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When Chicago film lovers think of foreign film festivals, Cannes is usually the first that comes to mind. Another festival that should absolutely be on the cinephile’s radar is the Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale. One of the largest, most well attended film events in the world (it pulls an audience of over 400,000), the Berlinale also provides a huge film market for distributors, producers and festival programmers.

Each year members of our team attend the Berlinale to check out the Festival’s main competition titles and many events. The weather is tough (usually similar to a chilly and snowy Chicago winter) and we spend our days running between the various theaters and venues and catching some of the city’s incredible sights like the new Potsdammerplatz and Sony Center (designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn).

This year, the Festival is bestowing the Berlinale Camera award to the iconic Isabella Rossellini and welcoming director Wong Kar Wai as their jury president and actor/director Tim Robbins as a jury member.


Red carpets at the Festival will be über glamorous as the a-list make appearances before the Academy Awards, and as filmmakers and actors promote their films. Expect to see, among others, Ethan Hawke (in Richard Linklater’s BEFORE MIDNIGHT), Juliette Binoche (in CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1918), Catherine Deneuve (in ON MY WAY), Jeremy Irons (in Bille August’s NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON), Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (both in David Gordon Green’s PRINCE AVALANCHE),

Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Hal Holbrook (in Gus Van Sant’s PROMISED LAND), Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum (in Steven Soderbergh’s SIDE EFFECTS), Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone (voices in THE CROODS), Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelse, Til Schweiger and Rupert Grint (in THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN), and Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi (in Wong Kar Wai’s THE GRANDMASTER) attend the Festival this year.


I have had the pleasure of sitting on the feature film jury at the Berlinale and have assisted them in programming over the years. The Berlinale is probably the best run festival in the world, and if you ever find yourself in Germany in February, it is worth a few days to attend and enjoy. Of course we’ll bring some of the best titles back to Chicago for the 49th Chicago International Film Festival, this October 10 - 24!


Michael Kutza
Founder & Artistic Director