Ahram Online presents: The Idiot's Guide to 66th Berlin Film Festival

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 Feb 2016

Ahram Online wraps up all you need to know about this year's Berlinale that opens on 11 February

(Photo: Courtesy of Berlinale 2016 Press Office)

Berlinale is scheduled to take place between 11 and 21 February, with one of the principal aims of the event to foster understanding, tolerance, and acceptance, the organisers revealed.

The Competition and the Jury

- Eighteen of the 23 films in the competition’s programme will be vying for the Golden and Silver Bears with 19 of them having their world premieres at Berlinale.

- A total of 22 countries, most of them European, will have films in the competition, with Tunisia being the only Arab country in the mix with its film Inhebbek Hedi (Hedi) by Mohamed Ben Attia.

- Meryl Streep was selected as president of the jury, which comprises of actor Lars Eidinger (Germany), film critic Nick James (United Kingdom), photographer Brigitte Lacombe (France), actor Clive Owen (United Kingdom), actress Alba Rohrwacher (Italy) and director Malgorzata Szumowska (Poland).

- The awards are: Golden Bear for Best Film (awarded to the film’s producer), Silver Bear Grand Jury, Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives, Silver Bear for Best Director, Silver Bear for Best Actress,Silver Bear for Best Actor, Silver Bear for Best Script,Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in the categories of camera, editing, music, score, costume or set design.

- The award ceremony will take place at the Berlinale Palast on Saturday, 20 February, 2016.

Inhebbek Hedi (Hedi),
Still from Tunisian film Inhebbek Hedi (Hedi) (Photo: Courtesy of Berlinale 2016 Press Office)

Berinale screenings and other activities are divided into a number of distinctive sections: Feature, Panorama, Generation, Shorts, Forum, and Tributes.

Best First Feature section

- 18 films have been nominated for the Best First Feature Award, including the Egyptian film Akher Ayam El-Madina (In the Last Days of the City), the Tunisian film Inhebbek Hedi (Hedi), and the Saudi Arabian film Barakah Yoqabil Barakah (Barakah Meets Barakah).

- The award is split between the producer and the director, with a high-quality viewfinder granted to the director.

Panorama section

- 51 films from 33 countries have been selected, 17 of which will screen in Panorama Dokumente, and 34 fiction features in the main programme and Panorama Special.

- 33 films are world premieres, nine are international premieres and nine European premieres.

- This section offers two awards: The Panorama Audience Award for best fiction and best documentary features, and the Heiner Carow Prize for a documentary, fiction or essay film.

Akher ayam el madina (In the Last Days of the City)
Akher Ayam El-Madina (In the Last Days of the City) (Photo: courtesy of Berlinale 2016 Press Office)

Berlinale Shorts section

- 25 films from 21 countries are in the competition.

- The jury members for the shorts competition are curator and director of the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, Greek curator and writer, Katerina Gregos and Israeli filmmaker, Avi Mograbi.

- The awards are the Golden and the Silver Bear, the nominee for the European Film Awards and the Audi Short Film Award.


- Following the theme 'Traversing the Phantasm', Forum will present 49 artistic works including 32 films of different lengths, 15 installations, one lecture performance, and a reading.

- One of this year’s regional focuses is on the Arab world, which screens films exploring both the past and present of the region, with some films by young directors.

- Special Screenings include three German films that will have their world premiere, and a sub-focus on Japanese 8-mm films from 1977 to 1990 under the title Hachimiri Madness: Japanese Indies from the Punk Years.

Egypt in Forum:

- Seven Egyptian works including: Five films directed by Egyptian filmmakers or with Egyptian cast. They are: Expired by Islam Kamal, Fathy La Yaeesh Hona Baad Ala'n (Fathy Doesn't Live Here Anymore) by Maged Nader, Zakerat Abad El Shams (A Stroll Down Sunflower Lane) by Mayye Zayed and Kama Tohalleq al Teyour (As Birds Flying) by Heba Amin, Moderation by Anja Kirschner (Greece/Italy/Egypt/United Kingdom).

- A special event will feature a reading of The Hanging Garden of Sleep by Haytham El-Wardany (Germany/Egypt).

- A project titled The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid will be displayed within the Visionary Archives segment of Forum Expanded.

The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid
Photo from project titled The Unbelievable Photos Taken by the Crazy Russians Who Illegally Climbed Egypt’s Great Pyramid (Photo: courtesy of Berlinale 2016 press office)

Generation section

- A wide selection of films from animations to documentaries explore youth and issues related to understanding younger generations, touching on themes such as friendship, loss, gender roles, migration and prejudice.

- A total of 63 feature-length and short films produced or co-produced in 35 countries have been invited to participate in the two competitions Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus, which includes two films from Iran.

- Two other sections of Generation are Short Films Generation Kplus, Short Films Generation 14plus.

Perspective Deutsches Kino

- A section dedicated to films by German newcomers, with subtopics of coming of age and the fear of the future, as well as making the “invisible visible.”

- The section includes 12 films, including eight full-length films as well as four medium-length fiction and documentary films.

- The programme’s opening film Meteorstraße (Meteor Street) by Aline Fischer is about a Palestinian adolescent whose family has fled to Berlin.

Retrospective and Homage

- The Berlinale Classics series will present premieres of six newly restored films, five of them world premieres.

- Two German films, Die Russen kommen (The Russians are Coming, 1968/1987) and Der müde Tod (Destiny, 1921) are closely linked to censorship in Germany's past. Two films are from the USA; Fat City (1972), The Road Back (1937), while two films are from Asia; Bakushu (Early Summer, 1951) from Japan and Ni Luo He Nu Er (Daughter of the Nile, 1987) from Taiwan.

The man who fell to earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Photos: courtesy of Berlinale 2016 press office)

Berlinale Talents

The nominated talents form a group of 300 emerging film and drama series professionals invited from 79 countries. They were chosen from a group of 2,648 applicants and will take part in a six-day programme featuring over 100 events. The group comprises of professionals from the fields of directing, producing, acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, production design, film criticism, sales and distribution, sound design, and score composing. 

- Egypt in Berlinale Talents: film distributor Ahmed Sobky and film critic and journalist Rasha Hosny

Books at Berlinale

- Eleven novels were selected to participate in the 2016 'Books at Berlinale' to be discussed in a pitching session at the Berlinale Co-Production Market on 16 February, in which film producers will meet with participating publishing houses and literary agents and explore the possibility of transforming such works into film productions.

World Cinema Fund

- WCF Day on 17 February will have WCF Africa Day dedicated to discussing the memory, present and future of African films in a forum titled Africa’s Cinema: What’s Next.

Other Awards:

- Berlinale Camera, which is awarded to film personalities or institutions that it feels it is particularly indebted to, will be presented to producer, cinema operator and film distributor Ben Barenholtz (USA), actor, director, writer and producer Tim Robbins (USA), and cinema operator Marlies Kirchner (Germany).


- The organisers of the 2016 Berlinale announced that this year's festival will give special screenings to commemorate three remarkable artists who passed away recently; musician David Bowie, actor Alan Rickman and filmmaker Ettore Scola.

- To commemorate Bowie, The Man Who Fell to Earth by Nicolas Roeg will be screened. Rickman will be commemorated with the screening of Sense and Sensibility by Ang Lee, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 1996, Scola will be commemorated with screening of his film Le Bal (1983), winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlinale.

bowie rickman scola
David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Ettore Scola commemorated at Berlinale 2016

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