2023 | Retrospective
„Young at Heart – Coming of Age at the Movies“
The 2023 Retrospective is dedicated to being young and growing up as a collective cinematic experience.
Noted international filmmakers from around the world have selected their coming-of-age film favourites for the Retrospective programme and present them in short texts and videos.
Maren Ade Wes Anderson Juliette Binoche Lav Diaz Ava DuVernay Nora Fingscheidt Kate Gornostai Luca Guadagnino Ryūsuke Hamaguchi Ethan Hawke Karoline Herfurth Niki Karimi Nadine Labaki Nadav Lapid Sergei Loznitsa Mohammad Rasoulof Céline Sciamma Martin Scorsese Aparna Sen M. Night Shyamalan Carla Simón Abderrahmane Sissako Kristen Stewart Tilda Swinton Wim Wenders Jasmila Žbanić
Maren Ade: Sans toi ni loi
I picked Agnès Varda’s Sans toi ni loi because when I was younger, I would have liked to see more films that looked at women from a different perspective. The film is about Mona, a young woman (Sandrine Bonnaire was 18 when she played the role) who has liberated herself. She is a drifter who does not reveal much about herself, so the people she encounters tend to project whatever they like onto her. In interviews, those fleeting acquaintances try to tell us something about her, but in the end, they are really just telling us about themselves. There is something in a woman’s search for freedom triggering such a range of feelings – from distaste and consternation to concern and yearning.
Even though Mona pays a high price during her journey, particularly at the end, she remains true to her intent of allowing nobody to own her, such that her death at the end is, in a strange way, a heroine’s death.
Following a female character who does not explain herself, and whom the film does not attempt to explain, is even today something special.
* 1976 in Karlsruhe, Federal Republic of Germany
Ade made her feature directorial debut with the 2003 The Forest for the Trees; her relationship drama Everyone Else was in the 2009 Competition, where it won the Jury Grand Prix. Her 2016 father-daughter drama Toni Erdmann was nominated for an Oscar and went on to win both the European and the German Film Award.
Wes Anderson: Little Fugitive
I think Ruth Orkin’s own words and photographs provide an eloquent introduction to the wonderful film she made with Morris Engel and Raymond Abrashkin [aka Ray Ashley] back in 1953.
“Usually when people in Hollywood direct their first movie it’s because they’ve had experience in other parts of movie-making; scriptwriting, acting, cinematography, editing, assistant director or the theater. And when they sit in the director’s chair for the first time they have a whole experienced crew to back them up. We had only our inexperienced selves.
We couldn’t have made the movies if we hadn’t been photographers first”.
* 1969 in Houston, USA
Wes Anderson was born in Houston, Texas. His films include Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums (2002 Competition), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2005 Competition), The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel (Berlinale 2014 opening), Isle of Dogs (Berlinale 2018 opening), and The French Dispatch. His newest film, Asteroid City, will be released this summer by Focus Features. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (for Netflix) is currently in post-production.
Juliette Binoche: Trois couleurs: Bleu
To me, Trois couleurs: Bleu is a film about growing up. For it is about saying farewell, and we evolve through renunciation. Maturity is not about reaching a certain age, rather it is about having the humility to accept that time is a fiction, and behind that fiction is a timelessness that keeps us immortal. When we touch that timelessness, we have reached adulthood, or at least achieved a more aware state.
* 1964 in Paris, France
Binoche became a world-wide star with The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988). The festival awarded her a Berlinale Camera in 1993, and she won the European Film Award for The Lovers on the Bridge (1991) and The English Patient (1997), which also garnered her a Silver Bear and an Oscar. She has appeared in numerous films in Competition, including the 2015 opener Nadie quiere la noche (Nobody Wants the Night), and in 2022 in Avec amour et acharnement (Both Sides of the Blade). She was president of the festival’s 2019 International Jury.
Lav Diaz: Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag
It was 1975, the third year of Ferdinand Marcos’ dark and brutal Martial Law in the Philippines. I was in college, my first year, and my Philippine literature professor told us to watch a new film by Lino Brocka and write about our reaction to it. He said the film had an “urgency on the state of the nation,” and it was based on a story by Edgardo M. Reyes. In fact, he added, the director and his actors were doing a campus tour promoting the film and our class would be attending their appearance at our school. A few days later, Lino Brocka and his young actor, Rafael “Bembol” Roco, did a Q&A in one of the university auditoriums. Brocka said it was Roco’s first film and that he discovered him in a theater production mounted in a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, where Roco was in rehab. I learned years later that he wasn’t Brocka’s first choice for the role. They had already shot some scenes with another actor, quite popular then and no slouch. But he was quite fat and looked too bourgeois for the lumpenproletarian character. Roco fitted the working-class attributes that the character required.
The following week, two of my classmates and I saw Maynila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag at one of the city’s cinemas. The film’s immediate effect on me then was cathartic, even epiphanic; I entered a transformative realm. Right after the screening, we went to a cheap and dirty street restaurant, and talked and talked about the film till dawn. I wrote my paper. Mine was the only piece our dear teacher read aloud in class, to my embarrassment, praising its “deep societal insight.” Besides the cultural critique, I also said in the paper that the film truly changed me, and that I realized that cinema is not just entertainment; that it can be a powerful medium for discourse on matters that are urgent and important to humanity. I also mentioned that I wished I could one day make cinema just like Maynila, sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag.
* 1958 in Datu Paglas, Philippines
Diaz has a degree in economics and later studied at the Mowelfund Film Institute. His feature Naked Under the Moon screened in the 2000 Forum. He made the five-and-a-half hour long From What is Before (2014) and his eight-hour black-and-white epic A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery was shown in Competition in 2016, garnering a Silver Bear. Season of the Devil was invited to the 2018 Berlinale.
Ava DuVernay: Rue Cases-Nègres
Jose is a vibrant and kind little boy. He is cared for by his devoted grandmother, who works herself to the bone so that he can be educated and avoid the doom of hard labor in the sugar cane fields. The child befriends an old man who remembers his own enslavement and longs to return to Africa someday, igniting new dreams of freedom within the boy. The nuance and necessity of this simple, yet strikingly powerful tale unfolds under the masterful eye of Madam Euzhan Palcy. She reminds us that history, however harsh, must be known and faced in order to create emancipated futures. Unshackled from pain. And instead, emboldened and empowered by it. In her glorious debut feature, Ms. Palcy weaves a spellbinding tapestry of humanity. She places us directly on the island of Martinque, offering all the texture and tenacity, the warmth and wonder, the beauty and bravery of the people there. Her camera captures a complicated history with intimacy and immediacy, ensuring that we will never forget Jose and the journey of a people that must be long remembered.
* 1972 in Long Beach, California, USA
Ava DuVernay is the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director in any feature category. Winner of multiple Emmy, BAFTA, NAACP and Peabody Awards, her feature film directorial work includes Selma (Competition of the 2015 Berlinale), 13th and A Wrinkle in Time, which made her the highest-grossing Black woman director in American box office history. DuVernay is currently writing, directing and producing the narrative film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent. DuVernay was a guest at the 2021 Berlinale Talents.
Nora Fingscheidt: Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day was the first movie experience that changed my perspective on reality and made me love an anti-hero. I must have been eight or nine and went to bed thinking “What if today starts again tomorrow?” or “If everything I do now is meaningless, because it will be undone by the time I wake up again – what would I actually want to do then?” Fiction and reality merged, which had a massive impact on me.
But is Groundhog Day a coming-of-age movie? Yes and no. OK, the main character Phil is technically a grown-up, but what does that mean, really? He starts in a place that some teenagers might find familiar. Alone, misunderstood and surrounded by – in his opinion – “idiots”. And although he behaves horribly, you can´t help but root for him. Being stuck in time becomes heaven and hell for Phil. He has an unplanned spiritual awakening, experiences true love for the first time and becomes the person he maybe never wanted to be, but always had inside him. I watched Groundhog Day with my son, more than 25 after I last saw it, and the movie still has the same impact on me. What a great story! If a film can make us laugh and think about life – for me it is perfect cinema. I think that these days we all need a good laugh and that Groundhog Day should be seen and rediscovered by young people today.
* 1983 in Braunschweig, Federal Republic of Germany
Fingscheidt studied at the Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg. She took part in the 2012 Berlinale Talents programme. After her documentary Without This World (2017), her narrative debut was the coming-of-age drama System Crasher, which won a Silver Bear in Competition at the 2019 Berlinale. In 2021, she directed Sandra Bullock in The Unforgivable, about an ex-convict.
Kate Gornostai: The Virgin Suicides
I watched The Virgin Suicides when I was the same age as Cecilia, one of the Lisbon sisters in the film. And that subtle world of American teenage girls, which Sofia Coppola portrays in her film, was uncommon to me - a Ukrainian girl - but still very familiar. Mostly in terms of the psychological state of living through that age.
And I deeply felt this dialogue between Cecilia and the doctor at the moment:
- You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets.
- Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl.
This film showed me an important script technique, which I try to use in my work - to blunt the pathos of a scene. That is to say, no matter how serious the scene is - at the end of it, we definitely come across some ordinary or funny detail that lowers the tension. For example, Cecilia's ghost comes to one of the boys at night, looks at him for a long time, but says ”God, you snore loud“ just before the alarm clock rings. The scene’s brilliance lies in its simplicity.
* 1989 Lutsk, Ukraine
Attended the Marina Razbezhkina School of Documentary Films and Theatre in 2012/2013 and made her first documentaries during that period. Her narrative feature debut Stop-Zemlia screened in competition in the Generation 14plus section of the 2021 Berlinale and won the Crystal Bear. She is a member of that section’s jury at the 2023 Berlinale.
Luca Guadagnino: Seishun Zankoku Monogatari
Video: Luca Guadagnino on his selection
I chose Seishun Zankoku Monogatari by Nagisa Ōshima for the deep impact this movie had on the history of cinema and on many filmmakers, including myself.
Perfectly embodied by the main characters, Ōshima's world view of life’s disillusionments is sure to continue to leave a mark on its audiences.
I've always been fascinated by how Ōshima's unique narration is so vivid and powerful, and I think this will be a wonderful addition to this year's program.
* 1971 in Palermo, Italy
Luca Guadagnino is a writer, director and producer. Many of his works have been part of Berlinale throughout the years. I am Love (2009) screened in the 2010 Culinary Cinema section, and the critically-acclaimed Call Me By Your Name was presented in the Panorama section in 2017. After the success of Bones And All, released in theaters in November 2022, Luca Guadagnino's latest works include Challengers, coming out this year, and Queer, adapted from William S. Burroughs’ eponymous novel, currently in pre-production.
Ryūsuke Hamaguchi: Taifū kurabu
Video: Ryūsuke Hamaguchi on his selection
It is obvious that just because you reach a certain age does not mean you suddenly become an adult. You, young people, must anticipate that someday you will feel like fully grown adults. But I can assure you, the child will continue to reside within you. And it should. Perhaps becoming aware of the presence of the child within you, and learning how to protect it, is what it means to be an adult. So this is a film about children who are not strangers to you. They are Asian children, more than 30 years ago now. They are full of vitality, wanting something, but frustrated because they can’t get it. They find friends and feel joy. But they break up. And so it goes on and on. Across time and distance, are these children not a bit like you ... a little while ago, or even today? I want you to find it out. And use this as a clue to care for the child who continues to live within you.
* 1978 in Kawasaki, Japan
Hamaguchi studied art and film in Tokyo. Following his thesis film Passion (2008), he made documentaries and attracted international attention with his five-hour female-centric Happy Hour (2015). Women also steal the show in his anthology film Guzen to sozo (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), which won the Jury Grand Prix in the 2021 Competition. He was a member of the 2022 International Jury, winning an Oscar that same year for Drive My Car.
Ethan Hawke: Rumble Fish
Video: Ethan Hawke on his selection
As an actor who got his start in Dead Poets Society and matured into adult acting through the making of Boyhood, I finally feel myself qualified to speak on the subject “The Coming of Age Film.”
I’ve read that Coppola calls Rumble Fish “an art film for teenagers.” It functioned that way for me. It took my superficial interest in the sexiness of The Outsiders and challenged me with more sophisticated ideas – the fluid nature of time, the existential angst of waiting for an adult life to arrive.
As Rusty James, Matt Dillon gives one of the great juvenile performances of all time – lapping James Dean, in my opinion. Mickey Rourke stands beside him, looking an awful lot like Albert Camus. Dennis Hopper floats like a ghost, embodying the disappointment we all feel about what our parents are not.
I’m sure some audiences will see Rumble Fish as a boy picture, but it’s boy picture with a female gaze. S.E. Hinton taught us all so much about what coming of age looks like – and what not coming of age looks like. I showed my daughter Rumble Fish when she was sixteen. As the credits rolled, she looked at me and said, “I finally understand you.”
I’m still not sure what she meant.
Actor, director, writer, novelist
* 1970 in Austin, USA
Hawke achieved widespread acclaim for his breakout role in Dead Poets Society (1989). He co-starred with Julie Delpy in Richard Linklater’s Gen X trilogy Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013), which debuted at the Berlinale. Hawke received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Linklater’s Boyhood (2014), which was shown in competition in Berlin. His feature directing credits include Chelsea Walls (2001), The Hottest State (2007), Blaze (2018), and his upcoming Flannery O’Connor biopic, Wildcat.
Karoline Herfurth: Muriel’s Wedding
Muriel’s Wedding is one of the most significant films of the 1990s and of my own youth. Muriel’s biggest dream is to become somebody’s bride, to finally be wanted and loved. She is utterly convinced that if a man married her, she would finally have value as a person. She would finally be worthy of love – and no longer the loser from small-town Porpoise Spit. By pure chance, she meets her first real friend, Rhonda, and that friendship helps her uncouple herself from her toxic family situation, with her narcissistic father and depressive mother, and replace her idealised dream with genuine self-confidence. In my youth, there were very few films about young women letting go of received, widespread ideals and finding their true selves. What you saw onscreen were perfect bodies and soft-rock fantasies come true, with the sole goal being desirable to men. So for me, Muriel’s Wedding was like a very real, warm hug that unlocked a different, healthier world. And now, as a filmmaker myself, the movie’s tonality and its inspiring combination of humour and hurt serves as a great model.
Actor, director, writer
* 1984 in East Berlin, GDR
Herfurth began acting in 2001 and has since appeared in more than 40 films, including the Suck Me Shakespeer trilogy (2013 – 2015), The Little Witch (2018) and The Perfect Secret (2019). The American co-production The Reader (2008) screened in Competition at the Berlinale. She made her directing debut with the short Mittelkleiner Mensch, followed by the successful features SMS für Dich, Sweethearts, Wunderschön, and Einfach mal was Schönes, which she not only directed, but also co-wrote the script and played the lead.
Niki Karimi: Khane-ye dust kojast
Khane-ye dust kojast is a magical film. I always think about the moment when I saw the film for the first time. I was 17 and I was stunned. I still feel the exact same sensation when I think about that first time, in my heart, mind, and body. Something out of this world, so pure and so human. Like good music or a symphony that touches your heart and you think it’s magical.
The boy, who always resembled for me the Little Prince from the novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, searches and searches through his little life and passes by that tree on the hill, taking all of us with him, yet again in search of humanity and kindness.
I have so many memories of this film. Watching it again with Abbas, and the time that we went to the famous hill up in the north of Iran, in Koker and spent time there, with me shooting video of the little actor, now grown up, Babak Ahmadpour‘s wedding many years ago and many memories.
Yet its a magical movie and it will be for all time.
* 1971 in Teheran, Iran
After making her screen-acting debut in 1989, the charismatic Iranian actor has won domestic and international awards. She directed her first documentary in 2001 and her first narrative feature in 2005. In 2007, she was a member of the GWFF Best First Feature Award jury. Ta farda (Until Tomorrow), which she produced, had its premiere at the 2022 Panorama. During the 2023 Berlinale, she will be a patron of the EFP’s European Shooting Stars promotion.
Nadine Labaki: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day off was one of those films that I watched a lot when I was a kid, especially on the days when we were stuck at home because of the war. That happened a lot, spending time at home or in shelters. I was born in 1974 so I grew up during the war in Lebanon.
What drew me to the film was everything Ferris Bueller represented – freedom, breaking all the rules, living and thinking outside the box, coming up with alternative ideas to almost everything. Growing up during war, lots of things were forbidden. It was forbidden to go outside, to play outside, forbidden to be a normal child.
Also, growing up as a little girl in the Arab world with lots of social pressure from around us, from our community, living up to everyone’s expectations, trying to be this very, wise role model. So the film represented rebellion against the system and I’ve always questioned the status quo. That’s why I love the film so much, because it represented rebellion against, and questioning, the system. And the music in it, the freedom in it, represented something that I was not able to do as a teenager, as a child. The film allowed me to escape the boredom of my own reality, and escape the pressure I felt around me. That's why it was one of my favourite films when I was growing up.
* 1974 in Baabda, Lebanon
Labaki studied film in Beirut and shot music videos before making her narrative debut with Caramel (2007), followed by Where Do We Go Now? (2011). Her films focus on women, as well as the civil war and social conflict in Lebanon. Her drama Capernaum, about a 12-year-old boy on the streets of Beirut, was nominated for an Oscar in 2018.
Nadav Lapid: De bruit et de fureur
Because the film invents its own reality instead of fabricating a lifelike imitation of real life. Because it’s not an issue film, as in ‘despair and violence in poor Parisian suburbs discriminated against by all French governments’, but a film about human existence, about being in this world. And its research is done not in a library or on Google, but inside the mind and the soul, using forms and colours, and words and their melody, as arguments and facts. Because its truth is the truth of cinema, the truth of a film, captured by the force of imagination, articulated by cinematic means, and not the truth as it supposedly happens; or an obedient truth following overly orchestrated plots. Because you cannot classify and define the section or type to which it belongs. It encompasses all of them and belongs to none of them. Because the film distances itself greatly from naturalism, going beyond the sky and the stars, beyond the fantastic, the daily, the comic, and the terrible. Because it gives away the earth in order to reach hell and attain grace — two things that are, of course, connected — before it recaptures the here and now. All of that and the distinctive facial expressions and body language of its two, maybe three, main actors, make De bruit et de fureur a unique movie about the tormented relations between the individual and the collective, and one of the most truthful movies I’ve seen.
De bruit et de fureur defies the seemingly cultivated social and political films that are so popular these days, reminding us that cinema can only engage with the specific if it engages with everything, including itself.
* 1975 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Lapid originally worked as an arts and sports journalist. He studied philosophy and history in Tel Aviv, and French in Paris. He was a guest at the Panorama in 2005 with his short film Road, made at the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem. He made his feature debut in 2011 with Policeman. Lapid was back at the Berlinale in 2015 with his short film Why?, and winning a Golden Bear for Synonyms in Competition in 2019, as well as the FIPRESCI Award. He was part of the 2021 Berlinale International Jury. .
Sergei Loznitsa: Gražuolė
If I was to describe the film Gražuolė by Arūnas Žebriūnas in a few words, I would most probably use the quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: ”What is essential is invisible to the eye“. Invisible does not mean unfathomable. The film's protagonist, little Inga, performs a mesmerizing ritual dance, during which an ugly duckling is transformed into a beautiful swan. The innocence, sincerity, purity and kindness of the little heroine is like a healing balm soothing wounded souls.
Arūnas Žebriūnas (1930–2013) is one of the most important and gifted Lithuanian filmmakers of his generation, a pioneer of Lithuanian poetic cinema and the creator of the first ever Lithuanian film musical, Velnio nuotaka (Devil's Bride, 1973). The protagonists of many of Žebriūnas’ films are children. Their first encounters with the world of adults are seen in his films as an experience of losing something crucially important, without which life can become meaningless. ”I didn't make films for children, but I made films with children“, Arūnas Žebriūnas used to say. At a time when artistic freedom was suppressed by state ideology, when Lithuania was under Soviet occupation and telling the truth was a risky business, which could leave one without one's profession or even without one's life, when artists were looking for ways to remain honest and to continue to follow their calling, Arūnas Žebriūnas had found his unique way and unique voice.
* 1964 in Baranovitchi, Belarus
Loznitsa studied mathematics in Kyiv, then film in Moscow. He has made ca. 26 documentaries since 1996, primarily on Soviet history for the St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio, as well as narrative features including My Joy (2010), In the Fog (2012), A Gentle Creature (2017), and Donbass (2018). Loznitsa has lived in Berlin since 2007, and has been running his own production company, Atoms & Voids, since 2014. His documentary Den’ Pobedy (Victory Day) was shown at the 2018 Forum.
Mohammad Rasoulof: Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle
It was the early years of my teenage life when I accidentally came across a twenty-one-inch black and white television. I was totally fascinated by the images broadcast by Iranian state TV.
In those years, there were only two TV channels in Iran, state-owned, with strict Islamic criteria and censorship policies. The use of home video devices was prohibited, and having a video tape was considered a crime.
In such a pressured atmosphere, I was deeply affected by watching a strange story of a patriarchal power that had ignored very basic human rights from birth, and had taken away someone‘s opportunity to live as a human bein
Years later, I was able to find the title of the film that fascinated me as a teenager. Interpreted metaphorically, the story, in which the constraints of the reigning powers rendered Kaspar a victim of his own will, evoked for me the political conditions in Iran. I still haven't forgotten the experience of watching that movie and its metaphorical impact on me.
Now that I am writing this note from Evin prison, while I hear news about people rising up, especially women and the young, I believe that a new effort by people to determine their fate themselves has already begun.
I don't know what will happen in the coming weeks or months, but I am determined that Iran today will never return to it’s previous conditions.
Woman, Life, Freedom
* 1972 in Shiraz, Iran
Rasoulof made his first short films while studying sociology. His eight feature-length films, including Lerd (A Man of Integrity) (2017), were lauded internationally, but fell victim to Iranian censors. His perceived anti-government stance has led to a host of legal problems at home, including a 2010 arrest and, in 2017, the seizure of his passport and a ban on leaving the country. In Berlin, Rasoulof won the 2020 Golden Bear for Sheytan vojud nadarad (There is no Evil) and served on the 2021 online International Jury of the Berlinale. Arrested again in 2022, he is facing charges of fomenting social unrest.
Céline Sciamma: Not a Pretty Picture
When facing the question of choice among the coming-of-age corpus I was alternating between selecting a film that shook me as a teenager, or a film that shook me about teenagers. It all became clear when I decided to pick a film I wished I had seen as a teenager. It would have to be Marta Coolidge’s directorial debut Not a Pretty Picture. She produced it in 1976 so I could have encountered the film as a teen in the 90s but I only learned about its existence in 2019.
I wish I had, because as a young cinephile the film would have transmitted both knowledge about a culture of abuse, and about the resistance to that culture through the innovative use of the language of cinema. And how that makes a great movie. Not a Pretty Picture feels strikingly close to contemporary narratives and the reflexive politics around the gaze. It means it contributed to inventing them all. I am glad that it is going to be shown on the big screen, as the decisive contribution to cinema that it is.
* 1978 in Pontoise, France
Sciamma studied French literature at Nanterre and screenwriting at La Fémis film school. She made her directing debut with Water Lilies in 2007. Her second feature Tomboy opened the 2011 Panorama section and won the TEDDY AWARD. She has also won prizes for her films Girlhood (2014) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). Her 2021 coming-of-age drama Petite Maman premiered in Competition in Berlin.
Martin Scorsese: Prima della rivoluzione
Video: Martin Scorsese on his selection
In 1964, when I was 21 years old and just about to turn 22, I had a short film in The New York Film Festival, which allowed me and a friend of mine to attend press screenings in Avery Fisher Hall. There was a picture by a new Italian filmmaker. My friend said: “I heard good things about this one, let’s go.” That first time I saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s Prima della rivoluzione, I was overcome with awe, occasional bewilderment, amazement… pure emotion. Actually, I have a hard time describing it. To this day, I get choked up.
Here was a film by a young man, my age, speaking of his own life and his own world just like I was trying to do—and he had really done it. He had transmitted all of his feelings and ideas and conflicts, and expressed the very texture of his life through cinema. He came from a literary background, and his reference points were Verdi and Stendhal. This was a world that was completely foreign to me, which is why I was so surprised by the depth of emotion I experienced as I watched the film. But he spoke to me through the language of cinema. His images seemed to flow right out of him straight into the viewer. In this case, to me.
Prima della rivoluzione inspired me, drove me to make my own work. As I sat there and watched it that first time, I knew that I had been lucky enough to be present for the emergence of a new cinematic voice, a presence, of poetry and beauty and absolutely overwhelming talent. It was a moment that marked me for life.
* 1942 in New York, USA
Martin Scorsese is an Academy Award-winning director and one of the most influential filmmakers working today. His films include Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993), Casino (1995) and The Irishman (2019).
He has been a Berlinale guest on two occasions, with the Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light (2008) and the thriller Shutter Island (2010) and in 2013, the Deutsche Kinemathek mounted an exhibition dedicated to his work.
Scorsese has also directed numerous documentaries, including Italianamerican (1974), The Last Waltz (1978), My Voyage to Italy (1999), Living in the Material World (2011), and the Peabody Award-winning No Direction Home (2005) and A Letter to Elia (2010). Scorsese is the founder and chair of The Film Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting motion picture history.
Aparna Sen: Aparajito
Video: Aparna Sen on her selection
With Aparajito, the second film in Satyajit Ray’s celebrated Apu trilogy, Apu’s journey begins – from village to city, from childhood to adolescence, from the confines of home to the outside world. Almost symbolically, the film opens with the abstract lines of a bridge passing, out of focus, in the foreground – a shot taken out of a speeding train. Though we cannot see Apu, we can surmise his presence easily. Ray keeps us waiting before he actually reveals the boy, leisurely establishing the ancient riverside city of Benares. When we see him at last, Apu who is still very much a child, is playing with newly acquired friends, running through the narrow lanes of the holy city, adroitly passing between the legs of a bull that is blocking the way. During the course of this sensitive film, Apu grows up, encounters his father’s death, and moves to his uncle’s rural home with his mother. He starts going to school and becomes interested in science and geography, as is evident in the globe that he carries with him everywhere, and the sundial he constructs in the courtyard of their home. His relationship with his mother is tested again and again, until she finally passes away leaving Apu grief-stricken, but free – free to venture out into the world on his own.
I think the reason why I chose Aparajito as my favourite coming-of-age film was because of its complex compound of emotional ties, with their quotient of heartbreak, and the severance of those ties with the exultation that accompanies it. When handled by a master, it resonates in a way that makes you keep coming back to it again and again.
Actor, director, screenwriter
* 1945 Kolkata, India
Sen made her acting debut in Satyajit Ray’s 1961 Three Daughters. She directed her first narrative feature in 1981. Her films about women’s lives and religious divisions in India include Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002) and have garnered Sen an international reputation. In 2021, she directed The Rapist, with her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma in the lead. Sen was a guest at the 2004 Berlinale Talent Campus.
M. Night Shyamalan: The Last Picture Show
Video: M. Night Shyamalan on his selection
I'm so excited to recommend The Last Picture Show. It's one of the most meaningful movies to me. I have a poster of it in my theater, in my projection room, so every time I go to turn on the projector, that poster is there. It's one of the classic coming-of-age movies for me. It's one of the classic movies period. Because it represents one of the great principles of moviemaking, that every scene is about the same subject as the movie itself. It has the perfect facets of a diamond. So every scene is about characters in a small town wishing for more, wanting more, pushing and striving and breaking the rules that bind them. And when you're growing up, that's the first feeling you have: Rules, I don't want them anymore. I want to define who I am. This is such a beautiful story of those that try and fail. And the cinema is so effortlessly formal and yet raw. It has that thing I dream of doing, which is the integrity of the frame. Yet the performances are so natural and real and uncomfortable to watch because they're alive and messy in a way. That juxtaposition of the formal and the messy makes for something really, really, really beautiful. It's a precious movie to me.
M. Night Shyamalan
* 1970 in Mahé, India
Shyamalan grew up near Philadelphia and studied film at NYU. His breakthrough film was the Oscar-nominated psychological thriller The Sixth Sense in 1999, which he followed with additional horror and mystery films, including Signs (2002), The Visit (2015), and Split (2017). Shyamalan was president of the 2022 International Jury. His most recent film is Knock at the Cabin (2023).
Carla Simón: El espíritu de la colmena
Video: Carla Simón on her selection
“It is one of the strangest stories ever told. It’s about the great mysteries of creation: life and death. Prepare yourselves. You may be shocked, or even horrified. Few films have had greater impact all over the world. But I would advise you not to take it too seriously.” This is how Frankenstein is introduced to young Ana when a travelling cinema comes to her Spanish village. And this is how I felt watching The spirit of beehive.
Víctor Erice portrays childhood as the most mysterious and haunted moment of our existence. Through her enormous eyes, Ana discovers life, while mixing reality with fantasy, and living people with ghosts. I don’t want Ana to grow up because her imagination reinterprets the world as the most exciting and enigmatic place, even if she lives in an obscure post-civil war context.
Light and shadow dance together to paint a story about the power of cinema to make us grow up and develop our own sensibilities. In fact, cinema could play a big role in any coming-of-age story. I’ve never seen The spirit of beehive on a big screen. I hope this will be my chance to fix that inexcusable omission.
* 1986 in Barcelona, Spain
Simón studied audio-visual communication in Barcelona and California, and attended the London Film School. She took part in Berlinale Talents in 2015, where she was selected for the Script Station with the screenplay for her feature debut Summer 1993. In 2017, the film won the International Jury Grand Prix in the Generation Kplus section, and the GWFF Best First Feature award. Her Alcarràs won the 2022 Golden Bear.
Abderrahmane Sissako: Touki Bouki
I discovered the work of Djibril Diop Mambéty with Touki Bouki, which I saw just as I finished my film studies at Moscow’s VGIK. It was a shock, an emotional shock, just as I felt when I saw Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker for the first time.
Djibril is one of those filmmakers who is driven by the need to let out the spirit that lives inside them. That often involves a certain suffering but, above all, great freedom or madness. That is what makes the film Touki Bouki so important – first off, in its form and then in its content (or meaning).
For me, the honour that the Berlinale is according him is an opportunity to remember the person Djibril Diop Mambéty. The man who always called me “Papa”, a paradox unique to him – since he was older than I. But I have the same given name as his father, whom he greatly respected.
Djibril is first and foremost a poet of words – and of silence. He spoke with his eyes closed, as if he were reading the words from an invisible screen. So perhaps it is best to watch Touki Bouki with your eyes closed. Thank you.
* 1961 in Kiffa, Mauretania
Sissako grew up in Mali, studied film in Moscow, and has lived in Paris since the 1990s. He showed at the 1997 Documenta. His films, including Bamako (2006) and the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu (2014) deal with globalisation and exile. He was a member of the International Jury in 2003, and an advisor at the Berlinale Talent Campus in 2011. He won the Berlin Academy of Arts Konrad Wolf Prize in 2021.
Kristen Stewart: Now and Then
It was almost impossible to feel visible in the 90’s. We all held different secret storms but they were congruent… if you were a girl. Christina Ricci taping down her tits with a roll of paper tape and nabbing a photo of her dead mom before slamming through rowdy boys to get OUT to the only people in the world that understood her, her BEST friends… felt like a call to arms. It felt like sage advice. Find your friends. So you can exist.
Now and Then felt like a secret world so familiar, yet so rarified, as experienced OUTSIDE of the body, I was… struck. These girls were dealing with their bodies bouncing off the sex of the world, with disintegrating families and ideals, with grief and their first existential spirals. They were juggling joy and fear and sorrow and picking the right boy to send over in Red Rover. I can't think of another insider's view as spot on as this. It's weird to try and describe it now to a presumed outsider because the sense memory of holding this unshareable mystery, what we call our “selves”, still makes me feel 12. I'd say, watch the movie. It's the most fun ever.
* 1990 in Los Angeles, USA
Stewart made her screen debut in 2000, gained attention as Jodie Foster’s daughter in the 2002 Panic Room, and achieved international fame with the Twilight Saga (2008–2012). She was a Berlinale guest in 2010 with Welcome to the Rileys. In 2015, she won France’s César prize for Clouds of Sils Maria. In the last few years, she has embodied (Jean) Seberg (2019) and Princess Diana in Spencer (2021). She is president of the 2023 International Jury.
Tilda Swinton: Kiseye Berendj
It is my sincere pleasure to have this chance to introduce those that may not know it to Kiseye Berendj, simply one of my favourite films of all time.
This film works miracles on us. We each alchemically become a small girl as we watch it. Solitary, watchful, then steadfast and courageous.
We become her elderly neighbour, tentative and dependent, short sighted and frail. Maybe we also become a big bag of rice, travelling across Tehran, totemically precious and perilous, but full of nourishment and promise. All three beings who are reliant on the kindness of strangers. And all three finding the help they need through thick and thin.
I salute and thank Mohammad-Ali Talebi for giving us this masterpiece. It holds the magic to make us feel better about living among human beings. And points us to the bright horizon of a future founded on compassion and fellowship. This work is a battery for hope, faith and love; and cinema is rarely more valuable than that.
* 1960 in London, England
Swinton began appearing in films in 1986, and has often been seen in the Panorama and Forum sections with films by Derek Jarman, Christoph Schlingensief, and Cynthia Beatt. Her international breakthrough came with Orlando (1992). The Beach screened in Competition in 2000. She won an Oscar in 2008 for her role in Michael Clayton. Swinton headed up the 2009 International Jury. In 2016, her project about John Berger, The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, screened as a Berlinale Special.
Wim Wenders: Rebel Without a Cause
To me, Rebel Without a Cause is the archetypical coming-of-age film and Nicholas Ray was the ideal director for that undertaking, a true visionary at the start of a worldwide youth movement triggered by the film.
Ray’s empathy lies entirely with his young leads and he is all too aware of their yearnings, what they are rebelling against, and how they express their conflicts with clothing, gestures, or their bodies.
James Dean was, of course, the ideal actor to embody that.
I once talked to Nick Ray about working with Dean and asked him how he prepared the actor for the film. He thought about it for a few moments before saying, simply and laconically, “I taught him how to walk”.
I didn’t consider that an exaggeration. Dean was the purest form of turning the interior into the exterior. Whatever he had to say, he articulated it physically.
It is an interesting exercise to look at all the scenes in which the whole youth gang is visible, and to look away from James Dean to Dennis Hopper, who was always in the midst of the cohort. Not for a moment does he take his eyes off James Dean, “listening” to the latter’s body language as if spellbound.
The new “attitude” does not come across here with dialogue or the traditional generational conflict, but solely by the reinvention of physicality – through a new grammar and a new vocabulary that can be defined just by a turn of a head, by how a cigarette is held, or indeed by movement – how you stand or walk.
* 1945 in Düsseldorf, West Germany
Wim Wenders came to international prominence as one of the pioneers of the New German Cinema during the 1970’s and is today one of the most renowned representatives of international contemporary cinema. His body of work comprises over 50 fiction and documentary films, among them many prize-winning narratives, such as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire. He won the 2000 Berlinale Silver Bear for The Million Dollar Hotel. Most recently, the festival has shown his 3-D projects Pina (2011) and Cathedrals of Culture (2014), and Every Thing Will be Fine in 2015, when he was also the subject of the Homage and received an Honorary Golden Bear. Wim Wenders and the Deutsche Kinemathek have worked together for years.
Jasmila Žbanić: Sedmikrásky
These days, when the dictatorship of virtual algorithms dictates how to tell stories and what movies should look like, Sedmikrásky offers us a free territory. It shows us that we are not lost, even when totalitarianism takes over. Today when we have a different kind of totalitarianism - disguised with the colourfulness of commercialism and single-mindedness, wrapped in free market ideology, it is such a refreshing experience to meander through Sedmikrásky. Věra Chytilová combines styles, rhythm, and a film language that follows the logic of an internal energy that is lively, young, crazy. Sedmikrásky uses poetry, humour, and beauty in an anarchistic and revolutionary way that helps expose the false morals of society. It’s such a joy to watch this movie again and again.
* 1974 in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Yugoslavia
Jasmila Žbanić graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo. In 1997, she co-founded the artists’ association Deblokada and produced, wrote and directed documentaries, video installations and shorts. She also worked as a puppeteer at Bread and Puppet in Vermont. Her theatrical feature debut, Grbavica: Land of My Dreams, won the Berlinale Golden Bear in 2006. Her latest film Quo Vadis, Aida? premiered at the Venice Film Festival, won multiple awards, including the European Film Award, and was nominated for an Oscar and two BAFTAs. Most recently she was added to the directors’ roster for the TV series The Last of Us.