So if the Panorama section deals with contemporary issues and Generations is for the children, what’s Forum? Well, loosely defined it’s where Berlin can put all the other films they like. There’s a particular emphasis on first-time filmmakers and experimental approaches. The net is cast wide this year, with movies from as far a-field as the Chinese-Burma border and Uganda in the first installment of our Forum preview. As for cutting edge, cut-up techniques are used to relate a transsexual romance. The line-up includes the best movie about clams since that one with Elvis Presley. Click on the titles to watch trailers.
Swiss documentary filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff went to Gaza to find the images behind the headlines. He got the goods. This al-Jazeera co-production shows how life goes on under the blockade, with moments of ordinary happiness punctuated by the occasional explosion.
The subjects of Jean-François Caissy’s documentary are in an unusual place. They live in a Quebec roadside motel that’s been turned into a retirement home. Caissy’s long takes and eye for detail emphasizes the grim tragedy of getting old in a mausoleum with has lost none of its transient air.
To get her daughter back from child services, Mona accounts for the last three years. She spins a tale of Barth-ian robustness that takes her from Hungary to working as a prostitute in Liverpool. White Palms director Szabolcs Hajdu’s shaggy dog story is rendered in eye-popping colors and lush visuals. With Orsolya Török-Illyés.
Mary and Enzo’s relationship was unusual to begin with. Mary is a transsexual. Director Pietro Marcello, however, portrays it in what the program notes say is “the form of a script for a documentary.” His use of non-diegetic music and footage spins not only a classic romance, but a city symphony dedicated to Genoa. Marcello’s feature was the first Italian film to win the top prize at the Turin festival.
Congo in Four Acts
Four young Congolese directors cram this portmanteau film with fresh images of their nation. The stories told include the plight of new mothers whose destitution means they can’t live the maternity ward and the heartbreaking existence eked out in a mining town. Another segment profiles crusading journalist Grace Ngyke.
Sharon Lockhart has made labor her beat and few filmmakers render it so compellingly. The woman at the center of this portrait is a clam digger who works in the hours of twilight. Lockhart captures the rhythm of her routine in an immerse combination of sight and sound.
Fan shan (Crossing the Mountain)
Yang Rui captures the spirit of a remote corner of China in a series of surreal and disconnected vignettes reminiscent of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The Wa people living on the Burmese border talk to her camera about head-hunters, human sacrifice and a pantheistic existence in harmony with the surrounding wild.
The Internet is a great place to meet people. Especially if your kind of people are World of Warcraft-playing pederasts. Just kidding! Luis Sampieri’s road movie uses three friends who met on online to force audiences into a guessing game. What makes these three kids tick? Then the horror really unfolds.
Eine flexible Frau (The Drifter)
In her feature debut, German director Tatjana Turanskyj takes a different tack on work. Greta M. (Mira Partecke) loses it after being fired from her position as an architect. Like a daffier Jeanne Dielman, she drifts through Berlin. She’s looking for purpose. She finds the new face of woman in the workplace.
Im Schatten (In the Shadows)
Berlin doesn’t shirk from genre. Thomas Arslan’s offering is a crime film using those old saws of an ex-con pulling off one last job and the crooked cop who gets in his way. Arslan gives all the hallmarks his own twist as Trojan (Lost Killers’ Misel Maticevic) assembles a team and preps his robbery with ruthless professionalism.
It’s a day in the life of three very different Ugandan characters. Housekeeper Mary must buy off the cops to protect her sister. Olweny is a former child soldier returning to his parents’ village. Armstrong negotiates with a childhood friend-turned-gangster to make sure a hip-hop performance goes off without a hitch. Directed by Caroline Kamya.
Tags: Aisheen, Berlin Film Festival, Bibliothèque Pascal, Caroline Kamya, Congo in Four Acts, Crossing the Mountain, Double Tide, Eine flexible Frau, End, Fan shan, Fin, Grace Ngyke, Im Schatten, Imani, In the Shadows, Jean-François Caissy, La belle visite, La bocca del lupo, Lost Killers, Luis Sampieri, Mira Partecke, Misel Maticevic, Nicolas Wadimoff, Orsolya Török-Illyés, Pietro Marcello, Sharon Lockhart, Still Alive in Gaza, Szabolcs Hajdu, Tatjana Turanskyj, The Drifter, Thomas Arslan, Turin Film Festival, White Palms, Yang Rui