Berlinale 2024 Preview: Bruno Dumont, Abel Ferrara, Hong Sangsoo, Atom Egoyan, Tsai Ming-liang to Premiere

Contributor; Slovakia (@martykudlac)
Berlinale 2024 Preview: Bruno Dumont, Abel Ferrara, Hong Sangsoo, Atom Egoyan, Tsai Ming-liang to Premiere

The Berlin International Film Festival, known as the Berlinale, gears up for its 2024 edition with a compelling and eclectic lineup of films. This year's selection underscores the festival's commitment to showcasing innovative and diverse storytelling and groundbreaking cinematic visions from around the globe. 

With world premieres spanning from Italy to South Korea, the competition slate offers a rich tapestry of films. The 2024 edition is the last under the artistic directorship of Carlo Chatrian, who is closing his five-year leadership on a high note and will be leaving the festival with a bang.

The main competition will introduce Mati Diop's Dahomey, which revisits the historical act of repatriating stolen treasures to Benin, weaving a narrative that questions identity, heritage, and the meaning of restitution in a post-colonial context. Diop's previous work has been celebrated for its lyrical storytelling and profound thematic depth.

A surprising yet welcome pick is Bruno Dumont's take on Star Wars in L'Empire. It's set on the Opal Coast in northern France, within a fishing village where the birth of an unusual baby triggers a series of events. This child's arrival ignites a concealed conflict between extraterrestrial forces representing good and evil.

Suspended Time by Olivier Assayas is also in the main competition. Set in April 2020 during the global lockdown, the story centers around film director Etienne and his brother Paul, a music journalist, who retreat to their childhood home accompanied by their new partners. As they navigate the confines of their temporary isolation, the boundaries between reality and unreality begin to blur, affecting their daily lives.

The Austrian horror-duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are also in the main competition with The Devil’s Bath, set in Upper Austria in 1750. It centers on Agnes, a young married woman who experiences a profound sense of alienation within her husband's world. Feeling trapped and desperate, she sees a shocking act as her sole escape from her circumstances.

And returning to Berlin, this time appearing in the main competition, is the prolific Hong Sangsoo,  who will world premiere his latest work, A Traveler’s Needs, led by Isabelle Huppert. The story introduces a French woman who finds herself playing a child’s recorder in a park, claiming she is from France. Facing financial difficulties, she is advised to leverage her native language skills and subsequently begins teaching French to two Korean women.

The Berlinale offers many intriguing titles, including Gakuryu Ishii's The Box Man, which follows a man who abandons his identity and conventional life to live with a cardboard box over his head. Inspired by this radical choice, a photographer named Myself decides to follow in his footsteps and become a "box man" as well.

Heo Myeong-haeng's The Roundup: Punishment continues the saga of "Monster Cop" Ma Seok-do. In this installment, Ma Seok-do delves into the investigation of an illegal online gambling organization. As he progresses with his investigation, Ma Seok-do devises a strategy that involves forming an unexpected alliance to bring down the criminals.

The Berlin Film Festival runs February 15-25, 2024. The full lineup is available here. Below are more highlights; all verbiage by the festival. 

Main competition

Another End

by Piero Messina | with Gael García Bernal, Renate Reinsve, Bérénice Bejo, Olivia Williams, Pal Aron

Italy 2024

Competition | World premiere

In the near future, a new technology places the consciousness of a dead person back into a living body in an attempt to ease the grief of separation and grant the bereft a little extra time to say goodbye.


by Victor Kossakovsky

Germany / France / USA 2024

Competition | World premiere

A visually powerful journey into the realm of materials from which human dwellings are made: concrete and its predecessor, stone. Victor Kossakovsky’s cinematic essay explores the fundamental question: How will we inhabit the world of tomorrow?

Black Tea

by Abderrahmane Sissako | with Nina Mélo, Chang Han, Wu Ke-Xi, Michael Chang

France / Mauritania / Luxembourg / Taiwan / Cote d'Ivoire 2024

Competition | World premiere

Aya, a woman from the Ivory Coast in her early thirties, says “No” on her wedding day. She emigrates to China and falls in love with Cai, the owner of a tea boutique. Can their relationship survive other people’s prejudices and the turmoil of Aya’s past?

La Cocina

by Alonso Ruizpalacios | with Raúl Briones Carmona, Rooney Mara, Anna Diaz, Motell Foster, Oded Fehr

Mexico / USA 2024

Competition | World premiere

Lunchtime at The Grill in New York. Money has gone missing from the till. All the undocumented cooks are questioned; Pedro is the prime suspect. Upset that his lover Julia has had an abortion, he plans to halt the kitchen production line once and for all.


by Mati Diop

France / Senegal / Benin 2024

Competition | World premiere

In 2021, 26 objects from the Kingdom of Dahomey leave Paris to be returned to present-day Benin. How should these art treasures, stolen from the ancestors, be received in a country that has reinvented itself in their absence?

A Different Man

by Aaron Schimberg | with Sebastian Stan, Renate Reinsve, Adam Pearson

USA 2023

Competition | International premiere

Aspiring actor Edward undergoes a radical surgical procedure to drastically transform his appearance. But his new dream face quickly turns into a nightmare when he loses out on the role he was born to play.

L’ Empire (The Empire)

by Bruno Dumont | with Lyna Khoudri, Anamaria Vartolomei, Camille Cottin, Fabrice Luchini, Brandon Vlieghe

France / Italy / Germany / Belgium / Portugal 2024

Competition | World premiere

The Opal Coast, northern France. In a quiet and picturesque fishing village, something finally happens: a special baby is born. A child so unique and peculiar that it unleashes a secret war between extraterrestrial forces of good and evil.


by Margherita Vicario | with Galatéa Bellugi, Carlotta Gamba, Veronica Lucchesi, Maria Vittoria Dallasta, Sara Mafodda

Italy / Switzerland 2024

Competition | World premiere

Venice in the year 1800. What happens when a decrepit old music school for girls receives a newly invented “music machine” that everyone calls the “pianoforte”? Will it be the vehicle to freedom for five blossoming young musicians?

Hors du temps (Suspended Time)

by Olivier Assayas | with Vincent Macaigne, Micha Lescot, Nine D’Urso, Nora Hamzawi, Maud Wyler

France 2024

Competition | World premiere

April 2020. The film director Etienne and his brother Paul, a music journalist, spend lockdown together in their childhood home with their new partners. A feeling of unreality slowly invades their daily lives.

In Liebe, Eure Hilde (From Hilde, with Love)

by Andreas Dresen | with Liv Lisa Fries, Johannes Hegemann, Lisa Wagner, Alexander Scheer, Emma Bading

Germany 2024

Competition | World premiere

The film tells the story of Hilde Coppi, a young resistance fighter against the Nazis – about a life cut short, about love and death.

Keyke mahboobe man (My Favourite Cake)

by Maryam Moghaddam, Behtash Sanaeeha | with Lily Farhadpour, Esmail Mehrabi

Iran / France / Sweden / Germany 2024

Competition | World premiere

The 70-year-old Mahin lives alone in Tehran, until she decides to break her solitary routine and revitalise her love life. But as she opens herself up to a new romance, an unexpected encounter quickly evolves into an unpredictable, unforgettable evening.

Langue Étrangère

by Claire Burger | with Lilith Grasmug, Josefa Heinsius, Nina Hoss, Chiara Mastroianni, Jalal Altawil

France / Germany / Belgium 2024

Competition | World premiere

Fanny, a 17-year-old schoolgirl from France, goes on a language exchange trip to Germany. In Leipzig, she meets her pen pal Lena who is eager to become politically active. To impress Lena, the shy Fanny invents a different life for herself.

Mé el Aïn (Who Do I Belong To)

by Meryam Joobeur | with Salha Nasraoui, Mohamed Hassine Grayaa, Malek Mechergui, Adam Bessa, Dea Liane

Tunisia / France / Canada 2024

Competition | World premiere

Aïcha lives on a farm in northern Tunisia. Her eldest sons Mehdi and Amine have gone away to war. When Mehdi returns home with a mysterious pregnant wife, a darkness emerges that threatens to engulf the entire village.


by Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias | with Jhon Narváez, Sor María Ríos, Fareed Matjila, Harmony Ahalwa, Jorge Puntillón García

Dominican Republic / Namibia / Germany / France 2024

Competition | World premiere

A voice that claims to belong to a hippopotamus. A voice that does not understand the perception of time. Pepe, the first and only hippopotamus ever killed in the Americas, tells his story.


by Min Bahadur Bham | with Thinley Lhamo, Sonam Topden, Tenzin Dalha, Karma Wangyal Gurung, Karma Shakya

Nepal / France / Norway / Hong Kong, China / Turkey / Taiwan / USA / Qatar 2024

Competition | World premiere | Supported by Doha Film Institute

In a polyandrous village in the Himalayas, the pregnant Pema faces scrutiny after her main husband vanishes. She goes in search of him, accompanied by her secondary husband, Karma. Her quest evolves into a journey of self-discovery and liberation.

Small Things Like These (Kleine Dinge wie diese)

by Tim Mielants | with Cillian Murphy, Eileen Walsh, Michelle Fairley, Emily Watson, Clare Dunne

Ireland / Belgium 2024

Competition | World premiere | Opening film

1985, New Ross, Ireland. Bill Furlong, a devoted family man, toils as a coal merchant. An encounter at the local convent forces Bill to confront his past and the complicit silence of a town controlled by the Catholic Church.

Sterben (Dying)

by Matthias Glasner | with Lars Eidinger, Corinna Harfouch, Lilith Stangenberg, Ronald Zehrfeld, Robert Gwisdek

Germany 2024

Competition | World premiere

Mother Lissy, father Gerd, son Tom and daughter Ellen: the members of the Lunies family are estranged. But confronted with death, they finally meet each other again.

Des Teufels Bad (The Devil’s Bath)

by Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala | with Anja Plaschg, David Scheid, Maria Hofstätter

Austria / Germany 2024

Competition | World premiere

Upper Austria, 1750. Agnes, a young married woman, feels like a stranger in her husband’s world. A shocking act seems to be her only way out. A profound and disturbing psychological portrait of a woman, based on historical court records.

Vogter (Sons)

by Gustav Möller | with Sidse Babett Knudsen, Sebastian Bull, Dar Salim, Marina Bouras, Olaf Johannessen

Denmark / Sweden 2024

Competition | World premiere

Prison guard Eva faces the dilemma of her lifetime when a young man from her past is transferred to the prison where she works. Without revealing her secret, she asks to be moved to his block.

Yeohaengjaui pilyo (A Traveler’s Needs)

by Hong Sangsoo | with Isabelle Huppert, Lee Hyeyoung, Kwon Haehyo, Cho Yunhee, Ha Seongguk

South Korea 2024

Competition | World premiere

A woman plays a child’s recorder in the park. She says she is from France. With no means of support, she has been advised to teach French and takes two Korean women as her pupils. She likes to lie down on rocks and drinks makgeolli for a bit of comfort.



by Yorgos Zois | with Vangelis Mourikis, Angeliki Papoulia, Elena Topalidou, Nikolas Papagiannis, Vangelis Evangelinos

Greece / Bulgaria / USA 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Neurologist Katerina accompanies Yannis, a retired doctor, to identify the victim of a car accident. Once there, she sees her worst suspicions confirmed. The two unravel a haunting tale of love, loss, acceptance and letting go.

Cidade; Campo

by Juliana Rojas | with Fernanda Vianna, Mirella Façanha, Bruna Linzmeyer, Kalleb Oliveira, Andrea Marquee

Brazil / Germany / France 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Two tales of migration, memories and ghosts. After a disaster floods her land, Joana moves to São Paulo and tries to restart her life. Following the death of her father, Flavia moves to his farm in the country with her wife Mara.


by Mamadou Dia | with Ben Mahmoud Mbow, Awa Djiga Kane, Mamadou Sylla, Aicha Talla, Abdoulaye Dicko

Senegal / Germany / Qatar 2024

Encounters | World premiere | With the support of: FOPICA-Senegal, Berlinale World Cinema Fund, Canal+ International, Doha Film

Institute, Visions Sud Est

Demba is about to retire. He realises he is unable to simply “shake off” his wife’s death. As he awkwardly tries to deal with his conflicting emotions, he discovers a new connection with his son.

Direct ActionI

by Guillaume Cailleau, Ben Russell

Germany / France 2024

Encounters | World premiere

DIRECT ACTION documents the everyday lives of one of the most high-profile militant activist communities in France and asks whether the success of a radical protest movement can offer a path through the climate crisis.

Dormir de olhos abertos (Sleep with Your Eyes Open)

by Nele Wohlatz | with Chen Xiao Xin, Wang Shin-Hong, Liao Kai Ro, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Lu Yang Zong

Brazil / Taiwan / Argentina / Germany 2024

Encounters | World premiere

A coastal city in Brazil. Fu Ang, Kai and Xiao Xin rarely meet in this quiet comedy of misunderstandings. Yet during a hot, slow summer, delicate bonds grow between them like islands in a sea full of sharks.

The Fable

by Raam Reddy | with Manoj Bajpayee, Priyanka Bose, Deepak Dobriyal, Tillotama Shome, Hiral Sidhu

India / USA 2024

Encounters | World premiere

One day, Dev discovers trees have been burnt down in his orchard in the Indian Himalayas. Despite all his efforts, bigger and bigger fires break out, which ultimately leads to Dev having to face the truth about himself and his family.

Une famille (A Family)

by Christine Angot

France 2024

Encounters | World premiere | Debut film

This cinematographic journey of French novelist Christine Angot, who was abused by her father for years, challenges social norms and family perspectives in dealing with incest.


by Ruth Beckermann | with Ilkay Idiskut

Austria 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Ruth Beckermann accompanied a primary school class in Vienna for three years. Despite the difficult conditions at the school, this is an astonishingly cheerful film – about teaching, learning and the often very surprising experiences somewhere in between.


by Eva Trobisch | with Minna Wündrich, Pia Hierzegger, Lukas Turtur, Lilli Lacher, Johann Campean

Germany 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Ivo is a palliative care nurse. She has become close friends with her patient Solveigh. Ivo also has a relationship with Solveigh’s husband – in fact, they sleep with each other. When Solveigh decides to end her life, she asks Ivo to help her.

Khamyazeye bozorg (The Great Yawn of History)

by Aliyar Rasti | with Mohammad Aghebati, Amirhossein Hosseini, Saber Abar, Mahin Sadri, Mehrdad Ziaie

Iran 2024

Encounters | World premiere | Debut film

Beitollah dreams about a box of gold coins at the end of a cave. Since he is a very religious man and fears that the coins might not be halal, he finds a non-religious assistant to accompany him on the search.

Kong fang jian li de nv ren (Some Rain Must Fall)

by Qiu Yang | with Yu Aier, Di Shike, Wei Yibo, Xu Tianyi, Gu Tingxiu

People’s Republic of China / USA / France / Singapore 2024

Encounters | World premiere | Debut film

Cai, a 45-year-old housewife from the Chinese middle classes, is in a crisis. She no longer knows who she is or who she wants to be. Following a seemingly trivial incident, her life goes off the rails and she heads into an uncertain future.

Mãos no fogo (Hands in the Fire)

by Margarida Gil | with Carolina Campanela, Marcello Urgeghe, Adelaida Teixeira, Rita Durão, Sofia Vilariço

Portugal 2024

Encounters | World premiere

While exploring old manor houses along the Douro River, the young film student Maria do Mar finds herself trapped in a house of horrors.

Matt and Mara (Matt und Mara)

by Kazik Radwanski | with Deragh Campbell, Matt Johnson, Mounir Al Shami, Emma Healey, Avery Nayman

Canada 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Mara, a young professor, is struggling with marital problems when she suddenly meets Matt, a man from her past, who wanders onto her university campus.

Through the Graves the Wind Is Blowing

by Travis Wilkerson | with Ivan Peric, Travis Wilkerson, Matilda Jane Wilkerson, Dalton Wilkerson

USA 2024

Encounters | World premiere

A frustrated detective tries to solve a series of murders in Split, Croatia, where the breakup of Yugoslavia has left its mark.

Tú me abrasas (You Burn Me | Du verbrennst mich)

by Matías Piñeiro | with Gabi Saidón, María Villar, María Inês Gonçalves, Agustina Muñoz, Ana Cris Barragán

Argentina / Spain 2024

Encounters | World premiere

Tú me abrasas is an adaptation of “Sea Foam”, a chapter from Cesare Pavese’s “Dialoghi con Leucò” in which the Greek poet Sappho and the nymph Britomartis talk of desire and death.

Berlinale Special

Averroès & Rosa Parks (At Averroes & Rosa Parks)

by Nicolas Philibert

France 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

A psychiatric clinic in Paris. Individual interviews and patient-carer meetings reveal a form of psychiatry that gives more space to the patients’ words. Little by little, the door to each of their worlds opens wider.

Beom-Joe-do-si 4 (The Roundup: Punishment)

by Heo Myeong-haeng | with Don Lee, Kim Moo-yul, Park Ji-hwan, Lee Dong-hwi

South Korea 2024

Berlinale Special Gala | World premiere

“Monster Cop” Ma Seok-do is investigating an illegal online gambling organisation. As he begins to hunt down the criminals, he proposes an unexpected alliance.

Elf Mal Morgen: Berlinale Meets Fußball (Eleven Tomorrows: Berlinale Meets Football)

by Maximilian Bungarten, Anna-Maria Dutoit, Kilian Armando Friedrich, Indira Geisel, Eva Gemmer, Felix Herrmann, Hannah Jandl,

Justina Jürgensen, Hilarija Ločmele, Daniela Magnani Hüller, Sophie Mühe, Camille Tricaud, Marie Zrenner

Germany 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

Eleven short documentaries about eleven youth football teams for different age groups and with varying prospects. This Berlinale project is part of the cultural programme of the 2024 European Football Championship hosted by Germany.

exergue – on documenta 14

by Dimitris Athiridis

Greece 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

The film follows artistic director Adam Szymczyk and his curatorial team over two years as they prepare documenta 14. A look behind the scenes of the institutional art world and a consideration of the role of contemporary art in a shifting global landscape.

Hako Otoko (The Box Man)

by Gakuryu Ishii | with Masatoshi Nagase, Tadanobu Asano, Koichi Sato, Ayana Shiramoto, Yuko Nakamura

Japan 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

A man gives up his identity and his normal life to live with a cardboard box over his head. The photographer Myself decides to become a box man too. But his path to get there is not easy. Challenges and dangers lie in wait.

Das leere Grab (The Empty Grave)

by Agnes Lisa Wegner, Cece Mlay | with John Mbano, Cesilia Mollel, Felix Kaaya, Ernest Kaaya, Mnyaka Sururu Mboro

Germany / Tanzania 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

John Mbano and Cesilia Mollel are on a mission to bring the stolen remains of their ancestor back home to Tanzania. A story about loved ones kept in German museums, the power of institutions, generational trauma and resilience.

Love Lies Bleeding

by Rose Glass | with Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Ed Harris, Dave Franco, Jena Malone

USA / United Kingdom 2023

Berlinale Special Gala | International premiere

Jackie, an ambitious bodybuilder heading through town on the way to Las Vegas, falls in love with the reclusive gym manager Lou. But their love ignites violence, pulling them deep into the web of Lou’s criminal family.

Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger

by David Hinton | with Martin Scorsese

United Kingdom 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

Martin Scorsese presents this very personal and insightful new feature-length documentary about the British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.


by Amos Gitai | with Irène Jacob, Hana Laslo, Yael Abecassis, Bahira Ablassi, Menashe Noy

Israel / France / Switzerland / Brazil / United Kingdom 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

Set within a single Israeli multi-use building, the Shikun, and inspired by Eugène Ionesco’s classic play “Rhinoceros”, a collection of theatrical episodes dramatises the rise of authoritarian thinking, as some characters turn into rhinoceroses and others resist.


by Francesca Manieri, Francesca Manieri (Creator), Matteo Rovere, Francesco Carrozzini, Francesca Mazzoleni (Directors) | with

Alessandro Borghi, Jasmine Trinca, Adriano Giannini, Jade Pedri, Linda Caridi

Italy 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

Freely inspired by the life and memoirs of Rocco Siffredi, Supersex looks at the hidden side of a porn star: his childhood, family and origins, his relationship with love and his reasons for embarking on a career in the sex industry.

Turn in the Wound

by Abel Ferrara | with Volodymyr Oleksandrovyč Zelenskyj, Andrei Yermak, Patti Smith

United Kingdom / Germany / Italy / USA 2024

Berlinale Special | World premiere

Abel Ferrara explores human conflict and the search for peace and balance through the music and words of Patti Smith and the experiences of people at war in Ukraine.

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Berlinale 2024

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