Berlin film fest opens with spotlight on Iran and Ukraine

Before a jam-packed schedule featuring films about Iran and Ukraine, the Berlinale, Europe’s first significant film festival of the year, kicks off on Thursday with a comedy starring Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei, and Peter Dinklage.

With new feature films and documentaries, the 73rd annual festival, which has historically had the largest political focus of the three major European film festivals, will commemorate both the first anniversary of the Russian invasion and the anti-regime demonstrations in Iran.

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Panel discussions and red-carpet protests are among the special events planned in “solidarity” with the people of Iran and Ukraine.

The Berlinale will honor the “catalysing and revolutionary notion of film which unifies even when it divides,” according to the festival’s creative director Carlo Chatrian.

Based on a series of interviews, the Hollywood actor Sean Penn, who was in Kyiv at the beginning of the Russian assault, will present “Superpower,” a documentary that charts Volodymyr Zelensky’s development from comic to president to war hero.

“Zelensky was two completely different creatures from one day to the next,” the two-time Oscar winner told film industry magazine Variety this week. “He was a spirit in waiting.”

The Ukrainian leader is expected to address the festival by video link.

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