In "My Salinger Year" by Philippe Falardeau, Sigourney Weaver plays a strict and passionate literary agent. © Philippe Bossé
The 70th Berlinale starts with a rather sober clarification. Before he says how much films have always moved him - Charlie Chaplin's lights of the big city or the epic Lawrence of Arabia - before the actor and jury president Jeremy Irons declares this feeling of being touched to be the benchmark of his jury work, he clarifies three things: He against sexual assault and violence against women in all forms. He advocated same-sex marriages and hoped that they would be possible in even more societies in the future. And he wishes that every woman who decides to have an abortion can carry it out legally and safely. It looks almost a little stiff when he reads these sentences from his ring binder. It drove him how a number of media reacted to his appointment as jury president because of old statements for which he had long been apologized and which he would no longer make today. Irons smiles all the more relaxed when the journalists present acknowledge his statement with applause. Only now, it seems, can he and the organizers of this Berlinale dedicate themselves entirely to the films.
In the official competition for the bears, there are only 18 this year - a small handful less than in previous years, which is due to the fact that the new Berlin double headed by the managing director Mariette Rissenbeek and the artistic director Carlo Chatrian films that were previously "out of competition" had outsourced to so-called "special galas". The first of these is the world premiere of the novel My Salinger Year , which officially opens the festival on Thursday evening.
There is a hint of expectation about this Berlinale. A bit like entering a well-known place after a renovation: there are still the cinema halls of the Berlin Palace and the multiplex right next door - but what will you see in it now? There are some indications of a return to focus and concentration on the cinematic possibilities of cinema in the narrower sense: For example, the entire first year of the International Forum of 1971 is repeated, which was once founded to protest against an overly glittering competition and initially outside the Berlinale. In addition, the new management duo initiated a new series, the so-called Encounters, in which one also wants to explicitly show "unusual productions".
"We all know that we live in difficult times"
So will there be more brave, more daring to see? With his work for the Locarno film festival, Chatrian has made a name for himself as an art enthusiast, as a real cinephile and film connoisseur. He said he was more interested in how the filmmakers responded to both personal fears and concerns about the state of the world, he said at the program launch in January. "We all know we are living in difficult times," he said. And: "Cinema always wants to sharpen awareness of the world we live in."
But the new director is realistic enough to know that many people don't just flock to the cinemas and the Berlinale to think about their worries and the bad state of the world. "Which stars are coming?" was actually always the first question to be asked, Chatrian said. Well, who's coming to this Berlinale? At the opening, Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley (who was most recently seen as a hippie girl in Quentin Tarantino's OnceUpon a Time in Hollywood ), Canadian director Philippe Faradeau and almost the entire cast of My Salinger Year . A stroke of luck, as it quickly becomes clear.
The film, based on the eponymous (and autobiographically colored) novel by the writer JoannaRakoff, takes place in New York in the mid-1990s. After studying literature, Joanna (Margaret Qualley) leaves her California home and her boyfriend to finally realize her dream of becoming a writer in New York, having already published two poems and won a small prize for it. In New York, however, she first took on a job as an assistant to a famous literary agent (Sigourney Weaver). Your only job is to read all letters, mostly fan mail, to the famous author JD Salinger ( DerFänger im Roggen ! Franny und Zooey !), Answer them with dry standard sentences and then shred them. Be heartbreaking or - as it is said several times - " quiet emotional ", that is, quiet and soulful.