Last year, the 64th Berlin Film Festival screened some of 2014's most prestigious films including The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood. This year, among the art house pictures and the awards bait, the big screen adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey will make its international debut at the 65th Berlin Film Festival. In the words of E.L. James's inexplicably popular erotica novel, "Holy crap."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film's director Sam Taylor-Johnson, along with stars Jamie Dornan (the hyper-clingy Christian Grey) and Dakota Johnson (lip biting extraordinaire Anastasia Steele) will be on hand for the Feb. 11 premiere, which is set just two days before Fifty Shades arrives in U.S. theaters. The film will be a one-time screening at the festival as part of a Berlinale Special Gala.
I know what you're thinking, "Hey, if they're going to debut Fifty Shades of Grey at an International Film Festival shouldn't it be at the Seattle Film Festival, complete with helicopter landing pad for Dornan and Johnson to arrive at?" OK, maybe you're not thinking that. Maybe you're thinking, "Hold on, Fifty Shades is good enough to make its debut at a hoity-toity film festival?!"
The short answer is probably no. No, Fifty Shades probably won't be winning any awards at an international film festival. But, film festivals aren't always for critically beloved masterpieces. In fact, film festivals have been the home to some pretty low-brow and/or mainstream stuff.
Here's a list of surprising movies that screened at popular film festivals over the past five years as proof:
In 2009 the saccharine female-lead dramedy The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood premiered in movie geek heaven, better known as the Tribeca Film Festival.
One of my favorite movies of 2010, the Emma Stone star vehicle Easy A, premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, alongside the likes of The King's Speech, 127 Hours, and Blue Valentine.
Madonna movies rarely scream, "Film festival-worthy!" That was still the case in 2011 when her bomb, the romantic drama W.E. premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
The absurdist comedy Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie grated the nerves of 2012 Sundance Film Festival goers so much, they reportedly "stormed out" of the screening.
In 2013, the magician comedy The Great Burt Wonderstone was the opening movie at the once-indie darling birthing ground SXSW.
Boos at the Cannes Film Festival can often be the sign that a movie is going to turn out to be great (see: Taxi Driver and Inglorious Basterds, among others), but sometimes they've booed for all the right reasons. Take, for instance, 2013's massive Ryan Gosling misfire, the so-bad-its-bad crime drama Only God Forgives. Not always.
The Fault in Our Stars was not only one of 2014's biggest hits with both critics and filmgoers alike, but the adaptation of the beloved YA novel (a genre that too often is, unfairly, not taken seriously) also made the festival circuit, screening at the Seattle Film Festival and the Napa Valley Film Festival.