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New gazes, new perspectives

Late February. Berlin. A dry, sparkling cold that wakes up and revitalises, making one energized and ready to embark on new, exciting adventures. And then, last but not least, one of the richest and most exciting festivals in the world. This 70th edition of the Berlinale promises to be a real turning point for one of the oldest film festivals in the world. Starting with this Berlinale 2020, in fact, there will be, first and foremost, a new artistic director, who has arrived in the Teutonic capital directly from Italy. We are talking about Carlo Chatrian, who will have the challenging task of replacing the long-time director Dieter Kosslick in the festival’s direction. And, already giving a brief reading of the programme, we can state almost with certainty that this Berlinale 2020 really does have a lot of nice surprises in store. Just think of names such as Rithy Panh, Tsai Ming-Liang, Philippe Garrel or Abel Ferrara in the running for the coveted Golden Bear, just to name a few.

Yet, looking at the competition titles, we cannot fail to notice that Austria is absent from the competition this year. This, however, does not mean that the Berlinale 2020 has ‘forgotten’ it. Indeed, Berlin has often welcomed a large number of Austrian films, placed, each time, within the numerous sections present. And the same, in fact, happened again this year.

Within the wide Berlin selection, for example, the new Encounters section deserves particular attention. This section is dedicated to avant-garde cinema, perfectly capable of merging various forms of artistic expression, for new languages and new paths to follow, perfectly in line with the times – and their changes – that we are living through. In this section, then, we will have the opportunity to watch the science-fiction feature The Trouble with being born (Die Last geboren zu sein), directed by young Sandra Wollner, which stages the vicissitudes of a young android grappling with existential questions typical of a delicate age such as adolescence.

Always particularly prolific in terms of documentary film, Austria also has two new works to offer us – presented during this Berlinale 2020 in the Panorama Dokumente section: we are talking about Running on Empty (Jetzt oder morgen), directed by Lisa Weber and focusing on the life of Claudia, a teenage mother, and Notes from the Underworld (Aufzeichnungen aus der Unterwelt), the newest work by documentary filmmakers Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel – best known for directing films such as La Pivellina (2009) and Mister Universo (2016) – in which, through several letters, a faithful fresco of post-war Vienna is portrayed.

Finally, we cannot forget the always full of surprises section Forum. Here, too, two more Austrian works will be shown on the big screen for the first time. The first, Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo (directed by Constanze Ruhm), is inspired by Anna, Alberto Grifi’s 1975 masterpiece, while the second will be Was bleibt | Sta ostaje | What remains/re-visited, directed by Clarissa Thieme, who undertook a long journey to Bosnia in order to document the consequences of the Yugoslavian war.

In short, there will be something for everyone. It is interesting to observe how this selection is, in fact, a perfect representation of the main trends in contemporary Austrian cinema, with a distinct predilection for documentary and experimental cinema. But to understand how they are evolving, we just have to wait to watch these new works. And now, finally, we are very close. Let the magic begin!

Below are all the Austrian films at the Berlinale 2020.

Info: the website of the Berlinale 2020