Berlinale: Famous Berlin film festival to spotlight pandemic-era movies

Berlin's international film festival next month will feature 15 movies made under the pandemic in competition for its Golden Bear top prize, organisers said Thursday.

Berlinale: Famous Berlin film festival to spotlight pandemic-era movies
A scene from pandemic-era film and Berlinale entry, 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn'. Photo: DPA

Directors including Emmy winner Maria Schrader (“Unorthodox”),
German-Spanish actor Daniel Brühl (“Rush”) and French director Celine Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) will be premiering new work at the event, which will take place online because of Germany's partial lockdown.

The Berlinale's artistic director, Carlo Chatrian, said all contenders for the top prizes at the March 1st-5th event were “films that either in their production or their post-production process have endured the pandemic”.

READ ALSO: Berlin's Berlinale film fest to be held both online and live due to pandemic

“If only a few of them show directly the new world we are living in, all of them carry beneath their surfaces the uncertain times we are experiencing,” he said in a video presenting the lineup.

“A sense of apprehension is everywhere.”

Schrader will unveil “I'm Your Man”, a sci-fi comedy about a woman played by Sandra Hüller (“Toni Erdmann”) finding a custom-made Mr Right.

Brühl, who came to international attention with the bittersweet comedy “Good Bye, Lenin” and is now part of the Captain America franchise, will make his directorial debut with “Next Door” about gentrification in Berlin.

Sciamma, who scooped the best screenplay award in Cannes with her critical smash hit “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, has completed “Petite Maman” starring two young girls.

Two-part festival

One of Romania's top filmmakers, Radu Jude, who won the Berlinale's Silver Bear in 2015 for “Aferim!” about the origins of prejudice against the Roma, is back with “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” about a teacher whose sex tape winds up on the internet.

Lebanese directors Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige will screen “Memory Box” about an immigrant mother in Montreal facing flashbacks of her country's civil war.

“Albatross” by France's Xavier Beauvois (“Of Gods and Men”) tells of the trials of a police officer in a northern village.

Festival circuit favourite Hong Sang-soo of South Korea will show “Introduction” featuring his frequent muse Kim Min-hee, who clinched best actress in Berlin in 2017.

Other titles include “A Cop Movie”, a Mexican documentary by Alonso Ruizpalacios, Iranian death penalty drama “Ballad of a White Cow” by Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam and Denes Nagy's Hungarian World War II feature
“Natural Light”.

The Berlinale, now in its 71st edition, is the first major European cinema showcase of the year and ranks with Cannes and Venice among the continent's top film festivals.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, it is scheduled to take place in two parts this year, one in March for industry professionals and one in June with screenings for general audiences.

The jury will be made up of six previous Golden Bear winners including last year's laureate, dissident Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who claimed the prize for “There Is No Evil” about capital punishment in his country.

By Deborah Cole

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Abendbrot: What time do Germans eat dinner?

The traditional German dinner time is much earlier than in other European countries. But that, along with what people eat in the evening, is changing.

Abendbrot: What time do Germans eat dinner?

In other European countries, such as France and Spain, the natives generally don’t sit down at the dinner table until at least 8 pm. In Italy, it’s not uncommon to have a cena (dinner) at 10 pm.

But in Germany, the traditional dinner time is much earlier: you’ll find many German households having their evening meal between 5 and 7 pm. 

Not only do Germans like to eat early, but they also eat cold. One of the most widely used names for dinner alongside Abendessen (evening meal) is Abendbrot: literally “evening bread”. That’s because – traditionally – the evening meal is more of a snack than a hot, sit-down dish and consists of slices of bread with cheese, sausage and pickled vegetables. 

Though that may sound a tad boring at first, when you remember that Germany has over 300 types of bread and a pretty wide range of sausage cuts, Abendbrot starts to look a lot more mouthwatering.

READ ALSO: Five delicious breads you have to try in Germany

The northern Germans also like to add a pickled Bismarck herring, while in the south you’re more likely to get sausage salad served alongside your Brotscheibe (slice of bread).

Where does the Abendbrot tradition come from?

Cultural researchers generally believe that the German custom of eating cold food in the early evening dates back to the 1920s. At that time, industry increasingly dominated everyday life – in contrast to the more agricultural structures in countries like Italy and France.

A table set for a traditional German dinner.

A table set for a traditional German dinner. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

Lots of German factories had canteens where workers got a hot, filling meal at lunchtime and no longer needed such a big meal in the evening. The practice of eating only a bread-based snack in the evening became even more widespread after the war when the number of working women also rapidly increased.

Do people really still eat so early in Germany?

While an early Abendbrot and a big, warm, Mittagstisch (lunch) are still popular in Germany, being part of a globalised world full of new eating trends and working patterns has, of course, had an impact on the love of an early dinner of bread and cheese. 

In most major German cities, you’ll find restaurants open until midnight, with food still being served after 10 pm. 

The content of the traditional German Abendbrot is being called into question now too, as many nutrition experts recommend eating a low-carbohydrate meal in the evening.

READ ALSO: Five things that are changing about Germany – and five that never will 

The classic sausage topping is also declining in popularity as more and more people opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet. That said, there is a growing range of vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes available now in German supermarkets.

What about other meals?

As reported in the Berliner Morgenpost, a recent YouGov poll found that the most popular meal of the day in Germany is, in fact, breakfast. 

According to the survey, one-third of the 2050 respondents think that breakfast is the “most important meal” of the day and only one in fourteen adults said they never eat breakfast.

Most people between 18 and 24 eat breakfast in the morning and only two percent say they never do. By contrast, among older people aged 45 and over, eight percent say they don’t eat anything in the morning.

READ ALSO: Is Germany falling out of love with Abendbrot?

What people like to eat for breakfast also varied greatly across the generations. Older people prefer a hearty breakfast with bread, cheese and sausage, while the popularity of fruit and muesli is twice as high among those aged 24 and under than among all adults overall.