Festival plans move forward as Berlin copes with suspected terrorist attack
Update: suspected Berlin attacker killed in Milan shootout
A Berlin convulsed by a suspected terrorist attack on a Christmas market is moving ahead with plans for its signature annual event: the Berlin Film Festival.
The first films to make the competition lineup and additional categories have been revealed, in the midst of the investigation into Monday's attack, where a truck jumped a sidewalk and plowed into a crowd near the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, killing 12. The church is not far from some of the festival's main venues.
Note: according to reports, Anis Amri, the man suspected of carrying out the truck attack, was killed in a shootout with police in Milan, Italy early Friday.
As for the Berlinale program, Michael Winterbottom's music documentary On the Road will open the festival's Generation 14plus section. The film follows the British band Wolf Alice as they crisscross their native country on tour.
The film intimately portrays life on the road, in all its ecstasy and exhaustion.
The festival hailed the documentary as "vibrant," adding, "The film intimately portrays life on the road, in all its ecstasy and exhaustion. The connection between the musicians and their fans is palpable and there is a fine interplay between watching and listening amongst concert and film audiences."
Also in the Generation 14plus section is the documentary Almost Heaven, directed by Carol Salter.
The festival provided a thumbnail description of the film: "Far from home, 17-year-old Ying Ling practices for her examination to become a mortician at one of China’s largest funeral homes. In addition to frequent qualms and farewell ceremonies, the everyday routine of this unusual occupation also serves up both humorous and life affirming moments."
Carol Salter’s debut outing is an empathetic documentary portrait touching on fears, friendship and coming of age amidst ghosts and the dearly departed.
The festival has announced the first group of films to make the coveted competition lineup, including one documentary -- Beuys by director Andres Veiel. The Stuttgart native's credits include If Not Us, Who?  and the documentaries Der Kick  and Addicted to Acting 
Unlike the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin gives prominent placement to documentary features.
Last February Gianfranco Rosi's documentary Fuocoammare [Fire at Sea] won the prestigious Golden Bear, the festival's top prize.
Raoul Peck's documentary I Am Not Your Negro will screen in the Berlinale's Panorama section. The film based on unpublished work of James Baldwin has been shortlisted for the Academy Award and recently won best writing honors at the IDA Awards in Hollywood.
Accepting the IDA award, Peck said, "James Baldwin has been an important person in my life. I think he framed me, he framed who I am. He helped me understand the world we are in today."
I Am Not Your Negro is not Peck's only film accepted at Berlin. The Berlinale Special section will feature the world premiere of his dramatic film, Le Jeune Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx). German actor August Diehl plays Marx in the film, which focuses on the author's early years in Paris, Brussels and London.
Among the other documentary titles in the Panorama section is Kitty Green's film Casting JonBenet, which will hold its world premiere a few weeks before the Berlinale at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film explores the impact of the murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey on the community of Boulder, Colorado where her family lived at the time of the diminutive beauty pageant queen's death. This Christmas marks the 20th anniversary of the crime, which remains unsolved.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.