The Cage Is Looking For A Bird

Source: Berlinale

‘The Cage Is Look For A Bird’

Absence (China)

Dir. Wu Lang
This feature debut stars Lee Kang-Sheng, whose credits include Days, and Li Meng, known for A Touch Of Sin, both from director Wu’s short film of the same name selected for Cannes’ shorts competition in 2021. Sharing a similar storyline and set in Wu’s hometown Haikou on Hainan island, Absence is about two former lovers who get back together after 10 years apart until the realities of their situation sets in. Backers include Shanghai Turan Movie, Haikou Qinglan Visual Art Development, Joicy Studio and WuTiaoRen (Guangzhou) Cultural Communication. Previously known as Spring Lies Forsaken, the project received the jury award at Shanghai Film Festival’s project market in 2019.
Contact: Rediance

The Adults (US)

Dir. Dustin Guy Defa
Defa reunites with Michael Cera, who co-starred in his Sundance 2017 comedy drama Person To Person. Cera has been busy in TV but has not been seen in a film (notwithstanding animation work) since 2018’s Gloria Bell remake. The story centres on a man whose brief trip home to catch up with his two sisters gets extended as addiction takes over and he tries to beat his local poker group. Hannah Gross and Sophia Lillis round out the key cast. Defa made his feature directing debut with Bad Fever, which debuted at 2011 SXSW. Dweck Productions and Savage Rose Films produced.
Contact: Universal Pictures Content Group

The Cage Is Looking For A Bird (Fr-Rus)

Dir. Malika Musaeva
Musaeva’s debut feature is set in Ingushetia, on Chechnya’s border with Russia, and stars a non-­professional cast as young Chechen women struggling to fulfil their dreams in a region blighted by political instability and extreme poverty. The film is produced by Ilya Stewart’s recently launched Hype Studios and Golden Lion-winning filmmaker Alexander Sokurov, who was Musaeva’s tutor at the film course he oversees at Kabardino-Balkarian State University. Musaeva resides and works in Germany; the filmmakers say they will donate 50% of the film’s proceeds to Human Rights Watch.
Contact: Totem Films

Eastern Front (Latvia-Cze-Ukr-US)

Dirs. Vitaly Mansky, Yevhen Titarenko
For Mansky’s Berlin debut, the exiled Russian director has collaborated with Ukrainian filmmaker Titarenko to depict the latter’s experiences with his friends of volunteering on the frontline during the first six months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mansky is best known for 2015 North Korean documentary Under The Sun, which premiered at Tallinn where he picked up a jury prize for best director. Eastern Front is produced by Vertov (Latvia) and Braha Production (Ukraine), in co‑­production with Hypermarket Film (Czech) and Current Time TV (US).
Contact: Deckert Distribution

The Echo

Source: Berlinale

‘The Echo’

The Echo (Mex-Ger)

Dir. Tatiana Huezo
Rising Mexican filmmaker Huezo returns to her documentary roots after her last feature, the narrative drama and Cannes Un Certain Regard prize-winner Prayers For The Stolen, became her country’s Oscar submission and made the shortlist in 2021. The Echo (El Eco) went through the IDFA 2021 Forum and focuses on children, a central theme in Huezo’s work, as they grow up in a remote village stricken by drought and frost. The project from Radiola Films also participated in the fifth edition of European Work in Progress Cologne last October.
Contact: The Match Factory

Family Time (Fin-Swe)

Dir. Tia Kouvo
Finnish director Kouvo makes her feature debut with a poignant and funny story of a family that comes together for the holidays. As things start to fall apart, will they remain stuck in the same patterns of behaviour or can they become a happier family? Jussi Rantamäki and Emilia Haukka produce for Aamu Film, whose credits include The Woodcutter Story, Compartment No. 6 and The Happiest Day In The Life Of Olli Maki. Adapted from Kouvo’s award-winning short of the same name, Family Time won three prizes at TorinoFilmLab in 2021.
Contact: The Match Factory

Here (Belg)

Dir. Bas Devos
Belgian director Devos has a rich history with the Berlinale, after his debut Violet won the 2014 jury prize in Generation 14plus and Hellhole was selected for Panorama in 2019. His last feature Ghost Tropic played in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2019. Here is about a Romanian construction worker living in Brussels but on the verge of moving back home. He cooks up a big pot of soup using leftovers in his fridge to share with his friends, while also making an unexpected new connection. Stefan Gota and Liyo Gong star.
Contact: Rediance

In The Blind Spot (Ger)

Dir. Ayse Polat
Turkey-born director Polat’s En Garde won a Silver Leopard at Locarno in 2004, and her credits include 2010 comedy drama Luks Glück and 2016 Armenian genocide documentary The Others. In The Blind Spot is her first film to play at the Berlinale and centres on a German film team shooting a documentary in a Kurdish village in Turkey, who become embroiled in a complex web of conspiracy, paranoia and generational trauma. It is produced through Hamburg-based PunktPunktPunkt Filmproduktion.
Contact: ArtHood Entertainment 

in water (S Kor)

Dir. Hong Sangsoo
Written, directed and produced by the multiple award-winning Korean director (The Novelist’s Film, Hahaha), Hong’s latest stars Shin Seokho, Ha Seongguk and Kim Seungyun and centres on a young actor who decides to test his creativity by setting out to direct a short film using his own money. He arrives with two former classmates on a large island known for its rocks and wind, and wanders around, unsure of what to shoot, until he meets a woman picking up trash on the coast. Jeonwonsa Film produced.
Contact: Finecut

The Klezmer Project (Austria-Arg)

Dirs. Leandro Koch, Paloma Schachmann
Argentinian cameraman Koch falls for Schachmann, a clarinetist at a Jewish wedding, and ends up travelling through Europe in search of the last remaining melody of the traditional Klezmer Yiddish folk music tradition. Koch previously directed shorts, and The Klezmer Project marks both filmmakers’ feature directing debut. Austria’s Nabis Filmgroup majority produced the documentary alongside Nevada Cine from Argentina.
Contact: Films Boutique

Living Bad

Source: Berlinale

‘Living Bad’

Living Bad (Port-Fr)

Dir. Joao Canijo
A companion piece and mirror image to Canijo’s Competition entry Bad Living, Living Bad takes its inspiration from three plays by August Strindberg that explore egotism. This film focuses not on the owners of the remote hotel in Bad Living but on its guests — three families each struggling with their own complex torments. Here the main cast include EFP Shooting Star 2006 Nuno Lopes, Leonor Silveira and Beatriz Batarda, all Canijo regulars. Backers for both films include the Portuguese Film and Audio­visual Institute (ICA), Portuguese public broadcaster RTP and the municipality of Esposende.
Contact: Portugal Film

My Worst Enemy (Fr-Switz)

Dir. Mehran Tamadon
This is the Iran-born French filmmaker’s second time at Berlin after his 2014 documentary Iranian world-premiered in Forum. Tamadon once again explores Iran, turning his attention to the recent protests and his inability to travel back to his home country. My Worst Enemy features Holy Spider star Zar Amir Ebrahimi and sees Tamadon reteam with Iranian producers L’atelier Documentaire from France and Switzerland’s Box Productions. Tamadon’s debut feature Bassidji won best world documentary at 2009’s Jihlava festival.
Contact: Andana Films

Orlando, My Political Biography (Fr)

Dir. Paul B Preciado
Nearly a century after the publication of Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography, writer, philosopher and curator Preciado took the position that the book’s character has become real and that the world is becoming Orlando-esque. Preciado held an online viral street casting to find “contemporary Orlandos” and filmed the journey for his first feature, a unique “fictional documentary” from prolific French producers Les Films du Poisson, and co-­produced by Arte.
Contact: Samuel Blanc, The Party Film Sales 

Samsara (Sp)

Dir. Lois Patiño
The latest from experimental filmmaker Patiño, whose short Strata Of The Image was an inspiration for James Gray’s Ad Astra, Samsara explores Buddhist enlightenment by following the spirit of an old woman in Laos who, after her death, is reincarnated as a goat in Tanzania. Patiño’s Red Moon Tide was a festival hit in 2020, and his The Sower Of Stars was Berlin’s entry for the short film category at the European Film Awards last year. Produced by Señor y Señora, Samsara was funded by the Spanish Film Institute (ICAA) and Jeonju Cinema Project.
Contact: Bendita Films

The Walls Of Bergamo (It)

Dir. Stefano Savona
Following 2018 Cannes prize-­winner Samouni Road, Savona depicts how the city of Bergamo has rebuilt itself over the past three years following the devastation of the Covid‑19 pandemic. This is the Italian filmmaker’s first time at Berlin but his 2009 documentary Cast Lead, about Israeli incursions into the Gaza Strip, screened at Locarno, Annecy Italian Cinema Festival (winning a special jury prize at both) and Torino. The Walls Of Bergamo is produced by Italy’s ILBE and Rai Cinema.
Contact: Fandango

White Plastic Sky (Hun-Slovakia)

Dirs. Tibor Banoczki, Sarolta Szabo
White Plastic Sky is the feature debut of the animation directors behind imaginative shorts Les Conquerants (Sundance 2012) and César-­nominated and Clermont Ferrand-winning Leftover (2015). Szabo and Banoczki combined 2D and 3D animation and roto­scoping to create their dystopian fantasy about one man’s risky attempts to save his wife in a future world devoid of fauna and flora. The producers are Hungary’s Salto Films and Slovakia’s Artichoke Film Production.
Contact: Films Boutique

Profiles by Ellie Calnan, Tim Dams, Patricia Dobson, Sandy George, Jeremy Kay, Rebecca Leffler, Wendy Mitchell, Jean Noh, Michael Rosser, Mona Tabbara, Silvia Wong