Berlin Film Festival 2020

After the departure of Dieter Kosslick, the long-standing artistic director of the Berlin Film Festival, this year’s 70th edition sees the arrival of Carlo Chatrian in his place. He’s joined by Mariette Rissenbeek, in the newly-created role of the festival’s managing director, although in truth, this year’s selection appears to be continuing the good work of a festival that favours finding platforms for new and diverse filmmaking voices.

Amongst those in competition is Britain’s Sally Potter – whose much-liked film The Party also bowed in Berlin. Her new film The Roads Not Taken is arguably her most star-driven yet, featuring Javier Bardem as a man who considers alternate pathways his life could’ve taken. Elle Fanning co-stars as his daughter, while Salma Hayek and Laura Linney complete an impressive cast.

Continuing a strong selection of female directors, American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy) is back with First Cow, based on the novel by Jonathan Raymond. The film (which actually premiered at Telluride last year) is a period tale set in Oregon, featuring John Magaro as a cook who ventures into the wilds and befriends a Chinese immigrant.

With Parasite recently winning the Best Picture Oscar, the festival programmers have also included a number of Korean films, including Hong Sang-soo’s latest, The Woman Who Ran, which stars Kim Minhee as a woman in Seoul who encounters three of her female friends whilst her husband is away on a business trip. Running at a brisk 77 minutes, expect it to be a minimalist take on the female inner life.

Away from the main competition, Berlin has been gaining a strong reputation for programming interesting television. This year, two episodes of The Eddy will be screened. Created by La La Land director Damian Chazelle, and written by the ubiquitous British screenwriter Jack Thorne, this drama set in a Parisian music venue stars André Holland and will be on Netflix later in the year.

Other specials include Hillary, a lengthy documentary portrait of the former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The film comes from Nanette Bernstein, who made the excellent The Kid Stays In The Picture about Hollywood showman Robert Evans. Here, Clinton – who will be gracing the red carpet – will unpack her life and her career in a wealth of detail.

While the Berlinale hasn’t always been in synch with Hollywood, this year will see the unveiling of Pixar’s latest adventure Onward, directed by Dan Scanlon, who previously worked on Monsters University. With a voice cast including Avengers stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, this tale of two elf brothers should at least sprinkle a little magic fairy dust on the red carpet.

The Berlin Film Festival runs until March 1st. For more details, visit here.

James Mottram

Lead Image: Still from The Roads Not Taken.