film festivities

Sean Penn’s Ukraine Doc, Superpower, to Premiere at Berlinale 2023

Sean Penn Photo: Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images

Sean Penn and Aaron Kaufman’s documentary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Superpower, will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2023 as the Berlinale Special Gala film. This year’s program takes place February 16 to 26, a year after the February 24 invasion. “I guess part of the decision is precisely that the Berlin Film Festival will take place exactly one year after the burst of war, and maybe showing this film in Berlin has a more relevant meaning that in any other place because we are close to Ukraine, because Ukrainian people live in Berlin, and also because of the political value of this film,” said Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrain of the choice to go with Superpower as the Gala’s centerpiece. “But it’s not the only one dealing with Ukraine. For me, Superpower — I’m aware that it will drag a lot of attention — is a great door to let you enter to the very complex, rich description of what happened and is still happening in Ukraine right now.”

The festival’s lineup opens with Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me, starring Peter Dinklage as a composer with writer’s block alongside Marisa Tomei, Joanna Kulig, Brian d’Arcy James, and Anne Hathaway. Director John Tengrove makes his Berlinale debut with the Jesse Eisenberg– and Adrien Brody–starring Manodrome. BlackBerry, a Matt Johnson–directed film starring Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, and Cary Elwes and focusing on the story of the Canadian smartphone company, is on the competition lineup as well. They’ll have to face Sundance breakout Past Lives, directed by playwright Celine Song and starring Greta Lee and Teo Yoo. Kristen Stewart is head juror, while Steven Spielberg is receiving a lifetime-achievement honorary Golden Bear. Tschüss for now! Below, find the whole 2023 slate.

International Competition Lineup
20,000 Species of Bees — Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren
The Shadowless Tower — Zhang Lu
Till the End of the Night — Christoph Hochhausler
BlackBerry — Matt Johnson
Disco Boy — Giacomo Abbruzzese
The Plough — Philippe Garrel
Ingeborg Bachmann — Journey into the Desert — Margarethe von Trotta
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything — Emily Atef
Limbo — Ivan Sen
Bad Living — Joao Canijo
Manodrome — John Trengove
Music — Angela Schanelec
Past Lives — Celine Song
Afire — Christian Petzold
On the Adamant — Nicolas Philibert
The Survival of Kindness — Rolf de Heer
Suzume — Makoto Shinkai
Totem — Lila Ayles

Berlinale Special Gala
Superpower — Sean Penn, Aaron Kaufman

Encounters Films
The Klezmer Project — Leandro Koch, Paloma Schahmann
The Adults — Dustin Guy Defa
The Echo — Tatiana Huezo
Here — Bas Devos
In the Blind Spot — Ayse Polat
The Cage is Looking for a Bird — Malika Musaeva
My Worst Enemy — Mehran Tamadon
White Plastic Sky — Tibor Banoczki, Sarolta Szabo
In Water — Hong Sangsoo
Family Time — Tia Kuovo
The Walls of Bergamo — Stefano Savona
Orlando, My Political Biography — Paul B. Preciado
Samsara — Lois Patino
Eastern Front — V Mansky, Yevhen Titarenko
Living Bad — Joao Canijo
Absence — Wu Lang

Sean Penn’s Ukraine Doc, Superpower, to Screen at Berlinale