The Panorama sidebar at this year’s Berlinale overflows with documentaries. Especially documentaries about either a) gay life around the world or b) downtown New York during the 1980s. Both of which, some might say, are closely related. As well as portraits of Warhol superstars and stories of gay life in Paraguay, there’s a search for enlightenment David Lynch-style and a new film from the director of Control Room. Click on the title for trailers and other clips.
Alle meine Stehaufmädchen – Von Frauen, die sich was trauen (All My Tumbler Girls Or All About Women Who Dare To…)
Ever wonder what it’s like being a woman over 40 living in Berlin? Lothar Lambert did, so he went out and interviewed 11 associates. Although well-known in Germany, friends like photographer Erika Rabau and painter Evelyn Sommerhoff may not mean a lot to international audiences. Lambert’s doc highlights the common threads of their lives as well as the differences.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: The name “Berlin” is possibly derived from “Berl,” an Old Polabian stem meaning “swamp.”
Klaus Nomi fans will recognize Joey Arias’s name. He was the singer’s confidant during the Lower East Side’s ‘80s heyday. Since his lover’s death Arias has emerged as a formidable performance artist in his own right. Bobby Sheehan documents his collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist on Arias With a Twist and digs up related footage that featuring Jim Henson and Andy Warhol.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: While working at the Fiorucci boutique, Arias took part in the first live display in the shop’s windows.
Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar
Born in Forest Hills, Queens, James Slattery was soon taking the LIRR into Manhattan. He reinvented himself as Candy Darling, a persona inspired by years of watching junky Hollywood movies on TV. Darling became a key figure in Warhol’s Factory and inspired Lou Reed’s song “Walk on the Wild Side” before dying of leukemia in 1974. James Rasin’s documentary looks at the star of a bygone era.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: Darling’s funeral was attended by stars like Julie Newmar and Gloria Swanson even saluted the coffin.
During the early ‘80s, a group of artists gathered in the abandoned buildings of New York’s Lower East Side. Céline Danhier tells the story of how a genre of transgressive experimental film grew up there, establishing the punk aesthetic and launching the careers of directors like Amos Poe, Richard Kern and Jim Jarmusch. See how neglected classics like Underground U.S.A. and Downtown 81 were independent before it was fashionable.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: Lydia Lunch once shared an apartment with Lenny Bruce’s daughter.
The village of Budrus made international headlines when a wall was erected right through its middle, designed to separate the Palestinian Territories from Israel. Filmmaker Julia Bacha focuses on Palestinian activist Ayed Morrar’s role in the outcry. Morrar bargains with both Hamas and Fatah and organizes Israeli citizens into peaceful protest. But can he face down the might of the Israeli army? From the makers of the acclaimed Control Room.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: There aren’t really any facts about Palestine that can be considered “fun.”
Cuchillo de palo (108)
Documentaries about the mysterious South American nation of Paraguay are pretty thin on the ground. Documentaries about being gay under Alfredo Stroessner’s 30-year dictatorship are even rarer. Renate Costa tells the story of his Uncle Rodolfo, who was mysteriously killed when he was a child. Rodolfo’s life turns out to be one in which nearly everything—including his aspirations to be a dancer—was sublimated by the fascist boot heel.
Fun fact lazily obtained from Wikipedia: Stroessner’s father was a brewer.
Daniel Schmid – Le chat qui pense
Daniel Schmid was a bit player in the New German Cinema explosion, acting in films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Werner Schroeter. As a director, Schmid achieved one of Swiss cinema’s greatest successes with Beresina Oder Die Letzten Tage der Schweiz, which screened at Cannes. Pascal Hoffman and Benny Jaberg’s fond portrait features contributions from Schroeter and Bulle Ogier.
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Schmid’s last film was a 2002 adaptation of Bellini’s opera Beatrice di Tenda for TV.
David Wants to Fly
For years, David Sieveking has worshipped his namesake David Lynch. Desperate for inspiration, he decides to try out transcendental meditation, which Lynch has promoted to the extent of starting his own foundation to advocate the practice. From the Devil’s Mountain to the Himalayas, Sieveking searches both for enlightenment and the answer to the question: are transcendence and a billion-dollar religion exclusive?
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: As well as David Lynch, TM guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi numbered among his followers the Beatles, Mia Farrow, the Beach Boys and Joe Namath.
Friedensschlag – Das Jahr der Entscheidung (To Fight For – The Year of Decision)
Rupert Voss and Werner Makella are men with the dream. They want to take the teenage energy that is too often poured into petty crime and put it to use in the boxing ring. They set up the Work and Box Company to assist young German tearaways. Gerardo Milsztein shows the progress of five kids from the streets to the boxing ring. Some make it, some don’t. It’s Hoop Dreams with bloody knuckles (and a German accent.)
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Wikipedia doesn’t know who Gerardo Milsztein is.
Fritz Bauer – Tod auf Raten (Death By Installments)
State prosecutor Fritz Bauer has near-legendary status in Germany. In the 1950s, he established the legal legitimacy of the 1944 coup that became the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie. He helped Mossad capture Adolf Eichmann. When the uprisings of May 1968 occurred, he condemned the authoritarian reaction before dying in mysterious circumstances. Illona Ziok tells the fascinating story of this crusading DA.
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Bauer was the youngest person to achieve a Jur.Dr. ever in Germany.
Tags: Alfredo Stroessner, All My Tumbler Girls Or All About Women Who Dare To..., Alle meine Stehaufmädchen - Von Frauen, Amos Poe, Andy Warhol, Arias With a Twist, Arias With a Twist: The Docufantasy, Ayed Morrar, Basil Twist, Beatrice di Tenda, Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling Andy Warhol Superstar, Benny Jaberg, Beresina Oder Die Letzten Tage der Schweiz, Berlin Film Festival, Blank City, Bobby Sheehan, Budrus, Bulle Ogier, Candy Darling, Celine Danhier, Control Room, Cuchillo de palo, Daniel Schmid, Daniel Schmid – Le chat qui pense, David Lynch, David Sieveking, David Wants to Fly, Death By Installments, die sich was trauen, Downtown 81, Erika Rabau, Evelyn Sommerhoff, Friedensschlag – Das Jahr der Entscheidung, Fritz Bauer, Fritz Bauer – Tod auf Raten, Gerardo Milsztein, Gloria Swanson, Hoop Dreams, Illona Ziok, James Rasin, James Slattery, Jim Henson, Jim Jarmusch, Joe Namath, Joey Arias, Julia Bacha, Julie Newmar, Klaus Nomi, Lenny Bruce, Lothar Lambert, Lou Reed, Lydia Lunch, Mahesh Yogi, Mia Farrow, Pascal Hoffman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Renate Costa, Richard Kern, Rupert Voss, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, To Fight For – The Year of Decision, Tom Cruise, Underground U.S.A., Valkyrie, Werner Makella, Werner Schroeter, Wim Wenders