The Berlinale's Panorama, which opens on Feb 5 with Eytan Fox's Walk On Water, has "a particularly bold, raw and energetic programme this year", according to section head Wieland Speck.
Speaking to ScreenDaily.com, Speck cited "such explosive films as Abdellatif Kechiche's L'Esquive which really touches one through its unbelievable energy to Joey Curtis' Quattro Noza set in Latino community in Southern California which is reminiscent of West Side Story with its highly choreographed action."
The Panorama line-up comprises 34 features, 16 documentaries and 26 short films - from 32 different countries.
Speck noted that the issue of the loneliness of the individual is "particularly evident in the films from the West and especially radical in the US films". He added that this year's line-up has "no end of women's stories" ranging from the "real discovery" of Wang Quanan's The Story Of Er Mei through to Raphael Nadjari's Avanim - which Speck considers "even more political than [Nir Bergman's] Broken Wings which we had last year" - to Angela Robinson's "over the top story" D.E.B.S. of high-school girls trained as secret agents.
In keeping with the Berlinale's overall focus on South Africa and South America, the Panorama has selected such feature films as Brazilian Roberto Moreira's Up Against Them All and John Greyson and Jack Lewis' Proteus as well as documentaries like Romano Scavolini's Che - The Last Hours and Guilherme Coelho's Fala Tu - Lives Of Rhyme.
Indeed, the Panorama's documentary strand - Panorama Dokumente - is particularly strong this year with new films by Romuald Karmakar (Land Of Annihilation), Andres Veiel (Addicted To Acting), Bruce Weber (A Letter To True), Ron Mann (Go Further) and Andrew Horn (The Nomi Song).
"Eastern Europe is very weakly represented this year, that really hurt," Speck added. "We had Todorovsky's new film Frankenstein before he withdrew it, but then, at the last minute, a film came from Russia - You I Love - which was really tailor-made for the Panorama programme!"