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10 Films We Can't Wait to See at Berlin 2024

It’s just around the corner: the 74th Berlin International Film Festival. Over the next week plus, RogerEbert.com will be hitting Berlinale to provide coverage of a plethora of new titles. Because between the stacked retrospective lineup, a busy European Film Market, and major premieres by a long list of distinguished filmmakers, there’s plenty to be excited about. Nevertheless, we thought it’d be best to provide a primer of ten titles we’ve been anticipating. Come back Monday for coverage from Ben Kenigsberg and yours truly.

“All the Long Nights”

A smaller title in this year’s lineup, “All the Long Nights” is writer/director Sho Miyake’s return to Berlinale. I didn’t catch his previous film “Slow, Small but Steady” when it premiered at the festival in 2022. Rather it was at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where I fell for the story of an unlikely woman boxer as the lead in a character study that seemed to break the sports movie rulebook through its meditative pacing and quiet capturing of pugilist exhibitions. “All the Long Nights” appears to be following the director’s penchant for nuanced interpersonal dynamics between seemingly broken individuals by way of a story involving a man suffering from panic attacks and a woman dealing with PMS. If “Slow, Small but Steady” is a sign of anything, Miyake will aim for the heart.    

“Abiding Nowhere”

Considering it took seven years for Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-liang to follow the intense realism of “Stray Dogs” with the sumptuous stillness of “Days,” it already feels like a win to receive another film from him so soon. “Abiding Nowhere” is the latest installment in the filmmaker’s walker series, concerning a monk moving across varying landscapes. The tenth installment is set in Washington D.C.

“Another End”

2024 has already been a busy festival season for Renate Reinsve, the French actress who burst onto the scene as the star of Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World.” She began this year’s festivities by premiering two new performances in “Handling the Undead” and “A Different Man” at Sundance. Now, she’s teaming with Gael García Bernal in writer/director Piero Messina’s “Another End.” In it, she plays Zoe, the dearly departed loved one to Bernal’s Sal. Heartbroken, Sal turns to a new device that can bring the consciousness of the dead back to inhabit new bodies. A film about how goodbye doesn’t have to be forever, on paper, “Another End” reads like a weepy primed to clean out tissue boxes. 

“Dahomey”

It’s taken five years for Mati Diop to return with a feature following her critical smash “Atlantics.” Much like that film, her documentary “Dahomey” similarly concerns movement between Europe and Western Africa. Rather than focusing on a group of young men braving perilous waters to find work in France, leaving their partners to long for their ghosts, the migration, here, is reversed: In November 2021, 26 pieces of art hailing from the Kingdom of Dahomey were set to be returned from the Musée du Quai de Branly in Paris to Cotonou in Benin over a 125 years after French colonizers looted them. One would expect “Dahomey” to be guided by Diop’s way of connecting past imperialism to present economic inequality. And one should be happy she’s back. 

“Meanwhile on Earth”

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for high-concept sci-fi. But when it comes from Jérémy Clapin, the filmmaker behind the Academy Award nominated Best Animated Feature “I Lost My Body,” well, now I’m first in line. Rather than following the usual trope of a space mission gone wrong from the astronaut’s perspective, Clapin’s film is told from the angle of the person left behind. Three years ago Elsa (Megan Northam) bid Franck (Yoan Germain Le mat) farewell; he’s been missing ever since. Now, with a message from an extraterrestrial source, Elsa’s hope is renewed. 

“Suspended Time”

I was totally over pandemic movies; after all, how many times do we have to see someone locked away in the confines of their own homes? We did, of course, live through that reality on our own. But then Berlinale announced that Olivier Assayas’ 2020-set film “Suspended Time” would premiere at the festival. And you know what? I’m game. Vincent Macaigne stars as Etienne, a film director trapped with his brother Paul and their respective partners Morgane and Carole, in the siblings’ childhood home during lockdown. We should probably expect some autobiographical elements to seep into Assayas’ film, his first work since the ill-fated espionage drama “Wasp Network,” and hopefully, a return to form.  

“Small Things Like These”

Cillian Murphy’s first film after Christopher Nolan’s historical epic “Oppenheimer,” is director Tim Mielants and screenwriter Enda Walsh’s adaptation of Claire Keegan’s same-titled novella “Small Things Like These.” Murphy plays Bill Furlong, a coal merchant, who in the days before Christmas 1985, discovers a secret about his tight-knit Irish Catholic town. Though Murphy was incredible leading Nolan’s blockbuster, it’ll be wonderful seeing the Irish return with what might be a more intimate tale. 

“Spaceman”

No matter what your expectations were for an Adam Sandler space movie, they couldn’t have foreseen the sobering yet oddball tone of the film’s trailer. Best known for the harrowing miniseries “Chernobyl,” director Johan Renck’s survivalist flick will see Sandler as an astronaut embarking on a long-distance mission taking him away from his loving wife (Carey Mulligan). Isabella Rossellini is also set to appear in the film, but it’s the presence of a large spider (voiced by Paul Dano), who becomes Sandler’s companion for much of his voyage that probably threw most people for a loop when it showed up in the trailer. The newest phase of Sandler’s career has already offered some of his best, most sensitive work — “Uncut Gems” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” — maybe “Spaceman” will be his latest forlorn triumph.  

“Through the Rocks and Clouds”

Recalling other rural international stories like “Utama” and “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,” Peruvian filmmaker Franco García Becerra’s “Through the Rocks and Clouds” is an intimate, magical realist drama about a young shepherd boy named Feliciano, who along with his alpaca Ronaldo and his dog Rambo, dream of Peru qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A new mine, however, threatens the town’s idyllic existence, pushing a way of life and the sanctity of their clean river in confrontation with the apathetic desires of commerce. Can a local legend protect these humble villagers? It’s up to a boy to find out. 

“A Traveler’s Needs”

Does Hong Sang-soo ever sleep? Having said that, I could probably ask the same of Isabelle Huppert. The two workaholic creatives are combining forces for a third time—they previously worked together on “Claire’s Camera” and “In Another Country”—in the writer/director’s latest effort “A Traveler’s Needs.” In the micro budget filmmaker’s intimate piece, Huppert plays an eccentric woman who’s been found sitting on a park bench playing a child’s recorder. To earn money she becomes a French teacher to two Korean students. It’s a fascinating set-up by the filmmaker that’s sure to be conceived through his usually probing methods. When an actor and a director collaborate as much as these two, you hope they find a new wrinkle to latch onto: But with Sang-soo and Huppert, I wouldn’t mind the easy comfort of getting more of the same. 

Robert Daniels

Robert Daniels is an Associate Editor at RogerEbert.com. Based in Chicago, he is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) and Critics Choice Association (CCA) and regularly contributes to the New York TimesIndieWire, and Screen Daily. He has covered film festivals ranging from Cannes to Sundance to Toronto. He has also written for the Criterion Collection, the Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone about Black American pop culture and issues of representation.

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