Fierce performances by lead actresses lit up the screens at this week’s Berlin International Film Festival which, after Cannes shunned female filmmakers in its competition last year, also has three women directors in the race.
In the first real favourite to emerge at the 11-day festival, the bittersweet Chilean film Gloria drew loud cheers at its world premiere, followed by an enthusiastic reception for France’s The Nun starring Isabelle Huppert.
Gloria, the first Chilean film in the Berlinale competition since 1991, tells the story of a divorcee pushing 60 who is determined to seek happiness despite the knocks life has in store for her.
The Nun, based on a novel by the Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot, features a teenager in pre-Revolution France who is committed to a convent against her will. Huppert stars as the convent’s Mother Superior.
The director Guillaume Nicloux said he saw the story of the girl’s struggle to escape the religious order as a still contemporary “ode to liberty”.
Beyond a raft of films centred on female protagonists, three women directors are competing in Berlin including Pia Marais with the South African thriller Layla Fourie and Emmanuelle Bercot’s On My Way starring Catherine Deneuve.