The Berlin International Film Festival on Wednesday unveiled the final films for its 2023 Panorama section, the Berlinale’s main sidebar.
The 2023 lineup includes several world premieres, including Femme, the debut feature from directors Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, a drag artist revenge thriller staring 1917 actor George MacKay and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett; The Beast in the Jungle, from Austrian director Patric Chiha (Brothers of the Night), an adaptation of the Henry James novel, starring Anaïs Demoustier, Tom Mercier and Beatrice Dalle; and Joan Baez I Am A Noise, a documentary on the legendary folk singer, from directors Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky and Maeve O’Boyle.
Berlin added another music-themed documentary, Nenad Cicin-Sain-directed Kiss the Future, to its Berlinale Specials line-up of non-competition films. The movie tells the story of aid-worker Bill Carter and his efforts to secure the support of rock band U2 to help efforts to raise awareness of the suffering of the citizens of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.
Femme co-stars Candyman actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and is based on Freeman and Ping’s 2021 BAFTA-nominated short film of the same name. Stewart-Jarrett plays a drag queen whose life is destroyed by a homophobic attack who, after he spots one of the perpetrators (MacKay) in a gay sauna, plots revenge.
After Marie Kreutzer’s Oscar contender Corsage, Panorama will get another historic revisionist take on Austrian Empress Elizabeth, aka Sisi, with Sisi & I, a German drama from director Frauke Finsterwalder, featuring Susanne Wolff (The Stranger in Me) as Sisi, and also starring Sandra Hüller, Georg Friedrich, Stefan Kurt and Sophie Hutter.
Chinese star Fan Bingbing returns to Berlin with the world premiere of Han Shuai’s Green Night, where she headlines alongside Lee Joo Young as female fighters who venture into Seoul’s underworld in search of liberation from their useless husbands.
Other Panorama highlights include the documentary And, Towards Happy Alleys from India filmmaker Sreemoyee Singh, a look at the cinema an poetry of Iran, which features imprisoned dissident director Jafar Panahi; the German drama The Teachers’ Lounge from director İlker Çatak, starring Leonie Benesch; and All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White, the debut feature from Nigerian director Babatunde Apalowo | with Tope Tedela, Riyo David, Martha Ehinome Orhiere, Uchechika Elumelu, Floyd Anekwe.
Other Panorama titles, previously announced, include Ira Sachs’ Passages, a Paris-set drama featuring Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulous and German actor Franz Rogowski, which will have its European premiere in Berlin; the Jennifer Reeder-directed Perpetrator, described as a “bloody coming-of-age story” featuring Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Lowell and Kiah McKirnan; and Reality, the directorial debut of filmmaker Tina Satter, featuring The White Lotus and Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney as NSA whistleblower Reality Winner. Both Perpetrator and Reality will be Berlin world premieres.
Willem Dafoe returns to Berlin’s Panorama section with Inside from Greek director Vasilis Katsoupis, in which he plays an art thief who gets trapped in a swanky New York penthouse in the middle of a job, while Sacha Polak, director of 2019 Rotterdam Film Festival entry Dirty God, is bringing her follow-up, Silver Haze, to the Berlinale sidebar. The feature follows the story of a nurse from a rough East London neighborhood and stars Vicky Knight and Esmé Creed-Miles.
On the documentary side, the Ukrainian film Iron Butterflies from director Roman Liubyi, a look at the shooting down by Russian-backed Ukraine separatists of Malaysian passenger jet MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, will have its European premiere in Panorama; as will Transfariana from director Joris Lachaise, which follows the love story between a trans ex-sex worker and a FARC guerrilla that begins in a Colombian prison and leads to an unexpected alliance between trans activists and FARC militants.
The films for the main Berlinale competition will be announced next week. The 73rd Berlinale runs Feb. 16-26. Twilight and Clouds of Sils Maria star Kristen Stewart will head up the 2023 Berlinale competition jury, which will judge the films in Berlin’s main section. The 2023 Berlinale will also feature a homage to director Steven Spielberg, who will receive an honorary Golden Bear for his life’s work.