As we mentioned last week, February can be a tricky month. Winter kicks in full-gear, Valentines day gets most of us annoyed and we’re all just waiting for it to be over so we can get into the official month of spring. But there is one thing that really helps forget about the frost, the shortness of days and winter blues. That thing is called Berlinale.

And this year, apart from the usual amazing program that never lets down and always delivers, there are a few novelties worth paying attention to. As we warm up for the upcoming ten days of chasing celebrities and top cinema spectacles, here are 5 highlights that will make this year exceptional.

1. This is the last year of Dieter Kosslick

Known for his humoristic approach to all things Berlinale, Dieter Kosslick has been the director of the festival since 2001, gracing the red carpet with his perpetual smile and great mood. This year, the 69th Berlinale will see this great mind off with a festival that has in focus films made by women about women. As someone who is constantly pushing the limits of creativity, Kosslick is definitely leaving a cinematographic legacy that will be remembered!

2. You’ll see it first – world premiers

As it goes with film festivals, and definitely with the biggest one of them all, we can expect not only extraordinary cinematography but extraordinary cinematography the world is yet to see! This time it’s the greatly anticipated “Watergate – Or: How We Learned to Stop and Out of Control President”. The film is aimed to create a strong impact on the audience as a parallel to the recent scandalous election of Trump. More titles to look out for include “Brecht“, a movie about the German author with the same name whose plays created ripples that affect us to this day, “Who Do You Think I Am” by the spectacular Juliette Binoche we all know and love. For lovers of rock stars there will be the unmissable “A Dog Called Money”, a documentary about the British icon PJ Harvey.

3. Women leading – The Jury

Apart from having her movie premiered in the Special Gala section, Juliette Binoche will also have the honor of heading the jury this year. With 30 years of acting, an Oscar nomination and a Silver Bear from this very festival, she is almost an obvious choice for the role. And, keeping in line with the festival’s focus on women, the jury of six will have two more women: Sandra Hüller and Trudie Styler.

4. The competing features

The traditional competition for the festival’s trademark: The Gold and Silver Bear will round up 17 features and directors from all over the world. From Spain and Poland to China and France, the competing names are definitely worth attending the festival for!

5. The opening act

And last but not least, as much as we love the saying “All is well that ends well”, first impressions are just as important. This year, the honor of opening the festival will fall in the hands of a Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig, who will give the audience a feature about life and love in New York entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Scherfig is one of seven female directors who will take part in this year’s competition at the festival and her feature Italian for Beginners has already won her a Silver Bear in 2001 – also the first year of Kosslick’s directing the festival. Only seems appropriate.

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