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The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from Thu, Feb 16, 2023 - Sun, Feb 26, 2023
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters brings 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   PHOTOS

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The Golden Age of Documentaries

Friday, February 16----Much has been written about the "golden age of documentaries" that we suddenly and fortunately are currently immersed in. Perhaps it is a response to a violent and confusing world to which we are looking to bring knowledge, healing and understanding. Aside from aesthetic considerations, the documentary has also proven to be a highly profitable item for distributors, with such films as FAHRENHEIT 911, MARCH OF THE PENGUINS and this year's AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH taking in serious coin in North America and beyond.

Well, the documentary is dazzingly alive and well in the Panorama Dokumente section, which this year is boasting a record number of 17 non-fiction films f (including 12 world premieres) from around the world. In some ways, the Panorama Dokumente is almost its own mini-festival, in bringing the output of so many talented filmmakers from all over the world to a host of subjects that touch on both worldly and personal concerns.

Andy WarholAndy WarholThe opening film set the tone: STRANGE CULTURE by celebrated American film essayist Lynn Hershman Leeson documents the extremely paranoid reaction of US security authorities in the case of Steve Kurtz, a biogenetics professor, who is suspected of terrorism. Tilda Swinton and Thomas Jay Ryan play Kurtz and his wife, while Kurtz himself recounts his harrowing experiences with the FBI.  In American documentary filmmaker Ric Burns' four-hour-long work ANDY WARHOL:  A DOCUMENTARY FILM, such famous Warhol acolytes as Dennis Hopper, Bob Dylan, Salvador Dalí, Edie Sedgwick, Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn, among others, speak about the artist. The film, which was received with great success in the US a few months ago, is narrated by Laurie Anderson and features artist Jeff Koons as the voice of Warhol. Another American documentary making its mark this year is THIS FILTHY WORLD, directed by Jeff Garlin, in which cult director John Waters gives a classically off-kilter lecture on his own oeuvre and American film history in general.

French director Olivier Meyrou, who won the Teddy Award in 2006 with AU-DELA DE LA HAINE, returns to the Panorama with his newest film CELEBRATION, which gives viewers a glimpse of the creative world of fashion mogul Yves Saint Laurent,. As a wonderful companion film, Rodolphe Marconi takes an intimate look at the legendary Karl Lagerfeld, the creative force behind Chanel, in his film LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIEL

Karl LagerfeldKarl Lagerfeld

Music is a potent theme in many of the films. In German director Uli M. Schueppel’s BERLINSONG, young musicians from all over the world come together in Berlin, drawn by the city’s creative atmosphere and an Music is another strong theme in this year's program. In Uli M. Schueppel’s BERLINSONG, young musicians from all over the world come together in Berlin, drawn by the city’s creative atmosphere and alternative lifestyle . With TAMARA, director Peter Kahane not only presents a remarkable period in the history of East German rock, but also tells the inspring if sad story of rock legend Tamara Danz, who in later life must deal with a fatal illness. In American director Stephen Kijak's SCOTT WALKER--30 CENTURY MAN, the under-appreciated singer/songwriter is celebrated as a pioneer and a mentor by such legendary fans as David Bowie (who produced the film), Brian Eno and Marc Almond. Finally, DE ROTE ELVIS (The Red Elvis) by Leopold Grün tells the extraordinary story of American singer and entertainer Dean Reed, who after success in socialistically-minded Latin America, moved to East Germany in 1973 and achieved rock-n-roll stardom there.
     World politics remain a potent theme. In Daniel Gordon’s CROSSING THE LINE, four American soldiers, stationed as peacekeepers at the border between North and South Korea in 1962, independently from one another, defected to North Korea. This fascinating film uncovers the former soldiers' motives and how are they doing today. Set against the Siberian Gulag UF91-9, Maria Yatskova portrays three women whose will remained unbroken in the powerful film MISS GULAG. In another Russian theme, director Vladimir Ivanov points his camera lens on a brutal attack on homosexuals in Moscow that made international headlines, in the eye-opening film MOSKVA: PRIDE 06.
Gus Van SantGus Van SantOf course, the Panorama is well-known for its leadership role in supporting gay and lesbian cinema (their sponsored event, the Teddy Awards, has become the Berlin Film Festival's hottest ticket). This year's LGBT documentary films include: FUCKING DIFFERENT NEW YORK, a companion film to last year's Berlin-based SOMETHING DIFFERENT, with views of the lives of gays, lesbians and transgenders in New York, by such celebrated indie filmmakers as Steve Gallagher, Todd Verow, Barbara Hammer and Abigail Child. The history of queer film is the central theme of André Schäfer’s SCHAU MIR IN DIE AUGEN KLEINER, which features interviews with Stephen Frears, Gus Van Sant, Tilda Swinton and François Ozon.
   Last but not least, INVISIBLES is a multi-part film focusing on the "silent sufferings" of the Third World, illuminated by such directorial talents as Isabel Coixet, Fernando León de Aranoa, Mariano Barroso, Javier Corcuera and Wim Wenders. The subjects covered include displacement in South America, recruitment of children soldiers in Africa, and the pharmaceutical industry's control over health care options for poor people around the world. The film was produced by Spanish film star and Oscar nominee Javier Bardem.
Sandy Mandelberger, Berlin Online Dailies Editor

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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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