The Berlinale introduces Encounters and appoints a new Forum head
by Vassilis Economou
- Chatrian and Rissenbeek have announced a new competitive section and the discontinuation of two special series; Cristina Nord is the new head of the Berlinale Forum
UPDATE (9 May 2019): It has been announced that film critic, writer and curator Cristina Nord will be the new head of the Berlinale Forum, starting on 1 August 2019. In the past, Nord has worked as the film editor for the Berlin daily newspaper taz. die tageszeitung, while since 2015, she has been the Brussels-based director of programming for the Goethe-Institut. Organised independently by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, Forum will celebrate its 50th birthday next year, and the decision was made by Arsenal’s board of directors, comprising Milena Gregor, Birgit Kohler and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, in conjunction with the Berlinale management team and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Following her appointment, Nord stated: “The Berlinale Forum offers its audience the opportunity to discover young, experimental and essayistic forms of film. It provides enough space for many different varieties of cinema, thus opening up new modes of perception. Its international approach, its awareness of film history, and the joy it takes in thinking with and in film while reflecting on society are all exemplary. Tying in with this legacy and leading it into the future under today’s ever-changing conditions is a task that I look forward to with great pleasure. I am grateful to Arsenal’s board of directors for the faith that they have in me.” It should be noted that Stefanie Schulte Strathaus will continue to direct Forum Expanded, a programme that she initiated in 2006 along with Anselm Franke.
It’s been just over a month since the new duo of Berlinale directors, artistic director Carlo Chatrian and executive director Mariette Rissenbeek, announced the first wave of changes for the upcoming edition of the festival, which mainly concerned the new selection committee (see the news).
The latest update from Berlin is the introduction of a new competition section, dubbed Encounters. According to the official announcement, the section will support new voices in cinema and will offer more space to diverse feature-length narrative and documentary forms. It sounds more like a platform focused on less mainstream works, as it will host 15 aesthetically and structurally daring works from independent, innovative filmmakers, who will present their works as world or international premieres, and a three-member jury will choose the winners of the Best Film Award, Best Director Award and a Special Jury Prize.
This was a joint decision by the directors, as Chatrian mentions: “The 21st century, with its technological and economic shifts, has changed film production in many ways, making the boundaries between fiction and documentary, film essay and genre, less stable and more porous. As the Berlinale is committed to driving the market forward and discovering new cinematic visions, we have decided to create a competitive section that, alongside the international competition, will allow us to fully embrace this changing world.” Rissenbeek adds: “Encounters is an ideal supplement for the competition and the whole spectrum of the festival’s programme.” It goes without saying that the official competition and Berlinale Shorts will both remain as competitive sections.
The other changes to the Berlinale 2020 programme concern two of the side sections, which are being discontinued. NATIVe, which focused on cinema from indigenous communities, won’t be returning next year, although the team promises that future films will be incorporated into the festival’s other sections. The same goes for the special Culinary Cinema series and films dealing with culinary enjoyment, food production, ecology and agriculture, which will also be screened in other sections.
Finally, the new selection committee will take care of the European scouting as well as scouting in other countries, while some of the members will focus on particular regions: in detail, these members will be Paz Lázaro (Latin America), Maryanne Redpath (Australia and New Zealand), Meenakshi Shedde (India and South Asia), Eduardo Valente (Brazil), Dorothee Wenner (Sub-Saharan Africa), Ryan Werner (the USA) and Jacob Wong (China, Taiwan and Hong Kong). Also, Norman Wang, Luciano Monteagudo, Dennis Lim and former long-time EFM director Beki Probst, along with Jason Ryle, former advisor for NATIVe, have been appointed as the Berlinale’s advisors, tasked with facilitating relationships with filmmakers and the industry.
More changes are due to be outlined imminently as the key date of 1 June 2019 rapidly approaches – the day when the Berlinale’s future head honchos will fully take office.
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