One of the most highly anticipated films for the Golden Bear award for the competition – which runs February 20-March 1 — is German-Afghan director Burhan Qurbani’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, which transforms Alfred Doeblin’s 1929 German classic into modern times with a refugee from Africa as the main character.
Russian film DAU. Natasha by Ilya Khrzhanovsky and Jekaterina Oertel, and Iran’s Sheytan vojud nadarad (There Is No Evil) by Mohammad Rasoulof are also among the finalists.
Overall, the festival’s main competition has a heavy focus on arthouse-style movies that draw on sensitive themes, including immigration, family life, and opposition to political authorities.
“I want to have films that talk about the world we live in,” the festival’s new artistic director, Carlo Chatrian, told Berlin foreign correspondents on February 14.
The number of films to be screened during the 10-day festival, also known as the Berlinale, has been reduced to 340 from about 400 last year.
Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is expected for a screening of a documentary about her political life, called Hillary.
The festival. which was started during the early days of the Cold War, was the center of controversy last year when it was forced to suspend the presentation of the Alfred Bauer Prize — named after the Berlinale’s first director — after a media report revealed details about his ties to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, and other links to the party before and during World War II.