French filmmaker Marie Dumora’s Belinda is slated to open the documentary section of the 67th International Berlin Film Festival under the theme of “Europa Europa”, about progressive ideals in the face of anti-progressive influences.
Belinda tells the story of the Yenish people living in Europe, who, like the Roma and Sinti, often face discrimination by larger society.
Other docs in the line up include Brazilian director João Moreira Salles No’s Intneso Agora (In the Intense Now), which documents the suppression of the Prague Spring, Paris in 1968 and China under Mao.
Jochen Hick’s Mein wunderbares West-Berlin (My Wonderful West Berlin), gives an account of queer life in West Berlin covering primarily the decades between the 1960s to the 1980s; from the U.S., Andrea Weiss searches for the remains of iconic Spanish poet and fascist murder victim, Federico García Lorca, in Bones of Contention; and French director Merzak Allouache examines Salafist preachings of paradise and their impact on young Arab men in Tahqiq fel djenna (Investigating Paradise).
The second theme of the festival is “Black Worlds” and showcases Yance Ford‘s Strong Island, about the murder of the filmmaker’s brother 25 years ago, and the issues of racism and inequality in America. The doc is also slated for Sundance 2017.
Prisoner of War by Andrea Luka Zimmerman of the UK is about the real live Rambo, who lives in a remote community in Nevada.
Turning to Latin America, in Tania Libre, director Lynn Hershman Leeson accompanies Cuban artist Tania Bruguera during sessions with trauma therapist Dr. Frank Ochberg. In El Pacto De Adriana (Adriana’s Pact), Chilean director Lissette Orozco stumbles on the secret that her favorite aunt colluded with the secret service under the rule of the Pinochet junta.
The French-Swiss-Palestinian copro Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting) by Raed Andoni takes viewers into the world of a group of ex-prisoners from Israeli detention centers who re-enact their experiences.
Three music documentaries make up a last thematic focus: Chavela by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi, is an homage to the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. In Revolution of Sound. Tangerine Dream, director Margarete Kreuzer tells the story of the electronic band Tangerine Dream. In Romuald Karmakar’s Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht (If I Think of Germany at Night) (pictured), he shows the development of the music genres by enabling the audience to watch and listen to noteworthy DJs while they work.
Annekatrin Hendel brings an intimate portrait of female friendship to the screen with Fünf Sterne (Five Stars). Hendel returns to the festival after her success with her doc Anderson, about the writer Sasha Anderson.
In Tristan Milewski’s Dream Boat is about a cruise exclusively for gay men, where many of the guests come from countries where they could face persecution if their true selves were exposed.
The festival will also launch its first major prize to honor documentary filmmaking. The Glashütte Original Documentary Award will give US$56,000 (€50,000) to the best non-fiction project spanning across all festival categories, including the Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Berlinale Special and Perspektive Deutsches Kino, as well as the Culinary Cinema special series. The winning filmmaking team will be decided by a three-member jury and the award will be presented during the festival’s official awards ceremony in the Berlinale Palast.
The Berlinale is scheduled to be held between Feb. 9 to 18 in Berlin.