Berlin 2012: Berlinale preview

Earlier this week the programme was announced for this year’s 62nd Berlin Film Festival, revealing a strong lineup of features and shorts from established directors and up-and-coming talent. Grabbing most of the industry headlines will be the out of competition screenings of Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011), Declan Donnellan/Nick Ormerod’s Bel Ami (2012) and Stephen Daldry’s Oscar hopeful Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), as well as European premieres of new work from James Marsh, Kevin MacDonald and Billy Bob Thornton.

Traditionally the second major film festival of the year following Sundance, the Berlinale has built a fine reputation for promoting some of world cinema’s most promising directors. Only last year, the festival gave up its prestigious Golden Bear prize to Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama A Separation (2011), which has since gone on to receive wide-spread critical acclaim and is currently the front-runner for the 2012 Oscar for Best Film Not in the English Language.

This year, Daldry’s 9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close took many by surprise as it picked up two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (for Max von Sydow) despite lukewarm reaction for the film in the US. Perhaps a more likely politically-charged recipient would have been Jolie’s Bosnian War film In the Land of Blood and Honey which has impressed many for its fluid storytelling and suitably oppressive tone. Jolie’s ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton will also be in town (and in competition) with his latest feature Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012), a 1960s period piece starring Thornton, Robert Duvall, John Hurt and Kevin Bacon.

British hopefuls at this year’s Berlinale include James Marsh, who returns to fictional narrative filmmaking with Shadow Dancer (2012), starring Clive Owen, Gillian Anderson and the superb Andrea Riseborough. The film – set in 1950s Belfast – tells the story of active IRA member Mac (Owen) who becomes an informant for MI5, and was well-received upon its Sundance premiere. One filmmaker heading in the opposite direction is Kevin MacDonald, who follows up last year’s Roman epic The Eagle (2011) with Marley (2012), a documentary exploring the life and death of one of reggae music’s most recognisable icons. This year’s Berlinale will also be closed by a British production in the form of Guy de Maupassant adaptation Bel Ami, starring Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci.

There are a multitude of other hidden gems across the festival programme including Alison Klayman’s controversial documentary (in China at least) Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2011), Quan’an Wang’s Chinese blockbusting epic White Deer Plain (2011) and many more. A full list of all films competing in the competition section can be viewed below:

In Competition

A Royal Affair (dir. Nikolaj Arcel)
Aujourd’hui (dir. Alain Gomis)
Barbara (dir. Christian Petzold)
Caesar Must Die (dir. Paolo Taviani & Vittorio Taviani)
Captive (dir. Brillante Mendoza)
Childish Games (dir. Antonio Chavarrías)
Coming Home (dir. Frédéric Videau)
Farewell, My Queen (dir. Benoît Jacquot)
Home for the Weekend (dir. Hans-Christian Schmid)
Jayne Mansfield’s Car (dir. Billy Bob Thornton)
Just the Wind (dir. Benedek Fliegauf)
Mercy (dir. Matthias Glasner)
Meteora (dir. Spiros Stathoulopoulos)
Postcards from the Zoo (dir. Edwin)
Sister (dir. Ursula Meier)
Tabu (dir. Miguel Gomes)
War Witch (dir. Kim Nguyen)
White Deer Plain (dir. Wang Quan’an)

We’ll be reporting live from the Berlinale on 9-19 February, so stay tuned for all the latest reviews and news stories from this year’s 62nd Berlin Film Festival. For more info, visit

For more Berlin Film Festival 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.

Daniel Green