Jan 13, 2023
2023 Berlinale Shorts – Fiction Against a Real-Life Backdrop
The 20 films in the 2023 Berlinale Shorts fully exploit the many possibilities of cinematic storytelling: the fictional works range from beautifully directed and excellently casted dramas (Wo de peng you, As miçangas, Nuits blanches, Qin mi) to warm-hearted grotesque fantasies (La herida luminosa), from poetic political essays (Les chenilles) and magical or angry poems (8, Terra Mater – Mother Land) to stories containing autobiographical elements (Marungka tjalatjunu, Back). The various documentary formats suffuse private found footage, historical archive material and Cinéma Vérité images with their own idiosyncratic style and view of the world (Ours, Back, The Veiled City, From Fish to Moon). The animated films provide a feast for the eyes and address highly topical issues (The Waiting, A Kind of Testament, Eeva), while the experimental film in the selection plays with the screen, sounds and images (Happy Doom). Cinema and/or film history make an appearance in some of the works, whether as a communal space (Wo de peng you), original footage (Jill, Uncredited) or as an updated remake (It's a Date).
Many of the films embed their fictional plots in real-life places and communities (Mwanamke Makueni, Marungka tjalatjunu, Terra Mater – Mother Land) and historic moments (Nuits blanches, It's a Date, Back, Les chenilles, Wo de peng you). In this way, they also address the urgent issues of the day including the extinction of species and destruction of nature, capitalist exploitation in transnational contexts and the traumatisation of a society by its authoritarian regime. They hit upon unconventional and touching responses to issues such as identity theft on social media, transgressive acts against women, the marginalisation of Indigenous people, the abuse of precarious work situations and abortions made illegal by the law. They show a great deal of warmth when depicting the everyday, peripheral figures and interpersonal relationships and tell stories of caring and solidarity.
“Even difficult topics are broached with a refreshing lightness of touch without sacrificing any of their seriousness. It’s exciting to see what kinds of artistic tools the filmmakers are using to communicate their stories and ideas,” says Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck, section head of Berlinale Shorts. “We are delighted to be welcoming some familiar and many new faces to the festival this year.” Volker Schlecht and Alexander Lahl participated in the 2016 Berlinale Shorts competition with Kaputt while Billy Roisz is now back for the fourth time and Zhang Dalei, winner of the 2021 Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film), is presenting a new work which revisits and expands on the themes of his previous short and feature films.
All the films are nominated for the Golden Bear for Best Short Film and the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film). In addition, the Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards will be selected. The winners are being chosen by a three-person international jury and will be announced during the official Award Ceremony on February 25.
The Berlinale Shorts blog will feature interviews with the filmmakers and texts about their films.
January 13, 2023