Berlinale announces opening gala host and honorary Golden Bear

promising us exciting 70th edition of festival

The 70th Berlin International Film Festival will take place from February 20 - March 1, 2020. The anniversary edition will be the first Berlinale headed by Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek and Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.


Even though it is still too early to get a first glimpse at films that are competing this year, as well as what will be introduced on the market, some exciting announcements have already happened. The directors have invited award-winning film and stage actor Samuel Finzi to host the festival opening on February 20, and the glamourous Awards Ceremony on February 29, 2020.


Samuel Finzi began acting in his first theatre and cinema roles during his studies. Early in his career, he came into contact with directors who strongly influenced the European stage and screen. In addition to his activities on all major German-language and numerous European stages, Samuel Finzi has taken on roles in varying film and television productions, impressing viewers in terms of box office hits and independent films. His in-depth and expressive, almost entire immersion into human mannerisms and his effortless, yet very accurate acting are celebrated by critics and audiences alike. Samuel Finzi is one of the most sought-after stages and screen actors in the German-speaking world and has garnered numerous awards for his work. He is currently filming a number of cinema and television productions and can be seen in leading stage roles at the Burgtheater in Vienna, the Deutsche Theater in Berlin and at Schauspiel Hannover. 


If Finzi wasn't big enough news, Berlinale decided to drop the name Hellen Miren for Homage and Honorary Golden Bear 2020. 


After working mainly in theatre, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mirren’s first major film role was in Michael Powell’s 1969 comedy Age of Consent. She subsequently made her mark in 1980s The Long Good Friday (dir: John Mackenzie), playing the assertive girlfriend of a top gangster. Her portrayal of Georgina in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) was also legendary. Beginning in the 1990s, Helen Mirren increasingly expanded and diversified her roles in both film and television, among them Robert Altman’s 2001 Gosford Park (Berlinale 2002). Her flair for comedy was once again in evidence with Calendar Girls (2003, dir: Nigel Cole). Between 1991 and 2006, she headed up the seven instalments of the TV series Prime Suspect as police superintendent Jane Tennison.


In The Last Station (2009), directed by Michael Hoffmann, she played Leo Tolstoy’s wife Sofya. She was at the Berlinale in 2015, alongside co-star Ryan Reynolds, with Woman in Gold (dir: Simon Curtis). Since then, she has appeared onscreen in Eye in the Sky (2015, dir: Gavin Hood) and The Leisure Seeker (2017, dir: Paolo Virzì) among others.


In the homage selection, five H. Miren classics will be shown:

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, UK / France / Netherlands 1989, director: Peter Greenaway

The Good Liar, USA 2019, director: Bill Condon

The Last Station, Germany / UK / Russia 2009, director: Michael Hoffmann

The Long Good Friday, UK 1980, director: John Mackenzie

The Queen, UK / France / Italy 2006, director: Stephen Frears

© Credit: Brian Dowling