• Film
  • What not to miss at Berlin’s Fantasy Film Festival


What not to miss at Berlin’s Fantasy Film Festival

From September 13-20, Berlin’s Fantasy Film Fest returns with a thrill-filled programme. Here is our guide to the films you really can't miss this year.

Still from Mad Fate (Hong Kong, 2023), d. Soi Cheang. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.

Back for its 37th Berlin edition, the Fantasy Film Festival packs a huge punch. With a curatorial ability to transcend style and mood by subverting genre presumption, they use the term fantasy as a loose jumping-off point to explore provocative and innovative cinema. This isn’t just straight-up sci-fi or body horror weirdness – although there’s usually a healthy dose.

One of this year’s central points is Thomas Cailley’s The Animal Kingdom. The Cannes 2023 hit is a dystopian coming-of-age rollercoaster, following a father and son voyaging out in a world where humans mutate into animals. Cailley’s arthouse approach leads to something far from obvious.

Still from The Animal Kingdom (France, 2023), d. Thomas Cailley. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.
  • The Animal Kingdom: September 16 (8pm), French (OmeU), details.

Actor/director Nick Cassevettes offers a jolting thriller featuring a satanic cult and an undercover cop looking for his missing daughter in God Is a Bullet, starring Maike Monroe and Jamie Foxx. Conann, the newest film by the talented Bertrand Madico, is also set to screen.

Still from God Is a Bullet (Mexico, USA, 2023), d. Nick Cassevettes. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.
  • God Is a Bullet: September 15 (7:15pm), English, details.

Whether you love or loathe him, a new Nicholas Cage picture always gets people talking. In Yuval Adler’s Sympathy for the Devil, Cage provides the high octane performance one expects from a psychological thriller, with a man held at gunpoint by a mysterious passenger.

Still from Sympathy for the Devil (USA, 2023), d. Yuval Adler. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: September 18 (8pm), English, details.

East Asian flicks are very strong, with Lee Sang-yong’s The Roundup: No Way Out and Soi Cheang’s Mad Fate. Rui Cui’s and Liu Xiang’s mystery thriller Lost in the Stars is currently the biggest Chinese blockbuster, rumoured to be one of the most-watched Chinese films ever.

Still from Lost in the Stars (China, 2022), d. Rui Cui, Xiang Liu. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.
  • The Roundup: No Way Out: September 13 (10pm), Korean (OmeU), details.
  • Mad Fate: September 18 (5:30pm), Cantonese (OmeU), details.
  • Lost in the Stars: September 14 (5:45pm), Mandarin/Thai (OmeU), details.

With so much variety and a film for every kind of fantasy leaning, this will make for an exciting festival. Top tip: make sure you book a ticket for the much-anticipated opening film, an exclusive preview of Luc Besson’s forthcoming Dogman.

Still from Dogman (France, USA, 2023), d. Luc Besson. Image courtesy of Fantasy Film Fest.
  • Dogman: September 13 (7pm), English
  • Zoo Palast, Hardenbergstr. 29A, Charlottenburg, September 13 – 20, details.