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Panorama 2023: Tracking the Unseen. Films as Tools of Resistance

La Sirène by Sepideh Farsi
La Sirène by Sepideh Farsi

Films from Ukraine, Yemen and about Iran are among the first to have been confirmed for the Panorama line-up which also features strong feminist cinema from the US. The 2023 programme manifests a worldwide trend towards transnational filmmaking in both fiction films and documentaries. Of the 14 films selected, eleven are world premieres, with a total of 19 countries involved. There are new films by Sepideh Farsi, Jennifer Reeder, Tina Satter, Sacha Polak, Malene Choi and Ira Sachs.

“This year features impressive independent filmmaking from across the globe. The many works by filmmakers worldwide who are using their films to defy war, systematic persecution and oppression are particularly striking. The trend towards transnational filmmaking is reflected in the numerous strong submissions. This all creates a rich breeding ground for a wide-ranging, highly topical 2023 Panorama,” observes section head Michael Stütz.

The film collective Babylon’13, which includes director Roman Liubyi, completed their documentary Iron Butterflies during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This German co-production uncovers the complex tragedy of the war with forensic precision. In her stirring animated film La Sirène, Iranian director Sepideh Farsi depicts the fateful first Iraq-Iran war, the effects of which can still be felt in Iranian society today. In Al Murhaqoon, director Amr Gamal focuses on the looming decline of a middle-class family, in a Yemen ravaged by civil war, where an unwanted pregnancy provokes many questions. All three films use their different stylistic approaches to illuminate acts of war in various periods – as well as the international repercussions and inevitable consequences these conflicts have for their civil societies.

US indie cinema is distinguishing itself this year with two particularly strong contributions: Tina Satter’s debut film Reality focuses on the arrest of the American whistle-blower Reality Winner whilst Jennifer Reeder confirms with Perpetrator her status as the genre queen of independent US cinema. Her subversive film throws conventions to the wind but knows exactly what needs to be shown to empower her characters and her audiences.

Art thief Nemo fights for sheer survival in Inside by Vasilis Katsoupis. But the merciless security system of a luxury apartment is no match for the great Willem Dafoe. Who is outperforming whom here?

Among the topics explored from a documentary perspective are a reappraisal of the film-historical legacy of the West African country of Guinea in Au cimetière de la pellicule by Thierno Souleymane Diallo; the trans*FARC alliance in Joris Lachaise’s engaging long-term observational project Transfariana; and the everyday life of the young pupils in the Stams ski boarding school in Bernhard Braunstein’s eponymous cinematic portrait.

In 2023, queer cinema will be making a particularly strong showing in the programme. On February 24, the TEDDY AWARD will be presented for the thirty-seventh time; back at last in front of a full house in the much-loved Volksbühne theatre. And, in keeping with tradition, on the final Sunday of the festival the Panorama Audience Award will be presented in cooperation with radioeins and rbb Fernsehen TV channel. We are looking forward to a festival with cinemas filled to capacity, shoulder-to-shoulder with a European Film Market that is being held as an in-person event.

Overview of the Panorama films announced on December 15.

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