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Grand Budapest Hotel

Must-sees at the Berlin Film Festival

Wes Anderson, Lars Von Trier and Yves Saint Laurent all feature at the 2014 festival

The Berlin Film Festival kicks off next week. From the director’s cut of Lars Von Trier’s sex addict epic Nymphomanic to the on-form latests from Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson, here’s what not to miss if you can make it to Potsdamer Platz to soak up the goodness.


Set in an alternate 20s Europe and shot in Germany, Wes Anderson’s majestic-looking latest opens the fest, and sees famed hotel concierge Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) join forces with bell-boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) to hide a Renaissance painting he’s been bequeathed after the death of his one-night stand. Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux and Jason Schwartzman are all on its roll-call of stars.


The epic latest from indie legend Richard Linklater has been 11 years in the making, gathering the actors together every year to shoot the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from schooldays in Austin to college. Ethan Hawke is his deadbeat dad and Patricia Arquette his prone-to-bad-hook-ups single mum, in this sprawling portrait of American youth that met with rave reviews at Sundance.


The director’s cut (saucier? more strange digressions?) of provocateur Lars Von Trier’s epic-length confessional tale of a sex addict has its world premiere at Berlin. Part one of the last instalment in his Trilogy of Depression sees Charlotte Gainsbourg as nymophomaniac Joe, who catalogues her life’s carnal encounters to the man (Stellan Skarsgard) who’s helped her off the cobbles after a beating. Brimming with dysfunctional power-play, sly humour and bold philosophising, this is the Dane at his impishly transgressive best.


The story goes that when director Bong Joon-ho came across Jean-Marc Rochette’s comic Snowpiercer in a bookshop in Seoul, he was so transfixed he read all three volumes there and then. Now, the parable about the final days of humankind – where the last survivors are circling the earth on a wealth-segregated express train - has been made into the most extravagant Korean spectacle of all time, with Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell in the cast.

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH, 2014

The 20,000th day in the life of black-clad antihero Nick Cave is the focus of this poetic blend of reality and fiction by artist duo Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth. Their imaginative portrait of the Australian musician includes him in unscripted conversation with a shrink.


Jalil Lespert’s biopic of the French fashion couturier is one of two rival movies this year on his turbulent life. This one, starring Pierre Niney, has the support of Laurent’s longtime business partner and lover Pierre Berge, who loaned the film 77 vintage outfits from his foundation’s archives and helped reconstruct the maestro’s famed 1976 Opera Russes collection show.


Blue is the Warmest Colour star Lea Seydoux stars with Vincent Cassel in this sumptuous-looking visual spectacle (more is more in Berlin this year by the looks) from Christophe Gans. The French take on the well-known fairytale, set in the 19th Century, sees a girl draw close to the creature that’s sentenced her father to death.

52 TUESDAYS, 2013

Aussie director Sophie Hyde shot her Sundance-awarded, doc-style drama chronologically over a year – and only on Tuesdays. It stars newcomer Tilda Cobham-Hervey as a 16-year-old whose mother is going through gender reassignment surgery. She visits her once a week, while getting entangled in her own identity-exploring mischief and trysts.


A fed-up young writer (Lauri Lagle) gets fired from his hack newspaper job for writing an expletive-ridden film review of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life then finds out his girlfriend is pregnant in the bitingly cynical, visually striking latest from Estonian director Veiko Õunpuu, who also made surreal festival hit The Temptation of St Tony and here makes the most of a languid ‘70s soundtrack.


“Watching a Jack Smith film is like being at the end of a party in the presence of the last guest who refuses to go home,” says curator Jerry Tartaglia, who has pulled together a bunch of footage from underground legend and queer icon Jack Smith. Inspired by Hollywood kitsch and Orientalism, he was one of the first proponents of trash aesthetics, and his no-budget movies influenced creators from Andy Warhol to John Waters, Nan Goldin to David Byrne.