The Berlinale: a great cultural event and one of the most important dates for the international film industry. More than 334,000 sold tickets, more than 21,000 professional visitors from 127 countries, including more than 3,700 journalists: art, glamour, parties and business are all inseparably linked at the Berlinale.
Films of every genre, length and format find their place in the various sections: great international cinema in the Competition, independent and art house in Panorama, films for young audiences in Generation, new discoveries and promising talents from the German film scene in Perspektive Deutsches Kino, avant garde, experimental and unfamiliar cinematography in the Forum and Forum Expanded, and an exploration of cinematic possibilities in Berlinale Shorts.
The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community: film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects with other social and cultural actors – the forms of cooperation and the possibilities for creative interaction are countless.
Kazuhiro Sôda films the regular everyday life of his wife’s parents, Toshio and Hiroko Kashiwagi, who have now retired but continue to work as social assistants. Each of them goes to cook for someone, take him out to the park, to the doctor’s or to buy shoes, every day, and then they booth relax and work on their house, clean, cook, feed the cats. It’s a beautiful, understatedly romantic life in which they take their time and do everything with such care that it ends up looking like some kind of a ritual to a Western viewer.
In support of Brent Chesanek’s new film Academy and its production campaign, here is an interview with the filmmaker about his previous film, City World. Questions were sent on April 4, 2013; answers were received about two months later. …What’s…
Unsung Films watched Mike Freedman’s Critical Mass this year when it screened at the Biografilm Festival in Bologna. On approaching the filmmaker with a short review of his documentary, we ended up with a great deal more: a 3000-word interview taking readers deep into the story of how Freedman’s film came together, how it affected him – both personally and professionally — and what we should expect in the years to come.
Some documentarians are not content with being journalists, searching for the objective truth of a subject. Directors Even Benestad and August B. Hanssen pushed their medium to its limits in Pushwagner, a “documentary” (if that’s the right word) tracing a Norwegian pop artist known for dystopian sketches in a disarmingly simple, comic book style. “Maybe we could do this ‘Portrait of an Artist’ in a different, new way,” says Even in Sutton Place Hotel, Toronto. Pushwagner is having its North American premiere at Hot Docs.
A short film involves an entirely different creative process to a feature or a series. A filmmaker has very little time, less than 30 minutes to tell a story, grip his audience, evoke emotions and develop characters adequately. Indeed very few filmmakers manage to come up with shorts that tick all these boxes and the fact that Alethea Avramis’ The Foreigner does all this in less than half an hour and in a subtle and artistic way, is exactly what makes this film stand out among other shorts of its genre.
Punk was always a genre that found its stripped-down groove in unqualified anger. You can forward a lot of theories on why young men and women embraced punk in the 1970s (Watergate? Stagflation? A backlash against Simon and Garfunkel?), but you cannot deny the anti-establishment philosophy that is central to its power and appeal.
Sarmad Masud’s film very quickly becomes Nazo Dharejo’s and Suhaee Abro’s film. This is an all-female film, even though the majority of characters are male, the society in which it all takes place is very much male and the hardness is in stark contrast with the softness and beauty of the women we get to know. This is feminism at its best and strongest, badass women, succeeding in humiliating their male oppressors while in dresses and perfect make-up. And fighting for their honour with much fewer weapons and much more dignity than their opponents. Just three women, while countless jeeps keep arriving packed with armed men, is not exactly what we’d call a fair game – but then again nothing is fair in these women’s lives and they seem used to it by now. They still prefer to die with their heads up high, than to ever bow down to any of these people.
The documentary is split into two parts – the first in a Serbian mine and the second in an illegal Surinamese gold mine. An all male film, Good Luck studies its brave subjects as they work, interact, reflect on their job and life and just joke around and unwind. These are men that have forgotten the dreams they once had; men who have been working in the depths of the earth or the jungle for decades; men who feel uncomfortable telling their story even though it’s remarkable; men who would hate to see their sons one day do what they do. Indeed, if there is one thing that all these very different, lands apart men can agree on, is that their children will go to school, get an education and do something better, perhaps in an office, maybe even using pens.
One can see Östlund takes great pleasure filling his films with what he calls “horrifying awkward moments.” Encounters are all too frequently so embarrassing they are painful and funny to watch. Protagonists are uncomfortably faced with more than one possibility how to act that there are only inappropriate ways of doing things. In the film’s absurd universe, Christian all too frequently finds himself to be the victim of every situation he is faced with: his colleague, who comes up with the idea of sending letters forces Christian to enter the apartment block to do his own dirty work.
I was expecting an ode to Cate Blanchett’s surreal acting abilities — which of course I got — but the Blanchett goldmine was really only the icing on Manifesto‘s cake. It didn’t seem to need anybody’s help in order to explode with beauty and power and significance, as Rosenfeldt seems to possess just as otherworldly capabilities as his lead actress herself. This is one hell of a collaboration — not only of talents, but also of images, words and music. The three are so magnificently intertwined that the right Manifesto viewer keeps getting chills down his spine throughout the 2-hour viewing.
Il Principe di Ostia Bronx is in a nutshell all that a documentary should be. Very much like Herzog and Morris, Raffaele Passerini has delivered what might well be described as the perfect documentary film. One that is so absurd and humane, so warm and absolute bonkers, that most successfully evokes real life itself. This film is honest in how crazy it is …
Drowning by Numbers is a dark and exciting mix of Wes Anderson for its colours and its quirks, French “Nouvelle Vague” for its irony and absurdity and Ealing Studios for its black humour and satirical edge. The film is filled with a sense of casualness in dealing with matters like murder and suicide and never do the lives of the protagonists’ victims matter more than a sarcastic remark or a very English “Oh my”. Greenaway injects the film with trivial moments that shock and delight in between acts of shocking cruelty. There are scenes that involve a conversation about marriage on top of a pile of dead cows in the middle of the road…
Both in need of a good night’s sleep, both constantly drunk and verging on insane, but who is more of an antagonist? They are both essentially their own worst enemies, but who is more unhinged? It’s a difficult question that needs exploring, even though we’d all rush into picking Tony Montana. But such a reflex reaction would be hasty, for Montana’s fury may indeed make him an easier target, not to mention his greed and desperate need to lead which function as a bit of a soft spot, but Camonte, also, has his fair share of loose screws, and his killing style can attest to this.
While it started with what seemed like a very clear direction ahead of it, the film took a few unusual turns which culminated in a series of unusual outcomes. This is mainly visible in Tina’s peculiar transformation, as her shyness and emotional vulnerability leads to a ruthlessness that can’t even be traced in the most cold-blooded killers. Chris, who is presented as a psychopathic superhero, and whose murders are calculated and target-specific (predominantly the British upper classes) is forced to watch as his unorthodox methods influence his lover to an increasingly problematic extent.