Tag Archives: film festivals

My Virtual Berlinale – 2015

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Two dozen from the 65th Berlin International Film Festival (with a focus on Forum and NATIVe).

Many excellent films screening at Berlinale aren’t included here, but these 24 stand out from my idiosyncratic perspective, looking for under-reported movies. With luck, many will receive theatrical release in New York.

UPDATE: Award winners included Balikbayan #1, Il gesto delle mani, and Thamaniat wa ushrun laylan wa bayt min al-sheir. The Hollywood trades reviewed Eco de la Montaña, Hotline, Koza, La maldad, Las Niñas Quispe, Rabo de Peixe, La sirène de Faso Fani, Violencia, and Yvy Maraey (either from Berlinale or previous festivals).

201511069_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Balikbayan #1 (Memories of Overdevelopment Redux)*
By Kidlat Tahimik, The Philippines
(Forum – World Premiere)
“Language is the key to the empire. Enrique is the slave of Ferdinand Magellan, who circumnavigated the globe. Aside from bathing Magellan every evening, Enrique also has to translate Filipino languages into Portuguese and Spanish. The film opens with a cardboard box containing film rolls being dug up from the ground”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

*Balikbayan #1 won the Caligari Film Prize.

201510896_3_IMG_FIX_700x700Bankilal (Eldest Brother)
By María Dolores Arias Martínez, Mexico 2014
(NATIVe)
“In his role as Bankilal (the older brother), Manuel Jiménez strives to reconcile the contrasting beliefs that surround him through vivid prayer and public involvement in the day-to-day activities of the community. This quiet observation illustrates the situation as contemporary lifestyle versus cultural permanence and shows how elders have adapted to syncretic forms of worship since the introduction of Catholicism”… [more at berlinale.de]

fc09mainDari Marusan
By Izumi Takahashi, Japan
(Forum – International Premiere)
“Dari works for an agency that tracks down missing pets, and is given the assignment of finding the parrot that Yoshikawa lost two years previously. She will have to figure out what her client has really lost and find her own dignity in the process”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

201507925_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Le dos rouge (Portrait of the Artist)
By Antoine Barraud, France
(Forum – International Premiere)
“In Le dos rouge, a famous filmmaker played by Bertrand Bonello searches for an image of the uncanny. An eccentric female art historian accompanies him through museums, where they examine and discuss numerous works of art. A metamorphosis gradually takes place, as red marks appear on the filmmaker’s back”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

MV5BMTgyNjUxMDI2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQ5MTUzMTE@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_Eco de la Montaña (Echo of the Mountain)
By Nicolás Echevarría, Mexico 2014
(NATIVe)
“Artist Santos Motoapohua de la Torre lives as isolated and forgotten as his Huichol village in Jalisco. His colourful work has catapulted him into the Western art scene, yet Santos does not let this world encroach on his people’s heritage”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [Variety review (Abu Dhabi)] [THR review (Cinema du Reel)] [film website]

Exotica, Erotica, Etc.
By Evangelia Kranioti, 201506545_1_IMG_FIX_700x700France
(Forum – World Premiere)
“Alone among men on board gigantic freighters, the director travelled to 16 countries and lived with prostitutes in various harbour towns. From these experiences she has created a film whose impressive images and haunting soundtrack merge into a maritime symphony, a narrative of freedom, longing, love, and desire”… [more at berlinale.de]

Flotel_885796yFlotel Europa
By Vladimir Tomic, Denmark / Serbia
(Forum – World Premiere)
“When this film’s director was still a boy, he stood in front of “Flotel Europa“ and was hugely excited about the prospect of this gigantic ship moored in the port of Copenhagen becoming a new home for him, his mother and his older brother. Together with about 1000 other refugees from the former Yugoslavia, they started life anew on the ship.” [more at berlinale.de]

201505705_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Freie Zeiten (After Work)
By Janina Herhoffer, Germany
(Forum – World Premiere)
A girl band makes music. Women at a slimming course talk about successfully losing weight by controlling what they eat. Teenagers dance or go shopping. A role-play on conflicts at work is performed at a meeting of a men’s group. Other people do yoga, meditate to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, limber up by babbling gibberish or run laps in a gymnasium”… [more at berlinale.de]

il_gesto_delle_mani_hand_gestures_locandina_berlinale2015Il gesto delle mani (Hand Gestures)*
By Francesco Clerici, Italy
(Forum – World Premiere)
“A bronze foundry in Milan. Hands that shape, knead, model, mix, repair, sand and polish. Work carried out on matter and fire, out of which the bronze figure of a dog by artist Velasco Vitali will ultimately emerge. The Fonderia Artistica Battaglia was founded in 1913 and is one of the oldest and most important artistic foundries in Italy. It produces bronze sculptures using lost-wax casting, a founding technique that dates back to the 4th century BC and is still done in much the same way today”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

*Il gesto delle mani won a Fipresci Jury Award and the Tagesspiegel Readers’ Jury Award.

10513606_detHamaca Paraguaya (Paraguayan Hammock)*
By Paz Encina, Argentina / France / Netherlands / Paraguay / Spain 2006
(NATIVe)
“Set in a remote Paraguayan village in the 1930s, Ramón and Cándida are an ageing couple of Guaraní peasants who are waiting for better times to come. They go about their daily chores, meeting at regular intervals at a clearing to sit in a hammock and talk about seemingly trivial things: the nuisance of a dog’s barking, the overwhelming heat, the rain which teases but doesn’t come”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

*Hamaca Paraguaya was released theatrically in New York in 2008.

hotline-poster-717x1024Hotline
By Silvina Landsmann, Israel / France
(Forum – World Premiere)
“The women from the Tel Aviv hotline for refugees and migrants work around the clock. They look after the rights of people without papers, give legal advice, go to government offices on their behalf and do public relations for their cause”… [more at berlinale.de] [THR review]

MV5BMjY2OTU5MTY2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzEzMDIyNDE@._V1_SY215_CR3,0,146,215_Koza
By Ivan Ostrochovský, Slovakia / Czech Republic
(Forum – World Premiere)
“They call him Koza, the goat. His best days as a boxer are behind him. Sometimes he re-watches the video of his fight at the 1996 Olympics. Now he needs money because his girlfriend is pregnant. That’s why he decides to return to the ring”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [THR review]

201510668_2_IMG_FIX_700x700Lo que lleva el río (Gone with the River)
By Mario Crespo, Venezuela, 2014
(NATIVe – World premiere)
“For Dauna, life on the Orinoco delta cultivated a strong curiosity for what lay beyond the river. Her natural talent for language and learning was always nurtured by her family and Father Julio. Tarcisio, her childhood sweetheart, also patiently supports her, but doesn’t know how to deal with social pressure in the Warao community. Dauna is sure of her love for Tarcisio but fears he will succumb to what tradition dictates, thwarting her ambition for academic development. The ever-present sepia river symbolises the divergence and convergence experienced throughout the story”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

201511054_1_IMG_543x305Madare ghalb atomi (Atom Heart Mother)
By Ali Ahmadzadeh, Iran
(Forum – World Premiere)
On their way back from a wild party, Arineh and Nobahar cause a car accident. A mysterious stranger by the name of Toofan offers to cover the costs. This won’t be the last time they’ll cross his path over the course of the night”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

7266749_300x300La maldad (Evilness)
By Joshua Gil, Mexico
(Forum – World Premiere)
“An old man in the country wants to make a film, the story of a whole life told across twelve songs, of a love lost and a family torn asunder, all guided by the logic of dreams. But even if the script is the best in the world, this film won’t be easy to make, as actors aren’t cheap and Mexico City holds the purse strings”… [more at berlinale.de] [THR review]

quispe girlsLas Niñas Quispe (The Quispe Girls)
By Sebastián Sepúlveda, Chile / France / Argentina 2013
(NATIVe)
“Secluded in the arid mountains of the Atacama Plateau, sisters Justa, Lucía, and Luciana are committed to their work as goat herders, but are also plagued by the isolation they suffer being the last of their kind. They repress their feelings and femininity in order to survive. The news that Pinochet has given an official order to prohibit herding in their region becomes the turning point in their quiet struggle to preserve their way of living. The imminent threat of the authorities coming to alter their whole existence is unbearable for the sisters, and all options seem bleak”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [Variety review (Venice)] [THR review (Venice)]

201506034_1La nuit et l’enfant (The Night and the Kid)
By David Yon, France, Qatar
(Forum – World Premiere)
“A child throws stones at the moon. They say the sun has gone and will only return when anxiety has disappeared. Until then, the stars are there to offer comfort. So the child counts the stars in the night’s endless expanse on the slopes of the Algerian Atlas mountains. Aness, the child, is the companion of Lamine, a young man on the run. Both are being pursued by nameless people carrying arms. Who are these criminals? Why must the two of them hide and sleep at night with weapons in their hands? Is the child merely a figment of Lamine’s imagination? A desire made flesh?”… [more at berlinale.de]

201510401_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Rabo de Peixe (Fish Tail)
By Joaquim Pinto, Nuno Leonel, Portugal
(Forum – World Premiere)
“Rabo de Peixe is a village in the Azores that is home to the largest collection of artisanal fisheries on the whole archipelago. Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel first came here at the end of 1998 to see in the New Year. After befriending a young fisherman named Pedro, they decided to make a film with him over the following year, a TV documentary later tampered with by the broadcaster and shown only once. They have now edited the same material into something new, a tender essay rooted in friendship and fascination”… [more at berlinale.de]  [THR review]

SipOhi-El-lugar-del-ManduréSip’ohi – El lugar del Manduré (Sip’ohi – Manduré Place)
By Sebastián Lingiardi, Argentina 2011
(NATIVe)
“Gustavo Salvatierra returns home to Sip’ohi, in the impenetrable Chaco forest region in north-western Argentina, to capture Wichí culture and spirit through their ingrained tradition of storytelling. With great respect and from a certain distance, he approaches the bearers of local tradition – and listens. These tales and legends have an expressive strength that triggers the imagination far beyond the filmic imagery”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb]

ZONGO_Michel_2015_Faso_fani_00_ban_BerlinaleLa sirène de Faso Fani (The Siren of Faso Fani)
By Michel K. Zongo, Burkina Faso / France / Germany / Qatar
(Forum – World Premiere)
“After it was shut down in 2001, the Faso Fani textile factory in Koudougou, Burkina Faso’s third-largest city, was left to rot. It probably figures in the World Bank and IMF archives as one more piece of collateral damage, yet another write-off in a West African sideshow. Michel Zongo, who grew up in Koudougou, reopens the case of this legendary factory. He visits relatives and former employees, including his uncle, who once owned a much admired modern cult object thanks to Faso Fani: one of the first refrigerators in town. Zongo digs through radio and TV archives and pieces together the factory’s proud history, which produced so much more than just textiles”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [THR review]

Thamaniat wa ushrun laylan wa bayt min al-sheir (Twenty-Eight Nights and A Poem)*
By Akram Zaatari, Lebanon / France
(Forum – World Premiere)
“The song ‘Fil bahr’ (At Sea) extols the moon in twenty-eight different ways before finally making its point about the fleeting nature of love at the end. Different variations on one and the same thing, each an original: 28 Nights and a Poem is an interpretation of the archive of the Sheherazade photo studio. Photographer Hashem el Madani opened the studio in 1953 in the Lebanese city of Saïda after spending years photographing people in front of their shops, in public squares or at the beach to satisfy their wish to appear before the camera”[more at berlinale.de]

*Thamaniat wa ushrun laylan wa bayt min al-sheir won a Special Mention for the Think:Film Award.

poster01_en_bigÜber die Jahre (Over the Years)
By Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria
(Forum – World Premiere)
“When we see nappies being packed in cellophane by hand, we already suspect it will all soon be over. Taking the demise of a textile factory in Austria’s Waldviertel region as its starting point, with the antiquated manufacturing plant initially shown in full operation, this film poses the question of what work means for people’s self-image and character. After the factory goes bankrupt and closes, the filmmaker accompanies some of its employees as they continue to make their way, questioning them about their daily routines, the circumstances in which they live, about looking for work or the new jobs they find”… [more at berlinale.de]

201506680_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Violencia (Violence)
By Jorge Forero, Colombia / Mexico
(Forum – World Premiere)
“Cicadas and birdsong, a black screen, the jungle floor coming into view at the start of day. A leisurely tracking shot: roots, moss, a metal chain, a sleeping man shackled, hands clasped together, feet caked in mud. A silent captive whose captors’ faces remain unseen, a daily routine in the forest as helicopters rumble above. Pleasurable moans in a dark bedroom, a white curtain with black flowers that keeps out the morning light. A teenager making his way through the city, CV in hand, the camera his constant companion: bustling streets, bright colours, huge intersections, a skate park. But he only finds a job in the countryside”... [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [THR review]

MV5BMTQ4NzE3ODY2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDQyNTY1OQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_Yvy Maraey (Land without Evil)*
By Juan Carlos Valdivia, Bolivia / Mexico / Norway 2013
(NATIVe)
“Andrés, a ‘karai’ or white man, has lost touch with his inner self and is going through a creative and spiritual crisis. He becomes obsessed with the existence of an uncorrupted and secluded Guaraní population, which might hold the answer he needs. Andrés hires Yari to guide him on a road trip deep into Guaraní lands in modern-day Bolivia, where the white man is the minority. Their journey is one of self-discovery and intercultural understanding.”… [more at berlinale.de] [IMDb] [THR review (VLAFF)]

*Yvy Maraey screened once at the King Juan Carlos I Center, New York University, on 3 May 2014.

ND/NF – Fish & Cat (Mahi Va Gorbeh)

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New Directors/New Films
Fish & Cat/Mahi va gorbeh
Director: Shahram Mokri

Cast: Babak Karimi, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Siavash Cheraghipoor, Mohammad Berahmani, Faraz Modiri, Abed Abest, Amanaz Safari, Pedram Sharifi, Neda Jebraeeli, Milad Rahimi, Parinaz Tayyed, Alireza Esapoor, Ainaz Azarhoush, Samaane Vafaiezadeh, Mohammad Reza Maleki, Nazanin Babaei, Mona Ahmadi, Pouya Shahrabi, Nima Shahrabi, Shadi Karamroudi, Khosrow Shahrad

134 minutes
Iran
2013
Format: DCP
Language: Persian with English subtitles

Mar 27, 6:00PM
MoMA

“A bold experiment in perpetual motion with an enigmatic time-warp narrative, Fish & Cat plays out as one continuous shot, with the camera moving among a host of characters at a remote forest and a nearby lake. Gradually subverting a gruesome premise drawn from a real-life case of a backwoods restaurant that served human flesh, the film builds an atmosphere of tension as a menacing pair descend on a campsite where a group of college kids have gathered for a kite-flying festival. But as the camera doubles back and crisscrosses between characters in real time, subtle space-time paradoxes suggest that something bigger is going on. Brilliantly sustained, Fish & Cat is further evidence of a new generation of filmmakers emerging in Iran.” -New Directors/New Films

Winner of the 2013 Venice Horizons Award Special Prize, Shahram Mokri’s second feature Fish & Cat (Mahi va gorbeh) is a tour de force thriller realized in a single tracking shot in collaboration with veteran cinematographer Mahmud Kalari (A Separation, The Past).

College students from a Tehran university converge on the shore of a remote lake near the Iran-Iraq border (“a place of spirits and sprites”) for an annual kite-flying festival, innocent of the plans of a trio of locals to slaughter one of them to provide human meat for a derelict restaurant.

“The story I’m about to tell you seems like a fable, but it’s true” -script, Fish & Cat

Though the DPC version screened at MoMA was not the best, the film left a deep impression by means of expert writing, direction, cinematography, sound design, and music, and a closely choreographed mise-en-scène realized by a large ensemble cast, with several standout performances.

In a script that could have been a collaboration between Samuel Beckett and George Romero, Shahram Mokri employs an encyclopedic knowledge of horror-film tropes to fashion a profoundly moving essay on the futility of resistance against fate in the prison-house of time. Even an angel messenger (“He does things that are like miracles”) is an impotent observer while on the shore of this lake and adjoining forest where the dead and the living, ghosts and spirits, meet and meet again. We are often left wondering, “How did they do that?”

“The pic manages to be both narrative and nonlinear as the camera’s complex choreography creates fissures in time, piling on stories within stories that trap viewers in an increasingly ominous, often repetitive nightmare.” -Variety

Some reviewers have complained about the 2-hour-plus running time. On the contrary, I say Fish & Cat would ideally be screened on a continuous loop running at least twice, from a winter afternoon to dusk.

The film also benefits from the work of Christophe Rezai (music) among others.

Despite the best efforts of ND/NF organizers, none of the artists gained admittance to Fortress USA to meet their audience. When will we admit we were wrong to plot the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh’s government during the Truman/Eisenhower administrations, and move forward toward rational relations with Iran?

ND/NF – The Japanese Dog / Câinele Japonez

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New Directors/New Films
The Japanese Dog/Câinele Japonez
Director: Tudor Cristian Jurgiu

Director of Photography: Andrei Butica

Cast: Victor Rebengiuc, Serban Pavlu, Ioana Abur, Alexandrina Halic, Constantin Draganescu, Kana Hashimoto, Doru Ana, Titi Radoaie

86 minutes
Romania
2013
Format: DCP
Language: Romanian with English subtitles

Mar 23, 1:00PM
MoMA Titus 1

“Exquisitely attuned to the rhythms of nature and rural life—and the melancholy beauty of transient things—The Japanese Dog comes by its emotions honestly and poignantly.” – New Directors/New Films

“Tudor Cristian Jurgiu makes a quietly impressive debut with this deceptively simple tale of a father and son.” -Jay Weissberg, Variety

Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s deeply insightful debut feature augurs a long and rich career. Twenty-seven years old at the time of filming, Jurgiu helmed a formidable cast and crew, led by the octogenarian actor and anti-Ceauşescu revolutionary Victor Rebengiuc and veteran cinematographer Andrei Butica (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Child’s Pose). A marvel of intergenerational artistic collaboration resulted, and a film that could mark a turning point in the history of Romanian cinema.

The Japanese Dog opens with long shot of villagers rescuing their possessions from a flooded field and then transitions to Rebengiuc’s character, Costache – a sober, industrious, private man who lost his wife and his home in the flood – as he goes about the mundane tasks of rescuing objects from ruin. Resettled in a large house, Costache seems to be the only man in the village who locks his doors.

Costache’s widower’s solitude is suddenly disrupted by the news that his long-absent son Ticu, who has built a new life in Japan as a construction engineer, has learned of his mother’s death and plans to visit his father, bringing his Japanese wife Hiroko and their son Koji with him.

The film chronicles the emergence of a new family as it relates Ticu’s homecoming with luminous attention to details of the sights and sounds of this particular space, on a primitive level of the emotions and relationships of these particular people. Audiences experience the fruits of Jurgiu’s collaborative genius as the story fully becomes one with the landscape and then expands beyond.

I am hoping for a U.S. theatrical release.

Film website: www.cainelejaponez.ro

ND/NF – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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New Directors/New Films
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cinematography: Lyle Vincent
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali, Reza Sixo Safai, Ray Haratian, Pej Vahdat

107 minutes
USA
2014
DCP
Persian with English subtitles

MoMa Titus 2
Mar 19, 8:00PM

Ana Lily Amirpour delivers a knockout of a story in this cunning mashup of genres and genders, with knowing echos of styles and tropes from the past half-century of film.

Notwithstanding some minor artifacts in the DCP version presented at MoMA (which should be fixable), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a marvel of state-of-art black and white digital photography. In contrast to the desaturated tones of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, these crystalline images evoke the aesthetic of gelatin silver process and at pivotal moments approach the sculptural clarity of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Hasselblad portraits.

I recommend Guy Lodge’s Variety review from Sundance for a fuller assessment of this extraordinary movie.

Stuff you can learn from the credits: Elijah Wood is one of the executive producers. And some good tips for your playlist!

Update: US Distributor – Kino Lorber (2014)

My New Directors/New Films Wish List

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girlwalkshome1
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Okay, so I missed this year’s Berlinale Forum, the first time in six years (not my fault!). But I am so ready for New Directors/New Films, the brillant 12-day fest curated by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Here is my aspirational screening list:

19 March
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
USA
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Language: Persian with English subtitles

20 March
We Come as Friends
France/Austria
Director: Hubert Sauper
Language: English, Chinese, Arabic, Ma’di, and Toposa with English subtitles

21 March
Stop the Pounding Heart
Belgium/Italy/USA
Director: Roberto Minervini
Language: English

History of Fear
Argentina/Uruguay/France/Germany/Qatar
Director: Benjamín Naishtat
Language: Spanish with English subtitles

22 March
The Babadook
Australia
Director: Jennifer Kent
Language: English

23 March
The Japanese Dog
Romania
Director: Tudor Cristian Jurgiu
Language: Romanian with English subtitles

Dear White People
USA
Director: Justin Simien
Language: English

24 March
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga
USA/Russia/Ukraine/Poland
Director: Jessica Oreck
Language: English

Buzzard
USA
Director: Joel Potrykus
Language: English

25 March
Return to Homs
Syria/Germany
Director: Talal Derki
Language: Arabic with English subtitles

The Strange Little Cat
Germany
Director: Ramon Zürcher
Language: German with English subtitles

26 March
Story of My Death
Spain/France
Director: Albert Serra
Language: Catalan with English subtitles

27 March
Fish & Cat
Iran
Director: Shahram Mokri
Language: Persian with English subtitles

28 March
Trap Street
China
Director: Vivian Qu
Language: Mandarin with English subtitles

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Belgium/France/Luxembourg
Director: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani
Language: French with English subtitles

29 March
ND/NF 2014 Shorts Program 2
Landscape (Paisaje)
Matias Umpierrez | Argentina | 2013 | DCP | 13m
The Wild (Wildnis)
Helena Wittmann | Germany | 2013 | DCP | 12m
Greenland Unrealised
Dania Reymond | France/Taiwan | 2012 | HDCam | 9m
Pieces (Anacos)
Xacio Baño | Spain | 2012 | DCP | 7m
Three, Two
Sarah-Violet Bliss | USA | 2013 | HDCam | 2m
The Reaper (La Parka)
Gabriel Serra | Mexico | 2013 | DCP | 29m

She’s Lost Control
USA
Director: Anja Marquardt
Language: English

30 March
Salvo
Italy/France
Director: Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza
Language: Italian with English subtitles

20,000 Days on Earth
UK
Director: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Language: English

My Virtual Berlinale – Forum & Panorama

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20144193_1_IMG_543x305
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely

The Forum and Panorama sections of this year’s Berlin Film Festival offer what promises to be a strong showing of films by emerging filmmakers and new directions from established helmers.

Highlights of the 44th edition of the Berlinale Forum include Josephine Decker’s directorial debut Butter on the Latch and her second feature Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, Los Ángeles by Damian John Harper, and Athanasios Karanikolas’ feature Sto spiti (At Home). While encompassing features and documentaries from every continent, this year’s Panorama has a particularly robust list from Asia, including YE (The Night), a debut from 21-year-old Zhou Hao of the People’s Republic of China, and Nước (2030), a sci-fi vision of rising sea waters by Nghiêm-Minh Nguyễn-Võ.

I won’t be attending the Festival this year, alas. But I will be following with interest from New York. If I were going to be at Berlinale, here are the screenings I would try to pack in:

Thursday 6 February

11:30 Forum, Press Screening
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely
USA 2014, 76 min
English
DIRECTOR
Josephine Decker
CAST
Joe Swanberg
Sophie Traub
Robert Longstreet
Kristin Slaysman
Matt Orme

21:00 Panorama, CinemaxX 7
Nuoc (2030)
Vietnam 2013, 98 min
Vietnamese
DIRECTOR
Nguyen-Vo Nghiem-Minh
CAST
Quýnh Hoa
Quý Bính

Friday 7 February

16:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Ché phawa daw nu nu (Tender Are the Feet)
Burma 1972, 106 min
Burmese
DIRECTOR
Maung Wunna
CAST
Zaw Win
San San Aye

20:00 Panorama, CinemaxX 7
Güeros
Mexico 2014, 106 min
Spanish
DIRECTOR
Alonso Ruizpalacios
CAST
Tenoch Huerta
Sebastián Aguirre
Leonardo Ortizgris

Saturday 8 February

12:00 Panorama Dokumente, CineStar 7
Last Hijack
Netherlands / Germany / Ireland / Belgium 2014, 83 min
Somali, English
DIRECTORS
Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting

14:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Schamanen im Blinden Land (Shamans of the Blind Country)
Nepal / Germany / USA 1980, 223 min
Kham, English
DIRECTOR
Michael Oppitz

19:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Töchter (Daughters)
Germany 2014, 92 min
German
DIRECTOR
Maria Speth
CAST
Corinna Kirchhoff
Kathleen Morgeneyer
Hermann Beyer
Lars Mikkelsen

22:30 Panorama, CineStar 7
YE (The Night)
People’s Republic of China 2014, 95 min
Mandarin
DIRECTOR
Zhou Hao
CAST
Zhou Hao
Liu Xiao Xiao
Li Jin Kang
Zhou Feng Qi

Sunday 9 February

12:30 Panorama Special, CinemaxX 7
Mo Jing (That Demon Within)
Hong Kong / China 2014, 112 min
Cantonese
DIRECTOR
Dante Lam
CAST
Daniel Wu
Nick Cheung

16:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey
United Kingdom 1945/2014, 70 min
English

19:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
She’s Lost Control
USA 2014, 90 min
English
DIRECTOR
Anja Marquardt
CAST
Brooke Bloom
Marc Menchaca

22:00 Forum, CinemaxX 4
Ship bun (10 Minutes)
Republic of Korea (South Korea) 2013, 93 min
Korean
DIRECTOR
Lee Yong-seung
CAST
Baek Jong-hwan
Kim Jong-gu
Jung Hi-te

Monday 10 February

11:00 Forum, CineStar 8
Que ta joie demeure (Joy of Man’s Desiring)
Canada 2014, 70 min
French
DIRECTOR
Denis Côté
CAST
Guillaume Tremblay
Emilie Sigouin
Hamidou Savadogo
Ted Pluviose
Cassandre Emmanuel

14:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
N – The Madness of Reason
Belgium / Germany / Netherlands 2014, 102 min
French, Bambara, Dioulá, Sénoufo, Sonhoy, Agni
DIRECTOR
Peter Krüger
CAST
Michael Lonsdale
Wendyam Sawadogo

16:45 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Lajwanti (The Honour Keeper)
India 2014, 63 min
Hindi
DIRECTOR
Pushpendra Singh
CAST
Sanghamitra Hitaishi
Pushpendra Singh
Sugna Devi

19:30 Forum, CinemaxX 4
To Singapore, with Love
Singapore 2013, 70 min
English, Mandarin, Malayan
DIRECTOR
Tan Pin Pin

21:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Nagima
Kazakhstan 2013, 80 min
Russian
DIRECTOR
Zhanna Issabayeva
CAST
Dina Tukubayeva
Galina Pyanova
Marya Nezhentseva

Tuesday 11 February

14:00 NATIVe Event, Botschaft von Kanada – Canada Room
Financing, Production and Distribution – Collaborative Visions on Indigenous Cinema

16:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
USA 2014, 105 min
English, Japanese
DIRECTOR
David Zellner
CAST
Rinko Kikuchi
Nathan Zellner
David Zellner

19:30 Forum, Zoo Palast 2
The Guests
USA 2013, 73 min
Without dialogue
DIRECTOR
Ken Jacobs

21:45 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Top Girl oder la déformation professionnelle (Top Girl or la déformation professionnelle)
Germany 2014, 94 min
German, English
DIRECTOR
Tatjana Turanskyj
CAST
Julia Hummer
Susanne Bredehöft
RP Kahl
Thorsten Heidel

Wednesday 12 February

14:00 Forum & NATIVe, Delphi Filmpalast
The Darkside
Australia 2013, 94 min
English
DIRECTOR
Warwick Thornton
CAST
Lynette Narkle
Merwez Whaleboat
Sacha Horler
Jack Charles
Claudia Karvan

17:00 Panorama Dokumente, International
Concerning Violence
Sweden / USA / Denmark 2014, 85 min
English, Swedish, Portuguese, French
DIRECTOR
Göran Hugo Olsson
CAST
Lauryn Hill

19:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Padurea e ca muntele, vezi? (The Forest is Like the Mountains)
Romania / Germany 2014, 101 min
Romanian
DIRECTORS
Christiane Schmidt, Didier Guillain

21:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Zamatoví teroristi (Velvet Terrorists)
Slovak Republic / Czech Republic / Croatia 2013, 87 min
Slovakian, Czech
DIRECTORS
Peter Kerekes, Pavol Pekarcík, Ivan Ostrochovský

Thursday 13 February

14:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Casse (Scrap Yard)
France 2013, 90 min
French
DIRECTOR
Nadège Trebal

16:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Und in der Mitte, da sind wir (And There We Are, in the Middle)
Austria 2014, 91 min
German
DIRECTOR
Sebastian Brameshuber

18:45 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Iranien (Iranian)
France / Switzerland 2014, 105 min
Farsi
DIRECTOR
Mehran Tamadon

22:00 Forum, CineStar 8
Gui ri zi (Shadow Days)
People’s Republic of China 2014, 95 min
Mandarin
DIRECTOR
Zhao Dayong
CAST
Liang Ming
Li Ziqian
Liu Yu

Friday 14 February

11:00 Forum, CineStar 8
Non-fiction Diary
Republic of Korea (South Korea) 2013, 93 min
Korean
DIRECTOR
Jung Yoon-suk

16:00 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Forma
Japan 2013, 145 min
Japanese
DIRECTOR
Ayumi Sakamoto
CAST
Emiko Matsuoka
Nagisa Umeno
Seiji Nozoe
Ken Mitsuishi

20:15 Panorama, Cubix 8
Patardzlebi (Brides)
Georgia / France 2014, 94 min
Georgian
DIRECTOR
Tinatin Kajrishvili
CAST
Mari Kitia
Giorgi Maskharshvili

22:00 Forum, CineStar 8
Los Ángeles
Mexico / Germany 2014, 97 min
Zapotec, Spanish
DIRECTOR
Damian John Harper
CAST
Mateo Bautista Matías
Lidia García García
Marcos Rodríguez Ruiz
Daniel Bautista Gutiérrez

Saturday 15 February

12:30 Forum, Kino Arsenal 1
Huba (Parasite)
Poland / United Kingdom 2014, 66 min
Polish
DIRECTORS
Wilhelm Sasnal, Anka Sasnal
CAST
Joanna Drozda
Jerzy Gajlikowski
Wojtek Slowik

14:30 Panorama, CineStar 7
Bing Du (Ice Poison)
Taiwan / Myanmar 2014, 95 min
Mandarin, Burmese
DIRECTOR
Midi Z
CAST
Wang Shin-Hong
Wu Ke-Xi

16:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Prabhat pheri (Journey with Prabhat)
India 2014, 89 min
Hindi, English, Marathi
DIRECTORS
Jessica Sadana, Samarth Dixit

20:15 Panorama, Cubix 7
Asabani Nistam! (I’m not Angry!)
Iran 2014, 110 min
Farsi
DIRECTOR
Reza Dormishian
CAST
Baran Kosari
Navid Mohammadzadeh
Reza Behboudi
Misagh Zare
Bahram Afshari

22:30 Panorama Special, Colosseum 1
Kuzu (The Lamb)
Turkey / Germany 2014, 87 min
Turkish
DIRECTOR
Kutlug Ataman
CAST
Nesrin Cavadzade
Cahit Gök
Mert Tastan
Sila Lara Cantürk
Nursel Köse

Sunday 16 February

12:30 NATIVe, Zoo Palast 2
BirdWatchers – La terra degli uomini rossi (Birdwatchers – Das Land der roten Menschen)
Brazil / Italy 2008, 108 min
Guarani, Portuguese, English
DIRECTOR
Marco Bechis
CAST
Abrísio da Silva Pedro
Alicélia Batista Cabreira
Ambrósio Vilhalva

18:45 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Sto spiti (At Home)
Greece / Germany 2014, 103 min
Greek, Georgian
DIRECTOR
Athanasios Karanikolas
CAST
Maria Kallimani
Marisha Triantafyllidou
Alexandros Logothetis
Zoi Asimaki
Giannis Tsortekis

21:30 Forum, Delphi Filmpalast
Free Range – Ballaad maailma heakskiitmisest (Free Range)
Estonia 2013, 104 min
Estonian
DIRECTOR
Veiko Ounpuu
CAST
Lauri Lagle
Jaanika Arum
Laura Peterson
Peeter Volkonski
Roman Baskin

IN PRODUCTION: Songs from The Building

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At the highly acclaimed New York premier of The Legend of Apsara Mera (BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 2-4 May 2013), Hun Sarath sat in the back row of singers, beside the orchestra, at extreme stage right, invisible to perhaps a third of the audience.

Sarath’s presence on the stage may have been inconspicuous, but her story has the makings of its own kind of legend:

“Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, Hun Sarath, the last surviving singer of the Royal Palace, has lived in what is known as ‘The Building’. Now her home is slated for demolition. For many in Phnom Penh the Building is a slum. Erasing this eyesore liberates some of the most valuable land in the city. In the face of impending destruction of the Building, Sarath gathers the old masters to stage a Royal performance for her community and to remind the city of the value of Cambodian culture and history.”*

Director Koam Chanrasmey and producer Martin Potter, with a small team of Cambodian and international filmmakers, are now in early stages of production of SONGS FROM THE BUILDING – a film about “community and creativity in the face of urban development,” estimated for completion this winter.

The production has already won a PUMA Catalyst Award, and the team is “seeking financial and network support including: production and completion funding, broadcast and festival interest and interest from distributors focussed on Asian documentary content, or with an interest in land rights or Cambodian arts and culture.”

A natural fit for venues such as Berlinale Forum, New Directors/New Films and others devoted to original stories from emerging filmmakers.

*Information about Songs from The Building from PUMA Awards film directory. Also see “A Light on the Dark Side,” Martin Potter’s enlightening backstory on the project in the February 2013 issue of Asian Currents: The ASAA E-Bulletin.

Hun Sarath Sings “Phnom Penh Lullaby”

2013 Tribeca Film Festival – JÎN

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JÎN
2013 | 122 minutes
Directed by: Reha Erdem
Languages: Kurdish, Turkish
Country: Turkey
North American Premiere
Cast:
Deniz Hasgüler, Onur Ünsal, Sabahattin Yakut, Yıldırım Şimşek, Sema Kuray
Film website: http://www.jin-film.com.tr/index-en.html

My favorite film of this year’s Tribeca.

Writer/director Reha Erdem delivers a free-cinema fable and an elemental meditation on nature as observer of humanity and our self-destructive aberrations, tracing a teenage girl’s return from the mountains to “civilization” as she attempts to regain a normal life after years of guerrilla combat:

“It strikes me … that for millions of years the most honorable witnesses have been animals. Although they themselves are direct victims of the exterminations, they are witness to the savagery and pain through their stares, their bearing, and their wounds. Doesn’t the most hopeful way of avoiding the next extermination start by finding witnesses to the previous one?”

 

First-time actor Deniz Hasgüler equips herself as a great talent in the title role. Jîn, whose name means “woman” in Kurdish, leaves her fighter comrades one day just as the sun is setting. The beauty and danger of a rugged landscape is matched by this sturdy girl who is determined to live, attempting the difficult transition from soldier to civilian. A series of encounters with human predators leaves her increasingly solitary and vulnerable, as she finds her greatest source of strength and consolation in the wild beasts of her adopted mountains: a noble stag, a protective falcon, a panicked bear, a wounded donkey, a hungry lynx. In a final, wrenchingly piteous tableaux, it is these comrades alone who honor Jîn’s battered frame and spirit.

Florent Herry’s astonishing camerawork is deftly complemented by Hildur Gudnadottir’s string score.

New Directors/New Films 2013 – People’s Park

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People’s Park
Directed by: Libbie D. Cohn & J.P. Sniadecki
78 minutes
USA/China
2012

“As close to pure pleasure as cinema can provide”
A “brilliantly joyous conceptual documentary” in one continuous 75-minute long tracking shot that takes in the vivid reality of People’s Park in Chengdu, Sichuan.

As Cohn runs the camera in a wheelchair/dolly that Sniadecki pushes along, and park-goers return the camera’s gaze, we gradually awaken to a revolutionary meditation on the reflexivity of watching.

People’s Park, like last year’s Leviathan, exploits immersive film technologies developed at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab – notably in an astounding audio track .

New Directors/New Films 2013 – Shorts Program 3

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ND/NF Shorts Program 3

Chiralia
Santiago Gil | 2013 | Germany | 26m
A father encourages his young son to join him for a swim in a woodland lake. Suddenly the world changes, and everyone around them must question their memories and perceptions as time circles around the central event, defying rational interpretation. “Memories are treacherous, but they are all we have.”

A Cidade (The Village)
Liliana Sulzbach
| 2012 | Brazil | 25m
A few miles from Porto Alegre, a village exists in paradise. Only 35 people live here, all of them over 60, none of whom freely chose to come here.

From the director:

“When I first visited Itapuã in 2007, I had the impression that I was in an idyllic place, a tiny little town that was surrounded by mountains, still untouched, a virgin forest, a little piece of heaven on Earth. Paradoxically, this unique beautiful place hides an unhealed wound that its citizens had trouble revealing…”

We are midway into the film before we find out. Vintage newsreel and photos brilliantly juxtapose with the present.

Para armar un helicóptero (To Put Together a Helicopter)
Izabel Acevedo | 2012 | Mexico | 35m
Mexico City, where summer rains bring power outages to poor neighborhoods that rely on dodgy connections.

Seventeen-year-old Oliverio lives with his mother in a building where apartments house gardens, ducks and chickens along with computers, televisions and phonographs. A raw, original film mixing the dystopian vision of Blade Runner with the promise of teenage passion and communal solidarity. Watch this team for more.