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Berlin Film Festival Adds Director’s Cut Of ’54,’ James Franco’s ‘I Am Michael,’ And More

Berlin Film Festival Adds Director's Cut Of '54,' James Franco's 'I Am Michael,' And More

Well, it’s hard to top yesterday’s double whammy of the Berlin Film Festival‘s announcement that Terrence Malick‘s “Knight Of Cups” would premiere at the festival, followed by the trailer for that film. So it’s not quite a shock that today’s unveiling of Berlin’s Panorama lineup is a bit less thrilling.

The highlight additions to the fest are “I Am Michael,” the Gus Van Sant-produced drama starring James Franco, Zachary Quinto, and Emma Roberts that tells the true story of a gay activist who finds God and is “saved” from his homosexuality. The movie will have its World Premiere first at Sundance in January. The other film of major note is Hal Hartley‘s “Ned Rifle,” the final chapter in his “Henry Fool” trilogy, which premiered this fall at TIFF.

And even more interesting, Mark Christopher is bringing the director’s cut of his disco-era drama “54” to the fest. No word yet on the length, but in 2008 at Outfest, Christopher had an unofficial screening of his cut of the movie, which ran 45 minutes longer. And we’d reckon it’ll be a similar version that hits Berlin.

Check out the full press release and list of titles below. The Berlin Film Festival runs from February 5 to 15.


Panorama 2015: Probing the Past to Shape the Future

The eleven fictional and eight documentary films selected at this early date already provide a foretaste of the contents and global issues of the forthcoming 36th Panorama programme.

East Asia will again make a strong showing in 2015. Already confirmed are significant works by renowned directors from Taiwan and South Korea. They could be labelled “modern history” or even “national traumas”. With Paradise in Service,director Doze Niu Chen-Zer from Taiwan presents a difficult chapter of East Asian history that has hardly ever been dealt with before: the establishment of brothels to keep up the morale of armed forces in the battle “against Mao”. And with JK Youn’s epic Ode to My Father, South Korea, half of a still divided country, investigates the repercussions of the Korean War and their impact on today.

The USA’s presence will also be felt: After Henry Fool and Fay Grim (Panorama 2007), cult filmmaker Hal Hartley, an iconic figure from the golden days of 1980s US-independent film, has concluded his trilogy with a masterpiece: Ned Rifle. And Justin Kelly provides an unusual directorial debut with I Am Michael, which was co-produced by Gus Van Sant. In it James Franco portrays a gay activist during the so emancipating 1980s, who then tries to turn straight in the 1990s. From the same decade, but set in the 1980s is an example of a filmmaker’s extraordinary perseverance, even though his work was edited beyond recognition by its investors: seventeen years after the premiere of the film 54, about the legendary New York nightclub, Studio 54, director Mark Christopher is presenting his original cut 54 – The Director’s Cut to the public.

Winners of the Panorama Audience Award 2009 were The Yes Men, those satirists, anarchists and pranksters in pursuit of unscrupulous profit mongering. In 2015 they will be back in Berlin for the third time with The Yes Men Are Revolting. They now aim their barbs at the Copenhagen Climate Conference and create havoc for the oil giant Shell.

Raoul Peck will present his latest work in the Panorama: the Haitian-French-Norwegian coproduction Murder in Pacot(screenplay: Pascal Bonitzer). A character piece set outdoors against the catastrophe of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince looks with bitter rage at class distinctions in Haitian society. 

One film from Latin America has already been confirmed, a co-production from Uruguay, Chile and Nicaragua: Aldo Garay’s The New Man. Here, too, recent history is explored: in the heat of the battle that Tupamaros and Sandinistas are fighting against the military dictatorships in their respective countries, Roberto, a young boy from Nicaragua, suddenly finds himself with foster parents in Uruguay. When he then decides to change his gender, he is also confronted with the limits of tolerance in leftist society.

Child abuse is the subject in several works, including the aforementioned The New Man, and films from Austria (The Last Summer of the Rich by Peter Kern), Switzerland (Dora or the Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents by Stina Werenfels), Canada (Chorus by Francois Delisle) and the Czech Republic (Daniel’s World by Veronika Liskova). Evidently the time is ripe to broach this difficult topic again and in so doing take even greater risks.

The Norwegian fictional film Out of Nature by Ole Giæver and Marte Vold is a zeitgeisty parable about a man, and his search for identity and joy in life. The young father needs a break from parental bliss: he retreats to the mountains to rethink what he wants from life.

In the Swedish contribution Dyke Hard by Bitte Anderson, all the stops have been pulled on what makes indie cinema so entertaining. A zany, quasi musical of post-punk-lesbo-rock-‘n’-roll calibre: this is underground fun at its purest.

Five other films (besides The New Man, The Yes Men und Daniel’s World) have already been confirmed for Panorama Dokumente:

B-Movie – Lust & Sound in West-Berlin by Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck and Heiko Lange also embraces this rediscovered pleasure in the 1980s: a cornucopia of unbridled creativity spurts from this period in Berlin, which is revealed here to have been a highpoint. Alongside almost forgotten gems are tracks by Gudrun Gut, Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave, among others.

Scandal at the Zoo Palast: R.W. Fassbinder’s conquest of the Berlinale began with Love Is Colder than Death in the 1969 Competition. In Fassbinder – To Love without Demands, Danish filmmaker Christian Braad Thomsen opens his archive and generously gives us a contemplative afternoon in a hotel room in Cannes with this unendingly inspiring filmmaker.

Kenya is among those African countries where, under the influence of evangelical organisations from the United States, hatred has been ignited against homosexuals. In Stories of Our Lives, Jim Chuchu lets a whole range of brave people talk. Banned in its country of origin, the film also presents pre-Christian rites that respect self-determination much more than society today.

In his 162-minute 3D documentary Iraqi Odyssey, Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir masterly depicts the latest, highly complex history of Iraq as revealed by events in a family. 

Last not least, news of a celebration! On February 13, 2014, the Teddy Awards will be presented for the second time at the Komische Oper Berlin. The Special Teddy 2015 will go to Udo Kier. Almost no other actor has crossed, fused, redrawn and extended the many boundaries of cinematic art with such ease.


54: The Director’s Cut


By Mark Christopher

With Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Mike Myers, Sela Ward, Mark Ruffalo

World premiere



By François Delisle

With Sébastien Ricard, Fanny Mallette, Pierre Curzi, Geneviève Bujold

European premiere

Der letzte Sommer der Reichen (The Last Summer of the Rich)


By Peter Kern

With Amira Casar, Nicole Gerdon, Winfried Glatzeder

World premiere

Dora oder Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern (Dora or The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents)

Switzerland / Germany

By Stina Werenfels

With Victoria Schulz, Jenny Schily, Lars Eidinger, Urs Jucker

World premiere

Dyke Hard


By Bitte Andersson

With Alle Eriksson, Peggy Sands, M. Wågensjö, Iki Gonzales Magnusson, Lina Kurttila

International premiere

Gukje Shijang (Ode to My Father)

Republic of Korea

By JK Youn

with Hwang Jung-min, Kim Yunjin

International premiere

I Am Michael


By Justin Kelly

With James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts

International premiere

Jun Zhong Le Yuan (Paradise in Service)

Taiwan / People’s Republic of China

By Doze Niu Chen-Zer

With Ethan Juan, Wan Qian, Chen Jianbin, Chen Yi-Han

European premiere

Meurtre à Pacot (Murder in Pacot)

France / Haiti / Norway

By Raoul Peck

With Alex Descas, Ayo, Thibault Vinçon, Lovely Kermonde Fifi, Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin

European premiere

Mot Naturen (Out of Nature)


By Ole Giæver, Marte Vold

With Ole Giæver, Marte Magnusdotter Solem, Rebekka Nystadbakk, Ellen Birgitte Winther, Sievert Giaever Solem

European premiere

Ned Rifle (Ned Rifle)


By Hal Hartley

With Liam Aiken, Martin Donovan, Aubrey Plaza, Parkey Posey, Thomas Jay Ryan

European premiere

Panorama Dokumente

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 


By Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck, Heiko Lange

With Mark Reeder, Marius Weber

World premiere

Danieluv svet (Daniel’s World)

Czeck Republic

By Veronika Liskova

International premiere

El hombre nuevo (The New Man)

Uruguay / Chile / Nicaragua

By Aldo Garay

World premiere

Fassbinder – lieben ohne zu fordern (Fassbinder – To Love without Demands)


By Christian Braad Thomsen

with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Irm Hermann, Harry Baer, Lilo Pempeit

World premiere

Iraqi Odyssey 


By Samir

European premiere

Stories of Our Lives 

Kenya / South Africa

By Jim Chuchu

With Kelly Gichohi, Paul Ogola, Tim Mutungi, Mugambi Nthinga, Rose Njenga

European premiere

The Yes Men Are Revolting


By Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno

European premiere

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