LOS ANGELES, Jan 12, (RTRS): The Berlin Film Festival has added another nine titles to its competition lineup, including Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune,” Danis Tanovic’s “Death in Sarajevo,” Andre Techine’s “Being 17” and Mia Hansen-Love’s “Things to Come.”
Danish helmer Vinterberg is best known for “The Celebration,” which was BAFTA and Golden Globes nominated, and won Cannes’ Jury Prize, and “The Hunt,” which picked up nominations at the Globes, BAFTAs and Oscars.
“The Commune,” whose ensemble cast is lead by Trine Dyrholm and Ulrich Thomsen, centers on the clash between personal desires, solidarity and tolerance in a commune in the 70s. TrustNordisk is handling international sales.
Bosnian director Tanovic is best known for “No Man’s Land,” which won best screenplay at Cannes, and a Golden Globe and an Oscar for best foreign-language film. “Death in Sarajevo,” which is being sold by The Match Factory, is based on a play, “Hotel Europe,” by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. The film is about “the existential fears, anxieties and moral dilemmas that plague modern European society,” according to the production company Pro.ba.
Techine’s “Being 17,” which was co-written by Celine Sciamma (“Tomboy”) and toplines Sandrine Kiberlain, turns on the relationship between two teenagers. The movie is produced by Fidelity Films and sold by Elle Driver.
Techine’s previous film, “In the Name of My Daughter” played out of competition at Berlin. Among the vet helmer’s early films were “Wild Reeds,” which won four Cesar Awards, and “Rendez-vous,” which won best director at Cannes, and a Cesar.
Hansen-Love’s “Things to Come,” the young helmer’s follow up to “Eden,” stars Isabelle Huppert as a 57-year-old philosophy professor who enters a new chapter in her life after her husband and children leave the house. Huppert stars opposite Andre Marcon, Edith Scob and Roman Kolinka. The film is produced by CG Cinema (“Mustang”), and is repped by Les Films du Losange.
Gianfranco Rosi’s “Fire at Sea,” which is being sold by Doc & Film Intl., has also been selected. The film is about the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, near the North African coast, which has become a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis. Rosi’s previous docu “Sacro GRA” won the Venice Golden Lion in 2013, becoming the first doc to win the Lido’s top prize.
“Letters From War,” which is the second feature from Portugal’s Ivo Ferreira (“April, Showers”), is also in the Berlin lineup. It adapts Antonio Lobo Antunes’ epistolary novel about a young doctor in Portugal’s Angola Colonial War of 1971-73. It is produced by Luis Urbano at Lisbon-based O Som a a Furia, which also backed Miguel Gomes’ “This Month of August,” “Tabu” and “Arabian Nights.”
Also competing in Berlin is Iranian auteur Mani Haghighi’s “A Dragon Arrives!”Haghighi is known for 2006 absurdist comedy “Men at Work,” which was based on an idea by Abbas Kiarostami, and more recently tragicomedy “Modest Reception,” which screened in the Berlin fest’s Forum section in 2012.
Also competing will be “United States of Love” from Polish helmer Tomasz Wasilewski, whose last film “Floating Skyscrapers” won the East of West Award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery” from Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz, whose film “From What Is Before” won the Golden Leopard at Locarno, and whose “Norte, the End of History” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Awards last year.
Beta Cinema has picked up “Sand Storm,” which is set to world premiere in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Israeli drama, shot in Arabic by debut-writer/director Elite Zexer, will have its debut at Sundance on Jan. 25, and the European premiere will follow in the Berlinale’s Panorama section in February. “Sand Storm” took the top award at the Locarno festival’s works-in-progress section.
The film is produced by Haim Mecklberg and Estee Yacov-Mecklberg at Israel’s 2-Team Productions, which also produced “The Farewell Party,” winner of the Venice Public Choice Award. Beta also handled sales on “The Farewell Party.”
As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Southern Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles across eldest daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university — a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Burying the indignity of Suliman and his new bride living next door, Jalila also tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her. But younger and possessed of a boundless spirit, Layla sees a different life for herself.
Zexer said: “‘Sand Storm’ is 87 minutes, but for me, it’s years. Years of an amazing ride, of passions, of struggles, of ups, of downs, of pure joy, of forever waiting or of an impossible run. Years of creation. What I learned during the making of this film is that the most wonderful part of filmmaking is the making. It’s hard to part with it and let it run loose in the world. But it’s also very exciting. I can’t wait.”
Mecklberg said: “We’re extremely proud of ‘Sand Storm,’ which touched the hearts of everybody who was exposed to it so far. Our collaboration with Elite was a sheer delight. Her command of every aspect of the film did not cease to amaze us through every step of the production.”
Beta Cinema’s Thorsten Ritter said: “’Sand Storm’ is a true gem. It depicts a very particular world and culture, but never in a folkloristic or exposing way. Instead it draws you right in to find yourself immersed in family dynamics that resonate universally and regardless of being a man or woman. And while the film has not a scene too many, it is yet nuanced and multi-layered, featuring beautiful performances and a filmmaker in full command.”