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Reporting from Berlin on the 68th edition February 15 -25, 2018
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters bring you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives. WATCH OUR VIDEO COVERAGE TRAILERS INTERVIEWS AND AMBIANCE

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Berlinale Retrospective 2017: “Future Imperfect. Science · Fiction · Film”


The Retrospective of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival is dedicated to science fiction films, one of the most visual stunning and spectacular genres in the history of film. This year’s Retrospective will showcase imaginary worlds in an imperfect future, the way the science fiction genre has conceived of them since its beginnings, with a focus on two themes - the society of the future, and the strange and Other. A total of 27 international features, including classics, cult films, and largely unknown productions from places like Japan, as well as Central and Eastern Europe will make up the 2017 Retrospective.

“Science fiction is one of the most commercially successful film genres. The possible worlds on Earth or in space open up a vast scope for re-defining questions of collective visions and fears. So as a mirror for society’s public debates, science fiction films are enormously topical”, says Festival Director Dieter Kosslick.

The particular appeal of these films is that they provide us with a sensory experience of a distant future, although positive visions of that future tend to be the exception. The genre is dominated by depictions of dystopias that use pessimistic extrapolation to imbue contemporary issues with an explosive quality. The environmental dystopia portrayed in Soylent Green (dir: Richard Fleischer, USA 1973), for instance, is the result of over-population and environmental pollution. Using a muted colour palette, it depicts a world in which there is intense competition for water, food, and accommodations, and humans are recycled like trash. Central to the sci-fi genre are storylines dealing with totalitarian systems and omnipresent surveillance, such as in the first film version of George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 (dir: Michael Anderson, UK / USA 1956). Director George Lucas’ memorable vision of a technocratic future in THX 1138 (USA 1971) is a highly efficient and fully automated society, in which the emotions and free will of the individual are suppressed with medication. Another sub-genre are post-apocalyptic films where the Earth has become uninhabitable. In O-bi, o-ba: Koniec cywilizacji (O-bi, O-ba: The End of Civilization, dir: Piotr Szulkin, Poland 1985), the survivors of a nuclear holocaust have retreated to a life underground. When all civilized order has been annihilated, violence and chaos rule; but new forms of community also emerge.

Another ubiquitous theme in science fiction films is the alien or unknown Other. The genre is replete with scenarios that have humans coming into contact with extraterrestrial life forms, and ideas about what the aliens might look like and how they live. The Danish silent film Himmelskibet (A Trip to Mars) by Holger-Madsen premiered in 1918, making it one of the earliest science fiction films ever shot. It conjures up a very peaceful vision of a Mars expedition and the encounter with the life forms who live there. Other friendly-seeming alien races include the starfish-shaped extraterrestrials in Kōji Shima’s Uchūjin Tōkyō ni Arawaru (Warning from Space, Japan 1956) and the childlike creatures in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (USA 1977). The genre classic The War of the Worlds (dir: Byron Haskin, USA 1953), by contrast, is a perfect example of the threatening alien invasion from space storyline. But the Other can also surface within human society or even within the individual. Artificial intelligence, androids, and robots raise the issue of the difference between men and machines. That is explored in a gloomy, merciless manner in Marek Piestrak’s Test Pilota Pirxa (Pilot Pirx’s Inquest, Poland / USSR 1979).

“In selecting the films, we were inspired by the subject of our exhibition ‘Things to Come’. But the Retrospective takes a look at the history of the genre and shows imaginary worlds, including films from countries such as Denmark, Japan, Poland, and Czechoslovakia”, says Rainer Rother, head of the festival’s Retrospective section and artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek.

The exhibition “Things to Come. Science · Fiction · Film” has been on view at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen since June 2016 and will run parallel to the Retrospective. It also explores the intertwining of science and fiction and will remain open until April 23, 2017 at Filmhaus on Potsdamer Platz.

The publication accompanying the Retrospective will be released only in English for the first time. The richly-illustrated volume published by the Bertz + Fischer house will feature essays by renowned international authors, who delve into science fiction film within the context of their national cinema.

For the second time this year, the film Retrospective will be rounded out with a special presentation in the television mediathek of the Deutsche Kinemathek, showcasing the intensity, with which German television has been exploring the subject of the future for decades. 

The Deutsche Kinemathek will also host numerous events to complement the Retrospective.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, has been a Retrospective partner since 2011. In the summer of 2017, MoMA will present a related and extended exhibition of science fiction films, organised by Joshua Siegel, MoMA Curator of Film. 



About Berlin

Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2016: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Ole Schulz Lia Fietz, Aida Amasuno Martin, Martin Petrov and Bruno Chatelin...
Ambiance, film reviews, trailers and podcasts, EFM insider information, and much more.
Feel free to leave us your comments and share the blogs with more fans from the festivals scene.


October 30, 2015 Deadline for film entries for the festival (feature length films)
November 17, 2015 Deadline for film entries for the festival (short films)
January 6, 2016 Application deadline for accreditations
February 2, 2016 Programme Press Conference at the "Federal Press and Information Office"; access with invitation only
February 11, 2016 Opening Ceremony of the
66th Berlin International Film Festival
February 11-19, 2016 European Film Market
February 13-18, 2016 Berlinale Talents
February 14-16, 2016 Berlinale Co-Production Market
February 20, 2016 Closing & Award Ceremony of the
66th Berlin International Film Festival
February 21, 2016 Berlinale Publikumstag




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