Best of Berlin

Best of Berlin

February 20, 2023

Ones to Watch

As Berlinale Series 2023 gets underway, DQ highlights some of the new series that will premiere in the German capital this week.

The red carpet will be rolled out for stars of the small screen this week as Berlinale Series, part of the Berlin International Film Festival, returns to full strength for the first time since before the pandemic.

With a conference programme that aims to address the current changes in the industry, there will be showcases of new programmes from territories including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Baltics.

Taking centre stage will be the eight titles screening as part of the flagship Berlinale Series programme, with numerous world and international premieres.

Agent is a Danish series about a man tasked with looking after his clients’ private and professional problems, breathlessly teetering between ingenious plans and absolute chaos. Arkitekten (The Architect) is described as a pitch-black satire about an architect who puts forward the idea of creating much-needed housing in a futuristic Oslo by converting underground car parks into residential buildings.

Berlinale is underway now in the German capital

Bad Behaviour is an Australian drama about the merciless battle for power at a girls’ boarding school, while Dahaad (Roar) is an Indian crime series in which a police officer is called upon to investigate cases of women seemingly disappearing without trace in Rajasthan.

The Good Mothers is a British-Italian coproduction about a group of women who team up with a female prosecutor to bring down a notorious local mafia, and Der Schwarm (The Swarm) is a timely adaptation of Frank Schätzing’s novel about a group of researchers investigating a series of mysterious ecological events as nature appears to be taking revenge on mankind.

Based on real events, Spy/Master is a Cold War thriller in which a Romanian spy finds himself in danger of being exposed as a double agent and decides to defect to the US. Finally, Chinese drama Why Try to Change Me Now is set in the 1990s, when a series of murders rocks an industrial city.

Also screening are 16 titles under the Berlinale Series Market Selects banner, drawn from countries including Chile, South Africa, Israel, Belgium, Lithuania and India. The titles include 1985 (Belgium), À propos d’Antoine (About Antoine, Canada), The Ark (US), Brown (India), Cuba Libre (Portugal), Donkerbos (South Africa), Handen på Hjärtat (Out of Touch, Sweden), Kuppel 16 (Dome 16, Norway), Nordland 99 (Denmark), Pad (The Fall, Serbia), Poemas Malditos (Cursed Poems, Chile), Schnee (Snow, Germany), Traitor (Israel), Trolių ferma (Troll Farm, Lithuania), The Way Home (US) and Zwei Zeiten des Abgrunds (Two Sides of the Abyss).

Here, read DQ’s coverage of half-a-dozen of the most anticipated titles due to be shown to audiences in Berlin.

Arkitekten (The Architect)
From: Norway
Writers: Nora Landsrød and Kristian Kilde
Director: Kerren Lumer-Klabbers
Starring: Eili Harboe, Fredrik Stenberg D-S, Ingrid Unnur Giæver, Alexandra Gjerpen and Petronella Barker
Production company: Nordisk Film Production
Broadcaster: Viaplay
Distributor: Viaplay
A darkly satirical story set in a near future Oslo where architect Julie has an idea to turn underground car parks into much needed housing.

Read DQ’s interview with director Kerren Lumer-Klabbers here

Cuba Libre
From: Portugal
Writer: Henrique Oliveira
Director: Henrique Oliveira
Starring: Beatriz Godinho, Pierre Kiwitt and Margarida Marinho
Production company: HOP Films
Broadcaster: RTP
Distributor: Keshet International
After escaping the Portuguese dictatorship with her Swiss diplomat husband when he is posted to Havana, Annie falls for more than just the city’s vibrant culture, dedicating herself to the Cuban revolution and secretly falling in love with Che Guevara.
Read DQ’s interview with Henrique Oliveira and Beatriz Godinho here.

Der Schwarm (The Swarm)
From: Germany
Writers: Steven Lally, Marissa Lestrade, Chris Lunt and Michael A Walker
Directors: Barbara Eder, Luke Watson, Philipp Stölzl
Starring: Cécile de France, Alexander Karim, Leonie Benesch, Joshua Odjick and Takuya Kimura
Production company: Schwarm TV Production
Broadcasters: ZDF, France Télévisions, Rai, Viaplay, Hulu Japan, ORF and SRF
Distributor: Beta Film, ZDF Studios
This series is based on Frank Schätzing’s novel that chronicles the struggle of humankind against an unknown enemy with swarm intelligence that lives in the depths of the sea. When the reckless treatment of the oceans threatens the natural habitat of this mysterious collective, it strikes back – putting all human life under threat and leaving its survival in the hands of a small group of scientists.

Read DQ’s interview with production designer Julian Wagner, director Barbara Eder and VFX supervisor Jan Stoltz here

Nordland 99
From: Denmark
Writers: Kasper Møller Rask and Josephine Leopold
Director: Kasper Møller Rask
Starring: Elias Budde Christensen, Noa Risbro Hjerrild, Noah Skovgaard Skands and Emilie Kroyer Koppel
Production company: Nevis Productions
Broadcaster: DR
Distributor: DR Sales
A unique blend of dark crime and teenage friendship, this 1999-set series unfolds in a small town where Lukas, Kris and Alex hang out, party and try to keep boredom at bay. But when Alex disappears, Lukas and Kris team up with Alex’s sister Emma to search for their missing friend.

Read DQ’s interview with director Kasper Møller Rask and producers Iben Søtang and Anni Faurbye Fernandez here.

From: Romania
Writers: Adina Sădeanu and Kirsten Peters
Director: Christopher Peters
Starring: Alec Secăreanu, Parker Sawyers, Svenja Jung, Ana Ularu and Laurențiu Bănescu
Production company: Warner Bros ITVP Germany
Broadcasters: Warner TV Serie and HBO Max
Inspired by true events, this show focuses on a high ranking Romanian secret service agent who decides to defect to the US in 1978 when his espionage work for the Soviet Union is in danger of being exposed.

Read DQ’s interview with writers Adina Sădeanu and Kirsten Peters here

Trolių ferma (Troll Farm)
From: Lithuania
Writers: Domantė Urmonaitė and Martynas Mendelis
Director: Ernestas Jankauskas
Starring: Gabija Siurbytė, Valentinas Krulikovskis, Andrius Paulavičius and Roberta Sirgedaite
Production company: Dansu Films
Broadcaster: LRT and Telia
Distributor: Dansu Films
After being wrongly fired from international beauty brand Melta Cosmetics, ‘corporate diva’ Ana is determined to clear her name, win back her husband and daughter, and prove to the world that she was a scapegoat.

Read DQ’s interview with actor and producer Gabija Siurbytė here.

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