Berlinale Film Festival 2017: eight brand new films building serious buzz

The Berlinale – aka the Berlin Film Festival – just wrapped up its 67th year. Here are eight of the most buzz-tastic, notable entries from this year’s fest.

1. On The Road

What’s it about? This is a documentary following Wolf Alice on tour. Like Wolf Alice, British director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, The Trip) mixes the polished with the rough: On The Road is a bold hybrid which mixes conventional tour footage with a subdued fictional sub-narrative.
What’s the buzz? Fans will find much to enjoy – backstage footage of Ellie and the gang affords an engrossing intimacy.

On The Road Press

2. Golden Exits

What’s it about? Naomi, a twenty-something Australian who, upon arriving in New York, is enlisted to work in close proximity with married archivist, Nick. She attracts suspicion from his wife: envy and temptation from everyone else.
Who’s in it? Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, and Emily Browning, who played Violet in the 2004 film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
What’s the buzz? Alex Ross Perry’s film is full of Mumblecore tropes – failing relationships, self-imposed prisons and restless frustration – but he does so without leaving humour behind.

3. I Am Not Your Negro

What’s it about? Documentary exploring the history of racism in the USA.
Who’s in it? Samuel L. Jackson narrates.
What’s the buzz? It’s already earned itself an Oscar nomination. Using words from an unfinished article written 37 years ago by civil rights proponent James Baldwin, it’s an extremely powerful rallying cry: the cinematic equivalent of a TED talk par excellence.

4. The Party

What’s it about? Calling itself a “comedy wrapped around a tragedy”, The Party is a gathering from hell, full of zinging one-liners and cutting putdowns.
Who’s in it? Kristin Scott Thomas, Cillian Murphy, Timothy Spall, Emily Mortimer
What’s the buzz? This claustrophobic and taut chamber piece is is hard to pin down: caustic but unapologetic, hysterical but peculiarly poignant – but most importantly, it’s an out-and-out hoot.

5. Butterfly Kisses

What’s it about? A group of teenagers on a London estate. “They all have their own demons,” reads the film’s synopsis, “but Jake’s secret is one that he can’t tell anyone.”
Who’s in it? The most recognisable is Thomas Turgoose, who played Shaun in This Is England.
What’s the buzz? In his first feature – shot in an austere monochrome – former banker Rafael Kapelinski combines the scabrous detail of Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank with a street-savvy punch of Shane Meadows’ work.

6. Django

What’s it about? It’s a biopic of guitar wizard Django Reinhardt, focussing on his attempts to flee German-occupied Paris in 1943.
Who’s in it? Reda Kateb, who viewers may remember from Zero Dark Thirty, plays Django.
What’s the buzz? Kateb impressively realises the legend as an impulsive and, at times, selfish man who just happened to have a startling talent. In the end though, Comar allows Reinhardt some redeeming features.


7. Berlin Syndrome

What’s it about? Australian tourist Clare, who becomes stuck like a fly in a web after she embraces the spontaneity afforded by charismatic local teacher Andi.
Who’s in it? Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge) and Max Riemelt (Sense8)
What’s the buzz? A hit at Sundance, Berlin Syndrome is a rousing shot of adrenaline. It’s not particularly intellectual, but it’s lightning-paced – and you’ll be trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle up to the very last scene.

Berlin Syndrome

8. The Dinner

What’s it about? Two brothers and their wives come together for an awkward meal, after an event involving their respective children.
Who’s in it? Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall and Steve Coogan
What’s the buzz? It’s all a little too Woody Allen – who wants to watch a group of entitled, moneyed and narcissistic egos masticate in a posh restaurant for a few hours?

Words: Greg Wetherall