Berlin Film Fest 2022: Buzzy Titles

Berlin Festival’s Buzzy Projects

Film starring Johnny Depp, a youth-skewing horror film starring Asa Butterfield and the political drama ‘Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush’ are among the titles generating heat.

All eyes will be on Lionsgate’s February 4 release of Moonfall. Roland Emmerich’s $150 million sci-fi epic was the last major pre-pandemic presale for the international market.

At Cannes 2019, Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios closed lucrative deals with buyers in territories that are now struggling with the omicron surge. The performance of the film will be taken as a barometer of the future potential of the market.

“At the moment, we’re waiting to see how things develop, what happens with omicron, to decide what projects we bring to Berlin, what we hold for Cannes, and what maybe we sell straight to the streamers,” noted one veteran financier two weeks ahead of Berlin.

Such hesitation means the biggest market titles will likely be confirmed only shortly before EFM. But for speciality distributors worldwide, the art house and genre titles on offer could be just the ticket. Here are five titles with strong pre-market buzz.

A Man Called Otto

DIRECTOR Marc Forster
STARS Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller
BUZZ This long-in-development adaptation (by Finding Neverland and Life of Pi writer David Magee) of cross-over Swedish hit A Man Called Ove, featuring Hanks as a curmudgeonly widower who begins a reluctant friendship with his new neighbors, is certain to spark a bidding war among high-end indie distributors, if a global streamer doesn’t pick it up first.
SALES STX International/ CAA Media Finance/Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark


DIRECTOR Justin Kurzel
STARS Laura Dern, Benedict Cumberbatch, Noah Jupe
BUZZ A high-concept gem for the art-house crowd, this sci-fi drama, set in a near future where society has done away with the need for sleep, is certain to pull in bids from both streamers and traditional distribs, particularly given its awards-heavy cast of Dern and Cumberbatch (both of whom executive produce).
SALES HanWay Films/ CAA Media Finance/UTA Independent Film

Starve Acre

DIRECTOR Daniel Kokotajlo
STARS Matt Smith, Morfydd Clark
BUZZ Horror remains one of the few surefire genres, and this supernatural frightener, set in rural England in the 1970s, could tap into the same global audience that made folk horror Midsummer a sleeper hit.
SALES Cornerstone

The Outrun

DIRECTOR Nora Fingscheidt
STARS Saoirse Ronan
BUZZ Darker drama can be a hard sell for the indie market but the star power of four-time Oscar nominee Ronan, and the track record of director Fingscheidt, hot off the one-two success of 2019 debut System Crasher and Netflix hit The Unforgivable, should make this project, an adaptation of the Amy Liptrot’s best-selling memoir about a woman recovering from addiction, who returns to her childhood farm on Scotland’s Orkney Islands, a must-have for specialty buyers.
SALES Protagonist/CAA Media Finance

All Fun and Games

DIRECTORS Ari Costa and Eren Celeboglu
STARS Asa Butterfield, Natalia Dyer
BUZZ A youth-skewing horror title sure to be snatched up by international buyers, this low-budget, high-concept feature from Joe and Anthony Russo’s AGBO and Greenland producer Anton sees Sex Education star Butterfield and Stranger Things‘ Dyer caught in a kids’ game that turns deadly.

The Forger

DIRECTOR Maggie Peren
STARS Louis Hofmann, Luna Wedler
BUZZ Quality WW2 dramas out of Germany have a built-in international arthouse audience and this feature, based on the memoirs of Samson “Cioma” Schönhaus, a Jew who hid in plain sight in Berlin in the 1940s, forging identity documents for himself and others, offers a twist on the Holocaust story, with an upbeat and optimistic central character, played by Dark star Hofmann.
SALES Beta Cinema


The Bricklayer

DIRECTOR Renny Harlin
STAR Aaron Eckhart
BUZZ After teaming with Millennium and Gerard Butler’s shingle G-Base on the Has Fallen films, a global sales success, Eckhart gets his own shot at an action-thriller franchise, playing an ex-CIA agent forced out of retirement to take down an international conspiracy.
SALES Millennium Media

Peter von Kant

DIRECTOR François Ozon
STARS Denis Ménochet, Isabelle Adjani, Hanna Schygulla
BUZZ French Ozon is targeting the art house market with a loose, and gender-flipped, adaptation of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 classic The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Ozon moves the action from the world of fashion to the world of film with Ménochet playing a director (bearing resemblance to Fassbinder) who falls in love with handsome young man he takes in and promises to turn into a star.
SALES: Playtime

Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush

DIRECTOR Andreas Dresen
BUZZ Berlin is always a strong market for political films, and this new drama from German art house favorite Dresen (Stopped on Track) — which chronicles the true story of a Turkish-German housewife who fought the U.S. government for the release of her son, falsely imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay — has specialty release written all over it.
SALES The Match Factory

Untitled Johnny Depp

STARS Johnny Depp
BUZZ Depp is still a major box office draw internationally, and this French project, in which he plays King Louis XV of France, should have no problem finding support
SALES Wild Bunch International