Berlin 2010 Preview: Forum, Part 3

Yeah, so the Berlin Film Festival has probably started already. This may still be of use to somebody. The Forum section is traditionally populated by newbies and experimental filmmakers. This year, several themes have emerged, among them the importance of labor and the plight of women in the modern economic system. The third part of our Forum preview has a particularly feminist bent, with documentary filmmakers tackling life in both ultra-Orthodox Israel and ultra-crazy North Korea. After it all, though, we end with a zippy Taiwanese comedy about a guy who just wants to visit his Parisian girlfriend. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

Click here to read the first part of our Forum preview.
Click here to read the second part of our Forum preview.

Pus (Haze)

A handgun and a photograph lead a young DVD pirate to become involved in a troubled couple’s lives. Director Tayfun Pirselimoglu situates this noir threesome in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, where the atmosphere is as potent as Eraserhead’s distillation of Philadelphia.

Putty Hill

American filmmaker Matt Porterfield uses the day before a junkie’s funeral to scrutinize the rest of the family. In a faux documentary style, Porterfield creates deft sketches of put-upon skate punks and their impressively inked parents.

El recuento de los daños (The Counting of the Damages)

A factory is left in disarray following its director’s death. The new efficiency expert (Santiago Gobernori) is drawn towards the widow (Eva Bianco). Output continues to slide as their romance blossoms. The reason? Argentina’s complex history of dictatorship and displacement, unearthed in this contemporary take on the Oedipus myth. Directed by Inés de Oliveira Cézar.

Schnupfen im Kopf (Head Cold)

Gamma Bak had a nervous breakdown at age 30 and was dismayed when she began to suffer from chronic illness. As a way of coping, the Berlin-based director turned the camera on herself. Her film is the result of eight years of footage and 15 of suffering. She uses personal testimony to attack the nature of psychosis head-on, but it’s also a journey back to sanity.

Sona, mo hitori no watashi (Sona, The Other Myself)

Documentarian Yang Yonghi’s follow-up to Dear Pyongyang turns the camera on her niece Sona, who grew up in North Korea. Yang’s relationship is governed by the occasional Pyongyang reunion, which is marked by the country’s surreal atmosphere and the sense that time is fleeting.

Soreret (Black Bus)

Israeli feminist filmmaker Anat Yuta Zuria turns her attention to the hardcore orthodox Jews known as the Haredi. Her guides are Sarah and Shlomit, a writer and photographer who ran away from life in the community. The documentary reflects on the human costs of a growing restrictive fundamentalism.

Sunny Land

During the days of apartheid, the South African resort of Sun City became a notorious touchstone. Aljoscha Weskott and Marietta Kesting revisit with their cameras to create a poetic portrait of a pleasuredome whose glamour may be fading, but whose ghosts still walk among us.

Der Tag des Spatzen (The Day of the Sparrow)

Inspired by adjacent articles on the slaying a German soldier in Kabul and a sparrow shot down in the Netherlands, Philip Scheffner began a journey across Germany photographing birds as he went. His documentary is a lyrical war film populated by our feathered friends and distinguished by amazing imagery.

El vuelco del cangrejo (Crab Trap)

Daniel has run out of road in the community of La Barra, a fishing village nestled on Colombia’s Pacific coast. Although he’s trying to flee the country, Daniel hunkers down and starts to savor the fond characters and gentle pace of life. Using nonprofessional actors, Oscar Ruíz Navia establishes a strong sense of place.

Winter’s Bone

The success story at Sundance this year, Debra Granik’s Ozark noir follows a young girl as she searches for her criminal father among the mountains’ criminal fraternity. Even in this hardscrabble country, the teenager Ree manages to get in too deep. Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell.

Ya (I am)

It’s another gonzo offering from Russia. Igor Voloshin’s film is truly hallucinogenic–as well it should be. Its playwright protagonist admits himself into a psychiatric ward and tells tales of life inside, which range from the mundane to the strange story of a messianic rock star. Might not make much sense, but the visuals are their own form of electroshock therapy. With Artur Smolyaninov.

Yi yè Tái bei (Au revoir Taipei)

Kai is studying French in the hopes of being reunited with his girlfriend in Paris. In accepting a plane ticket from a local gangster, however, he sets in motion a wild night that includes kidnapping and the birth of a whole new love. Arvin Chen’s comic postcard to Taipei stars Jack Yao.

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