The Berlin Festival is gradually revealing its programme, with Jeremy Irons recently announced as President of the Jury for the Official Competition, which will be announced at the end of the month.
Big news today is that two Australian entries will figure prominently in the series programme, which has the overall theme of “Dare to be seen, own your story, give sex a chance and stay true to your unique, unapologetic style.”
Most star-studded is the ABC’s Stateless, which focuses on Australia’s controversial response to the world’s refugee crisis. Co-created by Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie and Tony Ayres, it stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie and Blanchett. Emma Freeman (Glitch, Offspring) and Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker) each direct three of the series’ six episodes.
The BLURB reads: Escape, disappear, start over. Behind barbed wire in the Australian desert, the world comes together in a dramatic way for four very different people. Is home a place? Or a trauma? What if you’re not even in the position to dream about it?
Then there’s the ABC’s six-episode second season of Mystery Road created by Ivan Sen and directed by Warwick Thornton and Wayne Blair. The ever-wonderful Aaron Pedersen reprises his detective role from Sen’s 2013 movie and the first 2018 series and he stars alongside Jada Alberts, Sofia Helin and Callan Mulvey.
BLURB: A headless corpse is found floating by the shore in a remote outback town. As if this weren’t mysterious enough, Detective Swan and his colleague Fran have to contend with protests against the excavation of an Indigenous site. And then another body turns up.
US drama series Dispatches from Elsewhere also features, created by Jason Segel, who has been writing futuristic novels with the Otherworld series, which undoubtedly influences this new series. Segel stars alongside Eve Lindley, Sally Field, André Benjamin and Richard E. Grant. Australians Alethea Jones and Ariel Kleiman direct 1 episode each.
BLURB: An enigmatic institute promises the chosen few an escape from everyday life into a world full of beauty and magic. But is this a game, an alternative reality or a conspiracy? And what are Peter, Simone, Janice and Fredwynne risking?
Netflix has The Eddy, an eight-episode series created by La La Land director Damien Chazelle who continues his passion for music. Chazelle, Houda Benyamina, Laila Marrakchi and Alan Poul direct two episodes each and it stars André Holland (Moonlight), Joanna Kulig (Cold War), Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet).
BLURB: Bandleader Elliot is improvising his way through a complex score of problems: his Parisian jazz club ‘The Eddy’ isn’t doing too well. Ruthless debt collectors are breathing down his neck. And then his teenage daughter Julie arrives from New York.
Then there’s the headline-grabbing six-episode Danish series Sex created by Clara Mendes, directed by Amalie Næsby Fick and starring Asta Kamma August (daughter of Bille and Pernilla), Jonathan Bergholdt Jørgensen, Nina Terese Rask and Sara Fanta Traore.
BLURB: At the call centre, Cathrine gives advice on sex and love, but is herself at a loss. After a kiss, she wants more from her colleague Selma. Her boyfriend Simon feels that what’s little is actually plenty. But what if that’s not enough?
*Trigonometry, following a love triangle among a group of friends living in London. and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg, Chevalier) for the BBC and HBO
*Francois Letourneau’s French-language Happily Married from Canada .
*Marvin Kren’s Freud, about a young and troubled Sigmund Freud in Vienna in 1886.
Three Australian projects have been selected for the Market Screenings Programme: Total Control from creators Darren Dale, Miranda Dear, Rachel Griffiths and Stuart Page, directed by Rachel Perkins; The Hunting by Sophie Hyde and Matthew Cormack; as well as Mystery Road 2.
More films have been added to the Berlinale Special line-up, which already comprises Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio starring Roberto Benigni.
*The world premiere of the UK production Minamata starring Johnny Depp. Can the troubled star resurrect his career with his portrayal of war photographer William Eugene Smith as he travels back to Japan to document the effects of mercury poisoning in coastal communities?
*The 4-part documentary series comes from Sundance. Director Nanette Burstein interweaves moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life.
*The world premiere of the Icelandic documentary Last and First Men billed as “a visionary elegy” directed by late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who composed scores for films including The Theory of Everything and Mary Magdalene. The film is narrated by Tilda Swinton.
*The world premiere of Charlatan, a Czech Republic / Ireland / Poland / Slovakia co-production directed by Agnieszka Holland.
*The world premiere of Chinese documentary Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue where director Jia Zhang-ke draws on his dialogues with various generations of Chinese writers and scholars as they gather in a village in his home province of Shanxi.
Main Photo Credit: Asta Kamma August, Nina Terese Rask, Jonathan Bergholdt Jørgensen, Sara Fanta Traore in Sex. Photo courtesy of Profile Pictures