By Bee Garner
This week sees the Berlin film festival kick-off with six of its 18 competition films boasting a credited female director, representing a 33% proportion, compared with Cannes last year with 19% and Venice with 9%. Although six films isn’t an even split, it is still an improvement in the right direction. So, what are these six films and which ones are we most keen to catch at the festival?
“The Roads Not Taken“
Director: Sally Potter
Runtime: 85 Minutes
It’s great to see Sally Potter back with another highly anticipated film which will be in competition at this year’s festival. Her last film “The Party” was in competition for Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival back in 2017.
“The Roads Not Taken” follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning), as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived. Molly also has to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future. Both Salma Hayek and Laura Linney costar alongside Bardem and Fanning. The film takes its title from the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, and judging from the film’s trailer, this is set to be a mind-bending film full of emotional punches. The film is produced by Christopher Sheppard, with cinematography by Robbie Ryan. Potter has had success before at Berlinale, so her chances are high.
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always“
Director: Eliza Hittman
Runtime: 101 Minutes
A teenage girl (Sidney Flanigan) in rural Pennsylvania hops on a Greyhound bus with her cousin (Talia Ryder) and goes on a long, expensive and distressing pilgrimage to New York City to find an abortion clinic. Since debuting at this year’s Sundance, Eliza Hittman’s film has been garnering a lot of buzz. Hittman has been on everybody’s radar since the release of her second film “Beach Rats” which was arguably one of the best films of 2017. After gaining lots of critical praise from Sundance, it’s possible that Hittman may score big here at Berlin.
“El prófugo (The Intruder)“
Director: Natalia Meta
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Described as a “psycho-sexual fantastic thriller.” Natalia Meta’s “The Intruder” is an Argentine thriller which looks to be a disturbing portrayal of a woman’s descent into madness. The film’s narrative follows Inés works a dubbing actress who sings in a choir in Buenos Aires. After a traumatic experience during a holiday trip, she develops a sleep disorder and starts suffering from very vivid nightmares. Slowly, Inés becomes paranoid as she has increasing trouble telling what is real from what is not. Starring “Wild Tales” actress Erica Rivas, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Cecilia Roth and Daniel Hendler this is definitely one film not to be missed at this year’s festival.
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Runtime: 121 Minutes
We’re huge fans of Kelly Reichardt’s work, so we’re very eager to seek out her latest film “First Cow” which had its premiere at last year’s Telluride Film Festival. Reichardt co-wrote the screenplay with Jonathan Raymond (the film is based on Raymond’s book “The Half Life”) and this is Reichardt’s first film from 2016’s “Certain Women”.
Set in the early part of the nineteenth century, the film follows loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) who has travelled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds a true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) who is also seeking his fortune. The two of them decide to collaborate on a successful business which happens to involve a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. “First Cow” has received critical praise so Reichardt chances of winning the Gold Bear are high.
“Schwesterlein” (My Little Sister)
Directors: Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Not one but two female filmmakers! Swiss filmmakers Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond met each other at school. The filmmaking duo has made several documentaries together since 2004 and their debut feature “La petite Chambre” represented Switzerland at the 2011 Oscars. Their recent film has been selected to compete for the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
The film follows Lisa (Nina Hoss) who has bid goodbye to her ambitions as a playwright and the Berlin arts scene and now lives in Switzerland with her husband, who runs an international school. When her twin brother Sven (Lars Eidinger) falls ill, she returns to Berlin. This drama is set to focus on exploring the complexities of an adult sibling relationship.
Runtime: 146 Minutes
Co-directors Ilya Khrzhanovskiy and