As the Berlin Film Festival approaches next week, organizers have announced that Willem Dafoe is this year’s recipient of the Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement. The Berlinale has also set the international jury which weighs the main competition films, and added the final title to that roster: Erik Poppe’s Utøya 22 Juli (U – July 22). Organizers further weighed in on plans for panel discussions surrounding sexual harassment and the issues facing the industry worldwide.
Poppe’s drama is set on the day of the 2011 Norway attacks which left 77 dead in Oslo and at a summer camp on the island of Utoya. Poppe directed 2016’s Oscar shortlisted The King’s Choice. This is the first fictional movie about the attack and follows a young girl and her friends as they try to survive minute-by-minute. The story is written on the basis of testimonies and known facts, but for the sake of the victims and their relatives, characters and individual experiences are fictitious. The Berlin premiere is on February 19; TrustNordisk is handling sales.
The Berlinale also set a Special out-of-competition berth for Songwriter, a portrait of British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. The documentary by Sheeran’s cousin Murray Cummings follows the musician as he creates his latest album and provides an intimate look at his work. This is a world premiere.
Dafoe is coming off of The Florida Project for which he’s received several awards and is nominated for a BAFTA and an Oscar in Supporting as the cantankerous motel handyman and guardian angel to the kids there. He also has the Julian Schnabel-directed At Eternity’s Gate and James Wan’s Aquaman coming up.
A 10-film retrospective of his work will be shown including Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Paul Schrader’s Auto Focus, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning, E Elias Merhige’s Shadow Of The Vampire and William Friedkin’s To Live And Die In LA. Dafoe was on the Berlinale jury in 2007.
Joining jury president Tom Tykwer on the panel this year are Belgian actress Cécile de France, Spanish Filmoteca director Chema Prado, Moonlight producer Adele Romanski, Japanese composer Ryūichi Sakamoto and Time film critic Stephanie Zacharek.
Further to the proceedings at this socially-minded festival, panel discussions will be held on sexual harassment in film, television and theater as well as closing the gender gap in the industry. The Berlinale will also provide visitors who experience or witness discrimination, harassment or abuse with contact partners and contact to counseling centers.
Berlin runs February 15-25.