Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category
There is more to life than Texas. Although, as any Texan will tell you, not much more. So hurrah to SXSW for looking beyond its borders to the world outside. While the inclusion of a Native American-themed documentary in the “global” slot is troubling, the rest of the lineup fulfills its brief. In the U.K., CCTVs and databases makes Daily Mail readers of us all. There’s glimpses of Finnish living rooms and the very edges of time. There’s love, loss, incarceration, impotency, death. When all else fails, there’s always Viagra to act as our troubled planet’s the great uniter. Click on the titles for trailers where available.
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Teri Lee Geary is a burlesque performer who looks like Marilyn Monroe and swings her tassels by the name of Kitten DeVille. She’s married to punk rocker Shawn Geary. DeVille is obsessed by the 1950s of Eisenhower. He’s mired in the 1980s. Now, after a quarter century of mismatched bliss, it’s coming undone. Documentary filmmaker Nicole Nielsen Horanyi is there to film the kitschy Strindberg action.
Keen to find out how much the U.K. government and its corporate databases know about him, filmmaker David Bond (Lions of Green) drops off the grid. Then he hires a pair of detectives to find him using available information. As another film once put it, we live in public. Bond’s discoveries, however, serve to fuel his paranoia about living in the surveillance state of Knifecrime Island.
Cologne, Germany is home to the world’s largest brothel. With its surreal trappings and industrial approach to love-making, it’s a natural subject for a documentary. What takes Svante Tidholm‘s film beyond prurience is the way his ideas about love and sex are confronted by what he witnesses. The viewer should be warned, however, that there are a lot of slobbering guys on display. Pascha hits the mattresses at the SXSW Film Festival next month.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While adults geek out on the latest from Scorsese and Polanski at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, the kids get their very own Generations sidebar. With films ranging from hard-hitting documentaries like Neukölln Unlimited to the sci-fi romance of SUMMER WARS, it’s a menu that caters to a very varied group of tastes. Some things remain constant, though, like bullying, pain-in-the-neck siblings, road trips and parents who just don’t seem to understand. Click on the titles to watch trailers.
Les Nuits de Sister Welsh (Sister Welsh’s Nights)
Emma (Naissance des pieuvres’s Louise Blachere) escapes from the pressures of teenage life by creating a fantasy world. It’s populated by her overbearing mother and the swooning heroine Sister Welsh, who yearns to escape her convent school for the hunky arms of Capt. Grant. Emma happily lives in her imaginative universe until a boy takes an interest. Directed by Jean-Claude Janer.
A Lebanese family of hip-hop dancers living in Berlin’s Neukölln district is threatened with deportation. Lial and Hassan Akkouch raise money so their brother Maradona can stay in the country, but the youngster falls in with a bad crowd. Agostino Imondi and Dietmar Ratsch’s documentary is like Save the Last Dance if it were real. And good.
In the Berlin district of Neukölln, the Akkouch family are renowned for their hip-hop dance performances. Lial, Hassan and Maradona make a good living, but they’ve been unable to become naturalised citizens. Their uncertain status threatens to tear the unit apart. This documentary from Agostino Imondi and Dietmar Ratsch is set to premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Gay life in and outside of New York dominates this year’s Dokumente sidebar. Both Rock Hudson and The Boys in the Band are placed beneath the camera lens. But if camp reappraisal isn’t your cinematic bag, then perhaps a lost Nazi propaganda film or Iran on the eve of a momentous election will be more to the taste. Too grim? In fact, the overall mood is one of celebration, whether it’s being LGBT in Israel or simply pounding the Berlin pavements.
Hazman havarod (Gay Days)
Israel once had a reputation as a homophobic country, with police quick to crack down on gays and transsexuals with violent enthusiasm. In the last decade or so, homosexuality has been decriminalized and Israel now celebrates its gay heritage. A transsexual singer, Dana International, even won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel in 1998. Yair Qedars examines what he calls “the pink revolution.”
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Dana International is now a judge on Israel’s equivalent of American Idol.
I Shot My Love
A funny thing happen when director Tomer Heymann screened his last film Paper Dolls (2005) at the Berlin Film Festival. He met a German dancer, Andreas Merk, and fell in love. Merk moves to Tel Aviv to be with Tomer, but finds life in Israel difficult. The couple’s future also depends on Tomer’s patriotic mother, who is reluctant to let her son leave the country.
Fun fact lazily taken from Wikipedia: Paper Dolls took as its subject Filipino transsexuals working in Israel as caretakers for elderly Orthodox Jews.
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.
We don’t remember the David Carradine obituaries mentioning his one foray with Ingmar Bergman. Nor do Bergman hagiographies dwell very long on his late-’70s look at Weimar decadence. It’s considered a low-point from the time when the dour Swede, living as a tax exile in West Germany, entered an unholy alliance with Dino De Laurentiis. Carradine plays a Jewish acrobat whose nocturnal sojourns bring him too close to Berlin’s rotting core and Liv Ullman’s underarm fuzz. Dave Kehr says Bergman “comes very close to camp,” while the Time Out Film Guide warns “Bergman’s paranoia runs dementedly and tediously out of control.” In other words, essential viewing. The sloppy look suggests even Sven Nykvist has his off days.