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tip top tips for the berlinale

The Berlin Film Festival kicked off yesterday with 20 films in competition and ready to be judged by a jury that includes the venerable Greta Gerwig, Michel Gondry and Christoph Waltz. i-D takes a look at the five films getting all the early heat for the coveted Golden Bear.

Text Tom Seymour

  • Boyhood - Richard Linklater

    Starring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke

    Richard Linklater – the man behind the Before Sunset trilogy – will premiere his fascinating latest project at the festival. Boyhood has been shot piece by piece every summer since 2002. It stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the married parents of a young boy, played by Ellar Salmon, and chronicles the boy’s life from six to 16 as his parent’s marriage begins to unravel. They age and mature in real time, in front of our eyes. Taking part in a Reddit AMA, Hawke said of the project:“Doing a scene with a young boy at the age of 7, when he talks about why do raccoons die, and at the age of 12 when he talks about video games, and 17, when he asks me about girls, and have it be the same actor - to watch his voice and body morph - it's a little bit like time-lapse photography of a human being.”


  • ’71 - Yann Demange

    Starring Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Richard Dormer

    Flying the flag for Blighty, Yann Demange’s ’71 is working up some heat going into the festival. Shot on location in Yorkshire in April 2013, and produced by Warp Films, and set in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, the film follows a British soldier after he’s separated from his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Left to fend for himself, and increasingly unable to tell friend from foe, he must survive the night alone. Watch out for Jack O’Connell in the lead role. A minor from the This is England cast, this is his first lead role in a year that’ll include David Mackenzie’s Starred Up, Hollywood franchise 300: Rise Of An Empire and Unbroken, directed by Angela Jolie and scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen. He’s the lead in that too…

  • Aloft - Claudia Llosa

    Starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent

    Peruvian director Llosa, who now lives in Barcelona and works in advertising between films, is a bit of a celebrity at the Berlinale. She premiered in Berlin in 2009 with The Milk of Sorrow – known in Spain as ‘The Frightened Teat.’ It’s a film ostensibly about the Peruvian folk belief that a woman’s trauma can be passed to her children through the milk from their breasts, and Llosa uses the conceit to explore the uprising of the Maoist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Peruvian government’s murderous response throughout the 1980s. The film won the Golden Bear, and there’s been plenty of buzz around her return to the festival with Aloft which, on the basis of the only clip released, looks beautiful to behold. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, and Melanie Laurent, and exploring an estranged and traumatic mother-son relationship, Aloft could well be Llosa's break into international acclaim, so watch this space.

  • Al midan (The Square) - Jehane Noujaim

    Also, Arij (Scent of Revolution) - Viola Shafik

    There’s plenty of buzz around two Egyptian documentaries screening in competition at the Berlinale. Both explore the peaceful anti-regime protests in Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring and the subsequent, increasingly violent upheavals in the country. In Viola Shafik’s multimedia, multi-perspective Arij (Scent of Revolution), the point of view of an activist, a writer, a young web designer and a collector of photographs combine into a mosaic of near-history. Control Room director Jehane Noujaim’s Oscar-nominated Al midan (The Square) also forms around the nexus of Tahrir Square, following a group of activists for more than two years as the revolution began to dominate their waking life, capturing with an almost wincing intimacy the immediacy and intensity of the revolution from the grassroots, as it happened, and continues to happen.


  • La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) - Christophe Gans

    Starring Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux

    Old man happens into a shabby castle, nabs a rose, disturbs a lonesome, angry Beast, gives up his beautiful, downtrodden daughter, beast turns out to be pretty swaggery in the daytime; this French rendering of Beauty and the Beast, which will premiere at the festival, doesn’t appear to deviate much from the Disney fairytale. And yet it stars Vincent Cassel, who just seems to get better with age, and Léa Seydoux, fresh from Blue is the Warmest Colour and now the most marketable actress in France. It’s helmed by Christophe Gans, the French director of Hollywood horror films Silent Hill and Brotherhood of the Wolf, who was given a production budget of €33 million. The French aren’t known for high-concept, high-budget filmmaking, so let’s see how they handle it.