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This week at the kino: Two film fests and a Harry Potter marathon

Aussie gems, audience favourites and a 24-hour Potter marathon, plus catch horror b-movie "Ready or Not", Berlinale Grand Jury Prize winner "By The Grace Of God", and more happening in the Berlin film world this week.

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Photo by Csaba Aknay, courtesy of A24. Catch Midsommar in Berlin cinemas now!

It’s a jam-packed few days coming up, so let’s get down to it. The Down Under Berlin Film Festival starts tonight (Sep 26) at Moviemento (through Sep 29), with Stray, a terrific New Zealand feature by writer-director Dustin Feneley. Check out our preview, and keep your eyes peeled for screenings of Gabrielle Brady’s mesmerizing doc Island of the Hungry Ghosts, which screens tomorrow evening (Sep 27) at 20:00. 

Also celebrating its 9th edition is the Favourites Film Festival, which returns with its simple premise – every film screened must have won an audience award at a previous festival. Taking place at City Kino Wedding through Sep 29, we recommend you book your tickets right now for Talking About Trees, truly one of the most stunning and impactful films from this year’s Berlinale. Screening on Saturday (Sep 28) at 17:00 (with English subs, natürlich), this winner of the Panorama Audience Award for Best Documentary is an ode to cinema which charts the attempts of a group of filmmakers to keep cinema alive in the conservative Sudanese city of Omdurman. 

If you’re a card-carrying Pothead (Pothead? Potterhead? Dumblewhore?), wands out (quit that snickering at the back) and head to Babylon, who have something magical in store for you: from Friday (Sep 27) through to Saturday (Sep 28), they’re screening all 1400 minutes of the entire Harry Potter film series, including the Fantastic Beast films. The 24-hour back-to-back marathon starts at 18:00 and will feature free breakfast and prize giveaways.

It’s also a busy week for general releases, with something for everyone. Grace A Dieu (By The Grace Of God) saw French filmmaker François Ozon nab the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Berlinale; his procedural approach to the story of Lyon’s clerical sex abuse scandal is commendable, but the overall film is lacking emotional definition. Playland USA is an imaginative if at times scattershot documentary from German director Benjamin Schindler, who tackles the history of the US via abstract vignettes – it premieres at Babylon tonight (Sep 26) at 20:00, with the presence of Schindler and his team. Another doc out this week is Celebration, the long-time shelved and surprising chronicling of what would be Yves Saint-Laurent’s final show.

The week’s tentpole releases are The Goldfinch, the disappointing adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, as well as Midsommar, Ari Aster’s sprawling follow-up to last year’s Hereditary. More meh than mesmerizing? We’ll let you be the judge, with our Pro & Con review. Finally, if you’re in the mood for something altogether leaner and more fun in the horror genre, go see Ready Or Not, a schlocky B-movie that’ll satisfy your all your Clue-meets-You’re Next hankerings.