premiere at the Berlinale, is just one of 18 promising contenders for these Berlin Bears. The list also includes Yin Ru Chen Yan (“Return to Dust”) by Li Ruijun from China. United States of America’s ‘Call Jane’ is set to have its international premiere in the city of cities. Phyllis Nagy directed this film with Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Mara.

From Bremen to Guantánamo

“Call Jane” is set in 1968 Chicago. It tells the story of suburban housewife Joy whose pregnancy leads to a life-threatening illness. She finds ‘The Janes’, an organization of women who help her and change her life in the process. Since ‘Magnolia’ in the year 2000, no American film has won the Golden Bear in Berlin. Will it happen again this time? The odds are one in eighteen.

Will the Berlinale really take place, in Berlin, the German corona hotspot?

Many European co-productions are on the list of what the Berlinale calls “competition films”. Among them, ‘AEIOU – A Quick Alphabet of Love’ from Germany and France, ‘Alcarràs’ from Italy and Spain, ‘A Piece of Sky’, which is a German-Swiss cooperation project, and ‘The Line’, a Belgian-French -Swiss cinema. ‘Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush’, another German-French co-production, is about the mother of a young Turk from Bremen who was sent to Guantánamo Bay detention camp. His mother Rabiye Kurnaz is fighting for his release. At one point, she finds herself in the Supreme Court with her human rights lawyer who becomes a friend.

Berlinale vs Omicron

The people behind the Berlin Film Festival say they had “developed a new concept”, one that is supposed to protect people and culture from the other big bear known as Corona. Everything will be “a ‘2G Plus’ event”. It has nothing to do with G-forces or G-spots, but with the German language. ‘2G’ stands for “geimpft or genesen“, vaccinated or recovered, and the ‘plus’ indicates that masks and Corona tests are additionally required. People who have received reminders will probably not have to show the results of the Corona test.

Now that Berlin is recording the highest daily number of infections ever, the cinemas in which festival screenings take place will take up only half their seats. What the Berlinale sells as a thoughtful concept also applies to restaurants in Berlin and all other cultural venues. Will it be good enough? Berlinale directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian insist the festival will take place from February 10-20, 2022, despite Omicron. But not everyone is convinced.

the English version of the Berlinale website is accessible here.

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