It’s the end of an era for the Berlin International Film Festival, as Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian and his co-head Mariette Rissenbeek — a pair of fearless cineastes and programmers who came onboard together in the summer of 2019, and helped steer the world’s largest film festival through the crisis of the pandemic years — are being unceremoniously shoved out to sea after the 2024 edition as a part of cost-cutting measures instituted by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Claudia Roth.

It’s too soon to say how the Berlinale will shrink and suffer in the absence of the leadership that has allowed the festival to remain such a vital arena for world cinema at a time of industry-wide constriction (last year’s lineup included standouts like Christian Petzold’s “Afire,” Lila Aviles’ “Tótem,” and Makoto Shinkai’s “Suzume”), but even a quick overview of this year’s program suggests that Chatrian and Rissenbeek will be going out with a bang.

As usual, the Berlinale will play host to hundreds of films from around the world, the most high-profile of which will premiere in a Competition section that boasts enough big names to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Cannes and Venice: Olivier Assayas, Hong Sang-soo, Mati Diop, and the great Abderrahmane Sissako will all be unveiling new work at the Palast over the next two weeks.

And while Chatrian and Rissenbeek’s legacy will inevitably be judged by the strength of those selections (fingers crossed that Lupita Nyong’o’s jury star-studded jury helps spotlight the right ones), the lifeblood of the Berlinale continues to be found in the deep and essential sidebars whose selections may never receive a proper release in the United States. While our preview may be focused on the Competition, it’s those under-the-radar titles that best reflect the vision and dedication of the festival’s leadership, and the impact those artists have on the next decade of cinema will ultimately tell the full story of what the film world lost when the Berlinale decided to think smaller.

But if the 75th annual Berlinale might be in for a spot of trouble come next February, the 74th is poised to represent the festival at its best when it kicks off with Tim Mielants’ “Small Things Like These” on Thursday night, and Cillian Murphy’s first starring role since “Oppenheimer” along with it. Here are the 10 movies we’re most excited to see at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival, which runs from February 15 to February 25.

This article features additional reporting by Kate Erbland.

Leave a comment