Berlin Syndrome

Australian backpacker Clare is wandering through Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with her stills camera. She’s particularly fascinated by the old GDR buildings. She meets a friendly English teacher named Andi and they hit it off immediately. He shows her the allotments and the neighbourhood, and they end up in bed together. Something that begins as a romance takes an unexpectedly sinister turn when, in the morning – Andi has left for school – Clare tries to leave the otherwise empty old building and realises that she is locked in. At first she thinks this is a mistake, but she soon realises that she is a prisoner. Cut off from the rest of the world, Clare experiences terrifying weeks during which she vacillates between yielding to Andi’s obsessions and trying to escape. We’ve seen thrillers about psychopaths in the outback but Australian director Cate Shortland has set the horror in Berlin. Whenever the film focusses on Clare, the setting, lighting and camerawork has a claustrophobic feel, whereas Andi’s world outside goes on just as before. Based on Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same name, this adaptation is a precise study of the changing relationship between kidnapper and victim.
by Cate Shortland
with Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt, Matthias Habich, Emma Bading, Elmira Bahrami, Christoph Franken
Australia 2017 English, German 116’ Colour


  • Teresa Palmer (Clare Havel)
  • Max Riemelt (Andi Werner)
  • Matthias Habich (Erich Werner)
  • Emma Bading (Franka Hummels)
  • Elmira Bahrami (Jana)
  • Christoph Franken (Peter)


Director Cate Shortland
Screenplay Shaun Grant adapted from a novel by Melanie Joosten
Cinematography Germain McMicking
Editing Jack Hutchings
Music Bryony Marks
Sound Design Luke Mynott, Robert Mackenzie
Production Design Melinda Doring
Costumes Maria Pattison
Make-Up Chiara Tripodi
Casting Anja Dihrberg, Kirsty McGregor
Assistant Director Deborah Antoniou
Production Manager Esther Rodewald
Producer Polly Staniford
Executive Producers Angie Fielder, Cecilia Ritchie, Troy Lum, Emilie Georges, Naima Abed, Tanja Meissner, Nicholas Kaiser, Oliver Lawrance, Florence Tourbier, Scott Anderson

Memento Films International

Produced by

Aquarius Films

Cate Shortland

Born in Temora, Australia in 1968, she is a film and television director who studied fine art at Sydney University and directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. Her debut film Somersault premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Lore screened in Competition at the Sydney Film Festival and won numerous international prizes including the Audience Award at Locarno.


2004 Somersault 2012 Lore 2017 Berlin Syndrome

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017