In a remarkable stand against the virus, and the events of the past two years, the Berlin & Beyond festival is back in a fully in-person capacity. That means everything will be in theaters and nothing will be streamed or zoomed.
The festival, which plays March 11 through 16, will feature around a dozen new feature-length films — many making their North American premieres — as well as shorts, a director’s panel and more. Events are scheduled at the Castro Theatre, Landmark’s Aquarius in Palo Alto, Landmark’s Shattuck in Berkeley and The Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.
The opening night feature is a doozy; it’s the directing debut of Daniel Brühl, who is perhaps best known on these shores as race car driver Niki Lauda in 2013’s “Rush” and the fascinating villain “Zemo” in both “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” TV series on Disney+.
His film, “Next Door,” is what they call a “two-hander.” Brühl plays a semi-famous movie actor, called “Daniel Weltz,” on the day of a big audition for a superhero movie. He stops at a quiet bar before heading to the airport, and is unnerved by the direct, unsettling stare of Bruno (Peter Kurth).
At first, Bruno simply offers Daniel some searing criticism of some of his performances, before letting on that he knows some very unsettling things about Daniel’s life. It becomes a compact, punchy little chess game between two very different personalities, with a devastating payoff.
That opening night film will be followed by a small reception on the Castro’s upper mezzanine. The film will be shown again on March 14 at the Aquarius.
The centerpiece film, “Dear Thomas,” a black-and-white, New Wave-style biopic of writer Thomas Brasch, will screen at the Castro on Saturday, March 12.
The Castro closing night film will be the touching, pointed “Precious Ivie,” about a young woman, Ivie (Haley Louise Jones), who is trying to land a job as a teacher. She suddenly receives a visit from Naomi (Lorna Ishema), claiming to be Ivie’s half-sister and providing the information that their father is dead.
Through delicate, nuanced performances and a patient tone, it’s one of those special films that gets close to life. The film screens Sunday, March 13 at the Castro, and again on March 15 at the Shattuck.
Other programs include “Youth 4 German Cinema,” which features two films chosen by a special panel of young folks. “Mission Ulja Funk” tells the story of a 12-year-old astronomy nut who takes an illicit road trip to see an asteroid crash, while “Wet Dog” is about an Iranian/Jewish teenager who joins an anti-Semitic street gang. Admission to these two films is free, although registration is required.
Documentaries include the highly-acclaimed “Mr. Bachmann and His Class,” about how an unconventional elementary school teacher bonds with his students. And “Genderation” is a sequel to director Monkia Treut’s “Gendermauts,” in which she revisits her trans subjects (many of whom live in the Bay Area).
Detailed information on these and the festival’s other films is available on their website, where tickets may also be purchased.
Prices range from $7-10 for matinee shows to $14-16 for most screenings. The opening night feature is $26-30, and $200 for the reception. A pass for all Castro films with priority entry is available for $175 general, $160 for seniors, students, and disabled patrons, and $150 for Berlin & Beyond members.
IF YOU GO:
26th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
March 11-13, 2022: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.
March 14, 2022: Landmark’s Aquarius Theatre, 430 Emerson St., Palo Alto
March 15, 2022: Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas, 2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
March 16, 2022: UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), 2155 Center St., Berkeley
Regular Film Tickets (Castro Main Screenings, Aquarius & Shattuck Screenings)
$16.00 general, $14.00 senior/student/disabled, $13.00 Berlin & Beyond member
Castro Opening Night screening of “Next Door”
$30.00 general, $26.00 senior/student/disabled, $22.00 Berlin & Beyond member
$10.00 matinée special (no discounts)
$7.00 matinée special (no discounts)
Youth 4 German Cinema Screenings
Free Admission (ticketed registration required)
BAMPFA screening of “Mr. Bachmann and His Class”
$14.00 general, $10 senior/student/disabled, see website for additional prices
Opening Night Benefit Reception
$200.00 ($125.00 applicable for tax-deduction)
Castro Priority Film Pass (films only March 11-13 with priority entry)
$175.00 general, $160.00 senior/student/disabled, $150.00 Berlin & Beyond member