65th Berlinale films In Competition, II

Jafar Panahi, Werner Herzog and Benoît Jacquot are among the directors who will compete for the 65th Berlinale Golden Bear. After the first announcement of films in competition, today we have eight new additions.

Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi is still trying to create and direct despite the 20-year ban on filmmaking that he was sentenced by the Iranian courts in 2011. The acclaimed director is still working on personal projects like his latest Pardé (Closed Curtain) that was awarded with Berlinale’s Silver Bear for Best Script in 2013. Two years later the director returns to Berlin with his new film Taxi. This will be another personal journey as Panahi is the director, scriptwriter and the protagonist.

Benoît Jacquot adapts for the fourth time on screen the classic novel Journal d’une femme de chamber (Diary of a Chambermaid) written by Octave Mirbeau in 1900. Léa Seydoux will play the leading role of Céléstine. The most acclaimed adaptations of the novel were of course those by Jean Renoir and Luis Buñuel with Paulette Goddard and Jeanne Moreau in the leading roles respectively. Vincent Lindon will play Joseph and the rest of the cast includes Clotilde Mollet, Hervé Pierre and Vincent Lacoste.

Herzog Queen

Six years after his last fiction film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009), Werner Herzog returns with an epic biographical drama. Queen of the Desert unfolds the life of Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman) an English explorer, political officer, archaeologist and spy who helped the British Empire in its expand in the Middle East at the start of 20th century. Along with Kidman, James Franco as Henry Cadogan, Damian Lewis as Charles Doughty-Wylie and Robert Pattinson as T. E. Lawrence hold the leading roles.

Malgorzata Szumowska, in 2013 Berlinale was awarded for her film W imie… (In the Name Of…) with the Best Feature Film Teddy award. The Polish director, who is working both in France and Poland, returns once again to her homeland for her newest drama Body. According to the reports the story follows a police investigator and single father who should balance his life around his forensic work and the problems of his anorexic daughter. In the leading roles are Janusz Gajos, Maja Ostaszewska and Justyna Suwala.

Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories

Vietnamese director Di Phan Dang is a Berlinale newcomer with his sophomore film five years after his debut Bi, dung so! (Bi, Don’t Be Afraid). Cha và con và (Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories) is set in 1990s Saigon where photography student Vu falls in love with his roommate, Thang, a heroin dealer. When Van, a singer at the club where Thang works is attacked, they run away to Vu’s hometown. In the leading roles are Do Thi Hai Yen, Le Cong Hoang and Truong The Vinh.

German director Sebastian Schipper who had become widely known for his 1999 directorial debut Absolute Giganten directs a new drama entitled Victoria. The story revolves around Victoria who at a Berlin’s club gets to know four guys. There is a spark between her and one of them Sonne. Unfortunately there is no time for romance as the four friends are forced to settle an old debt. This will be a journey from night to day in real time, breathless, thrilling and romantic. In the leading roles are Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff and André M. Hennicke.

Mr. Holmes

Ian McKellen as the long-retired Sherlock Holmes is the protagonist of Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes that would be Out of competition. The film is set in 1947 in a Sussex farmhouse where Holmes lives along with his housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney). Holmes reflects and recollects on his life as he is writing in his journals. Along with McKellen and Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada and Hattie Morahan also appear.

Finally, Wen Jiang’s Yi bu zhi yao (Gone with the Bullets) makes its international premiere during Berlinale. The Chinese director who created the critically acclaimed Guizi lai le (Devils on the Doorstep, 2000) remains on the more mainstream route as the film follows the same thematic as his previous 1920’s inspired action film Rang zi dan fei (Let the Bullets Fly, 2010). Along with the director who is also the protagonist, the leading actors are You Ge, Yun Zhou, Qi Shu and Huang Hung.

The 65th Berlin Film Festival starts in February 5th 2015.

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