The Berlin International Film Festival, known as the Berlinale, will take place for the 74th time from February 15-25, 2024.
One talented and lucky filmmaker will earn the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear. Seven Silver Bears will be awarded for excellent directing, acting, screenwriting, or other crafts. A Golden Bear and a Silver Bear will also be awarded to two directors of short films.
During the first week of the festival, filmmakers will meet distributors at the European Film Market, which is preparing to welcome 11,500 guests from February 15-21.
Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare for this year’s Berlinale.
During the festival, two eminent and distinctive filmmakers will receive lifetime achievement awards.
On February 20, halfway through the festival, an Honorary Golden Bear will be awarded to Martin Scorsese. You probably don’t need an introduction to this American filmmaker. He has a long, consistent record of excellent directing.
Scorsese has been nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Achievement in Directing (formerly called Best Director) an astounding TEN times: for Raging Bull in 1981, The Last Temptation of Christ in 1989, Goodfellas in 1991, Gangs of New York in 2003, The Aviator in 2005, The Departed in 2007, Hugo in 2012, The Wolf of Wall Street in 2014, The Irishman in 2020, and Killers of the Flower Moon, his most recent film, in 2024.
Appropriately, the ceremony honoring Scorsese will culminate in a screening of The Departed, the film for which he won an Academy Award® for directing. The Departed also won Academy Awards® for Best Picture, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Best Achievement in Film Editing.
On February 22, two days later, the Berlinale Camera will be awarded to German writer and director Edgar Reitz. The award recognizes “personalities and institutions who have made a special contribution to filmmaking and with whom the festival feels closely connected.”
Reitz was a foundational figure in the New German Cinema movement, which began in the early 1960s. In 1967, Mahlzeiten (Table for Love), which Reitz wrote and directed, won the award for Best First Work at the Venice Film Festival. As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, Reitz is most famous for the Heimat (Home) series, which uses fictional narratives about a single family to examine German history from around 1840 to 2000.
His latest film, a documentary called Filmstunde_23, will premiere at the Berlinale immediately after Reitz accepts his award.
The International Jury determines the winners of the Golden Bear for Best Film and seven Silver Bears. Silver Bears are awarded for the films in second place (Grand Jury Prize) and third place (Jury Prize), as well as for Best Director, Best Leading Performance, Best Supporting Performance, Best Screenplay, and the most Outstanding Artistic Contribution through a craft or trade.
This year’s President of the International Jury is actor Lupita Nyong’o. In 2014, Nyong’o earned the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Other notable roles include Adelaide Wilson (and her menacing alter ego, Red) in Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) and the Wakandan spy Nakia in Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) and its sequel, Wakanda Forever (2022).
Separate juries determine the winners of awards for films screened outside the official lineup. The International Short Film Jury gives a Golden Bear for Best Short Film and a Silver Bear Jury Prize. The remaining juries give other prizes, such as bear plaques or Crystal Bears.
In addition, numerous independent organizations attend the Berlinale to bestow their own awards. Examples of such organizations include Amnesty International, the International Federation of Film Critics, and TEDDY, which gives the world’s most prestigious award for queer films.
The lineup of 20 films in the official competition was announced on January 22, 2024. Instead of trying to cover them all, we’ll highlight a few that appealed us. We freely admit that our taste is subjective, sometimes even eccentric. We like to think that’s why you read our blogs!
The festival’s opening film is Tim Mielants’ Small Things Like These. It is based on Claire Keegan’s novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2022. The film follows Bill Furlong as he discovers secrets kept by a convent in a small Irish town during the 1980s. Furlong is played by Cillian Murphy, who starred in Oppenheimer and is up for the Academy Award® for Best Actor.
While the official lineup contains many films by experienced directors, it also showcases two debuts.
Tunisian-American director Meryam Joobeur, who works out of Montréal, will premiere her first feature film, Mé el Aïn (Who Do I Belong To). It is a drama about a Tunisian mother’s struggle to welcome home her war-scarred son. Previously, Joobeur has made successful shorts – most notably, Brotherhood, which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short Film in 2020.
Italian actress Margherita Vicario makes her directorial debut with a feminist retelling of the origins of classical music, called Gloria! According to Variety, classmates in an 18th-century girls’ school decide “to challenge classical canons and invent a precursor to pop.” Vicario has acted in a variety of films, television shows, and music videos. You can sample the music videos on Vicario’s YouTube channel.
Three films were made at least partly in the U.S. We love art from all around the world, but we like to highlight American-made films because they support our local businesses!
In Min Bahadur Bham’s Shambhala, a pregnant woman scours the Himalayas for her missing husband. In Alonso Ruizpalacios’ La Cocina, coworkers in a New York City restaurant navigate cross-cultural differences. In Aaron Schimberg’s A Different Man, Edward finds he can’t quite move on after doctors cure his facial disfigurement.
Finally, we can’t resist mentioning Pepe by Dominican director Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias. In this one-of-a-kind film, the Colombian jungle is haunted by the ghost of drug lord Pablo Escobar’s escaped hippopotamus.
Enjoy the Festival!
There’s so much more to enjoy at the Berlinale! We haven’t even begun to describe the lineups for Berlinale Classics or Encounters, a series that features independent filmmakers.
We hope you’ll use our blog as a starting point for learning more. In addition, we hope you share our anticipation for the films premiering at this year’s festival.
Finally, please join us in wishing good luck to all the filmmakers premiering works, competing for awards, or negotiating deals during the Berlinale 2024!