Cillian murphy opens berlinale with world premiere of “small things like these” – A powerful drama unveiling Ireland’s dark past.

Renowned actor and Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy took the spotlight at Berlin’s international film festival, Berlinale, on Thursday. The festival commenced with the world premiere of “Small Things Like These,” a gripping drama shedding light on Ireland’s infamous laundries used as prison camps for marginalized young women. Adapted from Claire Keegan’s bestselling novel, the film co-stars Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones”) and Emily Watson (“Chernobyl”) and competes for the prestigious Golden Bear top prize among 20 other contenders.

Making history, Kenyan-Mexican actor Lupita Nyong’o serves as the first black jury president in Berlinale’s 74-year history. The 11-day cinema extravaganza is a vital platform for global film launches, often paralleling the significance of Cannes and Venice.

Despite the challenges posed by the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, industry experts anticipate heightened excitement on the red carpet and at the European Film Market. Scott Roxborough of The Hollywood Reporter expressed optimism about the return of the festival’s old spirit.

In “Small Things Like These,” Cillian Murphy, fresh from his Academy Award nomination for “Oppenheimer,” reunites with director Tim Mielants, known for the hit series “Peaky Blinders.” Murphy plays a devoted father unraveling shocking secrets tied to the Magdalene laundries, a dark chapter in modern Ireland’s history.

The festival promises a diverse lineup, featuring A-list stars, politically charged films, documentaries, and unique arthouse productions. Adam Sandler presents “Spaceman,” Gael Garcia Bernal stars in “Another End,” and Rooney Mara leads the cast in the immigration drama “La Cocina.” Notably, “Pepe” delves into the inner life of a hippopotamus from Pablo Escobar’s private menagerie.

Legendary director Martin Scorsese, a 10-time Oscar nominee for best director, will receive an Honorary Golden Bear for lifetime achievement in Berlin. However, Iran’s Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha face travel restrictions, preventing them from premiering their feminist competition entry, “My Favourite Cake.”

As the festival unfolds, off-screen activities are expected to include protests addressing the war in Gaza. With the rise of far-right movements globally, Berlinale will spotlight films exploring Germany’s Nazi past, such as “Treasure” featuring Stephen Fry and Lena Dunham, and the German drama “From Hilde, With Love” starring Liv Lisa Fries, recounting the true story of a couple in the “Red Orchestra” resistance group during 1942.