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MetFilm at the Berlin Film Festival 2023

By Elise Czyzowska

27 February 2023

Over the last two weeks, Berlin has been the place to be for anyone interested in film. Of course, we’re speaking about the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), the annual film festival in Germany’s capital city.

The programme, described as ‘diverse, indepenent, and daring’, included highly anticipated films, from the opening premiere of Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me, to Celine Song’s Past Lives, and even a sci-fi thriller in the newest film from Brandon Cronenberg, Infinity Pool.

This year’s International Jury was led by Kristen Stewart, joined on the judging panel by the likes of Valeska Grisebach, Johnnie To, and actor Golshifteh Farahani.

We are pleased to share our recap of the festival, including many familiar faces from throughout the MetFilm community…

Highlights from the 73rd Berlinale

This year’s much-coveted Golden Bear for best film went to Nicolas Philibert’s On The Adamant, a documentary about a special day center, based on a floating structure on the Seinie, that cares for adults with mental illness. It is the fourth documentary in Berlinale history to take the top prize.

Another highlight was, of course, seeing Steven Spielberg receive the Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by U2-frontman Bono.

‘I feel a little alarmed to be told I’ve lived a lifetime’, Speilberg said in his speech, ‘because I’m not finished.’

I want to keep learning and discovering and scaring the shit out of myself – and sometimes the shit out of you!

As long as there’s joy in it for me, and as long as my audience can find joy and other human values in my films, I’m reluctant to ever say that’s a wrap.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg accepting the Honorary Golden Bear. Credit: Richard Hübner / Berlinale 2023

MetFilm School at Berlinale

Many of our Berlin students took advantage of having one of the world’s biggest film festivals on their doorstep, attending different strands and segments of this year’s Berlinale. A group of our BA Practical Filmmaking students visited the European Film Marketplace, along with eight MA Producing students all the way from our London campus.

We were also proud to see our community directly involved in the festival. MA Documentary & Factual graduate, Ibrahim Nasha’at, worked as an editor on the Syrian documentary Under the Sky of Damascus, which was nominated for the Berlinale Documentary Award, and tells the story of the ‘silent war against women in Syria‘. As well as this, BA Practical Filmmaking Programme Leader and director, Henner Winckler, spoke at the panel discussion for ‘Young Hearts: Youth in the Post-Reunification Film‘.

This event, which took place at the Deutsche Kinemathek, looked at the coming-of-age genre in film, pulling on Henner’s previous experience with the genre in his 2002 award-winning film A Class Trip. For the discussion, Henner was joined by fellow director Michael Klier and actor Laura Tonke, with the trio discussing the appeal of stories set right at the bring of growing up.

MA Documentary & Factual graduate, Ibrahim Nasha’at, at the premiere for Under the Sky of Damascus

The European Film Marketplace

A large part of Berlinale is the European Film Marketplace (EFM), which saw ‘record results’ this year, according to Variety, with filmmaker and producer Nick Shumaker suggesting they’d seen ‘more deals than at Sundance’.

Alongside our BA Practical Filmmaking and MA Producing students, MA Directing graduate Gabriella Blumberg attended the EFM with two new projects. Last year, Gabriella won the PIEoneer Award for ‘International Alumni of the Year’, a response to her impactful work as a producer on films like Near Not FarI Am Here, and Leemtes en Leegheid – leaving us excited to see what she’s working on next.

While in the city for the festival, Gabriella also found time to visit our Berlin campus for a Masterclass session – and she was not the only one. Screenwriter Kirsten Peters stopped by following the world premiere of her new HBO show, Spy/Master, as part of Berlinale’s ‘Series’ strand, and Zak Brilliant, Head of MetFilm Sales and MetFilm Distribution, shared insights into the world of film production and distribution.

3 Berlin Masterclasses – 1 Week! L-R: Kristen Peters, Zak Brilliant, & Gabriella Blumberg

After his MetFilm School Masterclass, Zak joined other members of the MetFilm Sales and MetFilm Distribution teams, and our sister companies made big news during the festival. Since its’ world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in 2022, Becky Hunter’s debut feature documentary, Fashion Reimagined, has shown at festivals around the world, and saw Hunter nominated for ‘Best Debut Director’ at the 2022 BIFAs – and at the EFM, MetFilm Sales closed sales with Sky, NonStop Entertainment, LevelFilm, and many more for a global release.

As well as this, MetFilm Sales has acquired the rights to Thomas Van Steinaecker’s feature documentary, Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer, adding to their current slate, which includes GloriavaleBitterbrushBody Parts, and of course, A Bunch of Amateurs. Keep an eye out for our recap of Zak Brilliant’s Masterclass session, and for updates on MetFilm’s Berlinale acquisitions.

Hero Credit: Alexander Janetzko / Berlinale 2023