Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category

Berlin 2010 Preview: Generations, Part 1

February 10, 2010

Like the Jesuits, the Berlin Film Festival understands that you need to get ‘em while they’re young. To that end, the Generations sidebar features films about and aimed at youth. This year’s selection of 56 features and shorts looks at every aspect of growing up, from unappreciative single parents to freaky flights of fancy. In the first part of our preview, we start out on a Mexican fishing trip and end up running away with an Italian circus.


Three Mexican generations convene on the Chinchorro reef in Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s acclaimed “documentary fiction” of fathers and sons. Daniel Kasman wrote, “a sojourn of a film, getting the simplicity and details of a wonderful but limited experience down to their most honest, most untroubled, most tender, and often most beautiful essences.”

Bestevenner (Best Friends)

This Norwegian children’s film from director Christian Lo combines young friendship, the Christmas season and the threat of deportation. When their friend Naisha flees to Oslo, Julie and Mette pack up their knapsacks and give chase. Expect heartstrings to be hammered like Jerry Lee Lewis attacking a piano.


Berlin 2010 Preview: Panorama Main/Special, Part One

February 5, 2010

According to the program notes, Berlin’s Panorama section is meant to present “an overview of trends in art-house world cinema.” That’s shorthand for “this is where we put stuff we like, but which is unlikely to attract the attention of a Competition film.” The films found in the Main and Special programs highlight international and independent productions in need of wider distribution. This year’s batch includes India’s first legally gay film, a Brazilian action film and Kevin Spacey moving in with his daughter. Read to the end, because there’s a trick in this line-up’s tail. Click on the titles to see trailers.

Read the first part of our Berlin Competition preview.
Read the second part of our Berlin Competition preview.

Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story)

A gay director and his bisexual cameraman learn that it’s hard to make a documentary in Calcutta. Star Rituparno Ghosh is better known as a director, having won the National Film Award for Unishe April. According to director Kaushik Ganguly, this is the first gay picture to be shot in India after the decriminalization of homosexuality.


A straight fitness trainer named Kafka and a gay businessman have a fraught affair. This is the second film in a stylish autobiographical trilogy by Hong Kong IT-whiz-turned-filmmaker Scud (Permanent Residence), which also starred model Byron Pang.


Berlin 2010 Preview: Competition, Part 1

February 3, 2010

The Berlin Film Festival is often overshadowed by Cannes Film Festival as it’s very difficult to dock a yacht in Berlin. It’s endured for 60 years, though, as an early warning system for the best of the year’s international art house fare. The Competition strand features those films vying for the Golden Bear, which in past years has gone to Jose Padilha’s The Elite Squad and Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow. The field’s first half features Japanese war stories, the making of one of the worst films ever made, criminals old and young and the returns of Polanski, Baumbach and Popogrebsky.

Bal (Honey)

Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s fifth film is a father/son story set in the remote mountains. Young Yusuf is ostracized at school for his stammer, but worships his beekeeper dad, who tends to a network of precarious treetop hives. When his father is called away on business, Yusuf follows him into the forest.

Kyatapira (Caterpillar)

Lieutenant Kurokawa returns from the front of the second Sino-Japanese War. He’s had his arms and legs blown off. Shigeko is expected to dutifully attend to her immobile war hero husband. Director Koji Wakamatsu’s previous film, the acclaimed United Red Army, still awaits release in the U.S. Based on the story by Edogawa Rampo, which was censored by the Japanese authorities in 1939.


Trailerama: Der Räuber (The Robber)

December 23, 2009

During the mid-1980s, Austria became gripped by the story of “Pumpgun Ronnie,” so-called because of the Ronald Reagan mask he wore while robbing banks. Ronnie was in reality marathoner Johannes Rettenberger, a man who had frequent recourse to saying “feets don’t fail me now.” Benjamin Heisenberg has turned Martin Prinz’s account of the athlete/criminal into a breathless thriller that should boast some of the finest on-foot chase sequences since District 13.

Trailerama: La Pivellina

June 4, 2009

This Cannes prize-winner looks like La Strada if it were directed by the Dardennes. While their circus is parked in the outskirts of Rome, a knife thrower’s assistant finds an abandoned girl named Asia. Can the aging performers cope with a new addition to their ranks? The first dramatic feature from Italo-Austrian documentary filmmakers Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, who lived with the circus during the shoot.

Trailerama: Blutsfreundschaft (Initiation)

May 11, 2009

There are many who would argue that Helmut Berger shouldn’t be let in front of a movie camera. But the star of The Damned (and Lucino Visconti’s boyfriend) carries a lot of history. It’s used to effect in this Austrian drama, where his octogenarian dry cleaner falls for a 16-year-old estate thug. The kid’s neo-Nazi activity reminds Berger of his own fascist past and the one that got away. Directed by former Vienna Boy’s Choir member Peter Kern, who received a German film award for his role in Syberberg’s 1977 Hitler – A Film From Germany.