Canadian films at the 2021 Berlinale

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With world premieres, features, coproductions, and shorts, Canada will be there in fine form this year as the 71st Berlin International Film Festival reinvents its format. The industry platforms European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents will take place online March 1 through 5, 2021. From June 9 to 20, the festival is planning a Summer Special of physical screenings in Berlin theatres.

In March, Canada’s got an engaging online presence planned with a digital Canada Pavilion at the European Film Market.

Hot off the presses, here are the Canadian films, coproductions, and shorts selected for this year’s prestigious Berlinale! 

Official Competition

Joana Hadjithomas’s and Khalil Joreige’s Memory Box (Les Cahiers)

Making its world premiere is this France-Lebanon-Canada coproduction by these longtime Lebanese artistic collaborators. A Montreal teenager unravels her mother’s youth during civil war-stricken Lebanon of the 1980s through a box of mementos.


Denis Côté’s Social Hygiene (Hygiène sociale)

Another world premiere! Cast includes Quebec talent: Maxim Gaudette (who starred in Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated Incendies) and Larissa Corriveau, who appeared in Côté’s feature Ghost Town Anthology (Répertoire des villes disparues) which had its world premiere in competition at the 2019 Berlinale.

Berlinale Special

Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers

The star-studded cast of this U.K.-Canada coproduction (making its world premiere) includes Michael Caine, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, England-born Canadian actor Scott Speedman, and Canadian Ellen Wong. The story? A reclusive author, a book tour, and an eager publisher.

Azazel Jacobs’s French Exit

Michelle Pfeiffer stars as a socialite who, along with her cat and son, takes off to Paris (a role for which she’s earned a Golden Globe nomination)! Canadian writer Patrick deWitt adapted his book into the screenplay of this Canada-Ireland coproduction.

Best Sellers

Berlinale Shorts

John Greyson’s International Dawn Chorus Day

This documentary short is having its world premiere.


Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders

This Canada-New Zealand sci-fi coproduction from award-winning Indigenous filmmaker from Canada is set in a dystopian future. Her debut feature is making its world premiere, and Goulet (Cree/Métis, born in Saskatchewan) is no stranger to the Berlinale. Her 2012 short Barefoot earned a Special Mention from the jury when it screened in the fest’s Generation 14plus section the following year! (P.S. Night Raiders’s cast includes Amanda Plummer, Alex Tarrant, and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.)

Night Raiders

Generation Kplus

Tracey Deer’s Beans

Set in the 1990 Oka Crisis, Tracey Deer’s first feature is drawn from her own experiences during the event. The Mohawk filmmaker was awarded an emerging talent prize at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival Tribute Awards Ceremony, and scooped up the second runner-up honour in the TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Award category. It also won Best Canadian Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival and an audience award for Most Popular Canadian Narrative!


Generation 14plus

Igor Drljača’s The White Fortress (Tabija)

This Canada-Bosnia and Herzegovina coproduction tells the story of an unlikely romance in Sarajevo after the war. Awarded Eurimages funding in 2019, the feature is having its world premiere!


Sabrina Zhao’s The Good Woman of Sichuan (Sìchuan hao nuren)

This experimental feature makes its world premiere.

Rhayne Vermette’s Ste. Anne

This experimental narrative feature by Indigenous filmmaker Rhayne Vermette (Métis, born in Manitoba) was filmed on 16 mm. Blurring memory and place, the story is centered on the return of a woman to her family after several years missing. World premiere!

Forum Expanded

Pablo Alvarez Mesa’s Bicentenario (Colombia-Canada)

Documentary short.

Forum Expanded Exhibition

Thirza Cuthand’s Medicine and Magic (Canada)

Short, having its world premiere.

Rosalind Morris’s The Zama Zama Project (U.S.-South Africa-Canada)

Documentary short.

The White Fortress (Tabija)

Stay tuned for updates on all the online Berlinale and EFM activities Canada’s got planned, including film screenings, networking events, panels and more!

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