The Panorama section takes in a wide swathe of both independent and international productions which deserve a few more eyeballs cast in their direction. There’s plenty in this year’s line-up to merit attention. A Japanese courier goes on the run after a bomb blast, a miracle-working vagabond raises some hell, Dostoevsky goes Moroccan and families across Europe suffer the fallout of secrets and lies. For afters, there’s even a hermaphrodite road movie. What’s German for “fasten your seatbelts”?
Fucking Different São Paulo
In the fourth installment of the LGBT-friendly series, male directors take on lesbian stories and female directors tell of gay lives in Brazil’s largest city. Like all portmanteau films, it’s literally a grab-bag. Through a variety of genres that includes animation, the directors tackle all-girl rock bands, long-term relationships, and friends turned lovers.
Director Yoshihiro Nakamura and author Kotaro Isaka have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration that includes 2009’s Fish Story. The Japanese team’s latest is about a courier who goes on the run after he becomes a prime suspect in a political assassination. Put-upon star Masato Sakai won a Blue Ribbon for his role in 2008’s Climber’s High.
The past comes back to haunt a successful scientist, rattling his family in the Czech Republic. Director Jan Hrebejk’s fourth feature continues his dramatic study of Czech history, this time excavating the post-Dubček era. With Daniela Kolárová (Empties).
In the best tradition of Boudu Saved by Drowning, an impish tramp turns a small town upside down. Boasting some striking-looking widescreen compositions and an appreciation of rural muck that rivals Bela Tarr, Rehem Erdem’s film won the director a Golden Orange at last year’s Antalya Film Festival.
L’arbre et la forêt (Family Tree)
Is there any bourgeois family that doesn’t have secrets ready to rip the top off of their complacent lives? This time our tortured hero is a gardener who has a story to tell his family about what happened in World War II. Gay filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s latest film stars the venerable French actor Guy Marchand (Coup de Torchon). Soon to be remade with Steve Martin. Not.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1847 short story “A Weak Heart,” about a young man driven mad by the prospect of happiness, is given an extravagant post-apocalyptic treatment by Moroccan directors the Noury Brothers. The buzz on the festival scene is that the story will make your head hurt, but the visuals will probably stay with you forever.
A brood of successful pasta makers gather for a big blowout. Young Tommasso is ready to publicly come out of the closet to his family. Comic complications ensue when he’s upstaged by his brother’s own announcement. Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek made his debut with the acclaimed Hamam. Star Riccardo Scamarcio was also seen in Costa-Garvas’s Eden a l’Ouest.
Tired of being shaken down by the local thugs, Mosquito and his buddies form their own gang in Taipei’s old town. While they are mentored by the neighborhood’s older triad members, a new mob blows into town and is determined to shut the Princes down. A violent action thriller directed by Doze, Niu Chen-Zer that looks set to become a blockbuster in Taiwan, where it’s due to open in a record number of theatres.
Worried that there will be no one to look after her in her old age, an elderly spinster takes her long-suffering maid along to make an appeal to three nieces. Director Miguel Albalaedjo describes his funny but disturbing film as “a romantic comedy, but one with a very important difference: the main characters do not know that it is.”
With a cast of characters that includes hermaphrodites, pandrogonists and transsexuals, first-time director Jake Yuzna is going for broke. Two young people deal with America’s changing sexual landscape in what’s been described as a “queer road-movie-cum-transsexual romance.” At Berlin 2010, there’s always a wild side left to walk on.
Tags: Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Bela Tarr, Berlin Film Festival, Born To Suffer, Boudu Saved by Drowning, Climber’s High, Costa-Garvas, Daniela Kolarova, Doze Niu Chen-Zer, Eden a l’Ouest, Empties, Family Tree, Ferzan Ozpetek, Fish Story, Fucking Different São Paulo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Golden Slumber, Goruden Suramba, Guy Marchand, Hamam, Imad Noury, Jacques Martineau, Jake Yuzna, Jan Hrebejk, Kawasaki's Rose, Kawasakiho ruze, Kosmos, Kotaro Isaka, L'arbre et la forêt, Loose Cannons, Masato Sakai, Miguel Albalaedjo, Mine vaganti, Mongo, Nacidas para sufrir, Olivier Ducastel, Open, Rehem Erdem, Riccardo Scamarcio, Swel Noury, The Man Who Sold the World, Yoshihiro Nakamura