Berlinale: Programme

Film file

Panorama Special

Berlin Syndrome

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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.

Cate Shortland

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)


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


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

Produced by

Aquarius Films

World sales

Memento Films International