Well, I sensed this was coming. Even though some sources stringently maintained that Lars von Trier was not pursuing a festival berth for his gargantuan sex epic “Nymphomaniac,” the timing simply made too much sense for this not to happen: the Danish director’s, er, extended cut of the film will have its world premiere out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February.
Well, half of it, at least.
“Berlinale audiences will be the first to see the long uncut version of ‘Nymphomaniac: Volume I,'” confirmed Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick. “Lars von Trier, a guest of the Berlinale for the first time in 1984, returns to the festival with this film. The aesthetic he has created in ‘Nymphomaniac’ is impressive and radical.”
This is, of course, something of a qualified unveiling: critics and industry folk have already seen the “shorter” four-hour edition of “Nymphomaniac,” which was edited with von Trier’s approval, but not under his direction. It opens for Danish audiences, meanwhile, on Christmas Day. (What could be more festive, after all?)
The Berlin premiere, however, will be the first glimpse of the film as the provocateur intends it to be seen, and I’m quite content to wait for that. (I didn’t make it to a screening in London earlier this week, and while my Lars-love dies hard, I’m not overly inclined to sit through 80% of the film twice in the space of two months.)
It’s going to feel odd seeing a Lars von Trier opus unspool at Berlin. While “The Boss of it All” premiered at Copenhagen, and “The Five Obstructions” at Berlin, Cannes has been the director’s second home throughout his career — persona non grata and all. A whopping nine of his films have competed for the Palme d’Or, though he’s never been in equivalent competition at Venice or Berlin.
The out-of-competition status of “Nymphomaniac: Part I” won’t change that, of course. (Given that Berlin has never been opposed to having pre-seen films in Competition, I wonder if there was any push to have things otherwise.) Either way, however, it’s a major coup for the usually-less-glamorous sister of the European majors, which is already shaping up quite enviably with Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” as its opening film. Given that Anderson’s last film opened Cannes, Kosslick is encroaching on Thierry Fremaux’s turf a fair bit this year.
This year’s Berlin Film Festival will run from February 6-16, 2014. The first Competition selections were announced earlier this week.