Toronto Audience Award winner JoJo Rabbit, about a young boy in Hitler’s army who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home, will be the festival’s closing night gala, a choice that could stir debate. Waititi, who is Jewish, plays Hitler. Also starring are Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson.
The festival’s Centerpiece Gala will be the UK premiere of The Operative, about a woman who is recruited by the Mossad to work undercover in Tehran. Directed by Yuval Adler, the Berlin Film Festival debut stars Diane Kruger and Martin Freeman.
Films in competition for the Dorfman Best Film Award are Dolce Fine Giornata, Flawless, Jojo Rabbit, festival opener My Polish Honeymoon, Stripped and The Unorthodox. Films in competition for the Best Debut Feature Award will be Fig Tree, God of the Piano, The Humorist, Leona, My Polish Honeymoon and The Unorthodox.
The Documentary Gala will be the world premiere of The Human Factor, about the Middle East peace process, followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers) and producer Teddy Leifer (Icarus).
This year the festival is launching its first ever Best Documentary Award. Films in competition for the prize include Advocate, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles, The Human Factor, It Must Schwing! – The Blue Note Story, The Last Resort and The State against Mandela and the Others.
This year’s jury lineup includes BAFTA chairwoman Jane Lush, Bridget Jones’s Baby scribe Dan Mazer, former Storyville boss Nick Fraser and Three Identical Strangers director Tim Wardle.
The festival, which has programmed 96 films, will be staged at 15 cinemas across London followed by a tour of festival highlights to 20 towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales until 12 December.