With Roads to Koktebel, writer-director Alexei Popogrebsky established himself as one of Russian #inema’s most promising talents. His se#ond film looks just as intriguing. A young college student repairs for the summer to a remote polar station in the Russian Arctic, manned by a crusty old-timer whose tour of duty is about to come to an end. The isolation is initially exhilerating. Then the pair start to get on each other’s nerves, a situation exacerbated by the boy’s slip-ups. How is this summer going to end? Something tells us it won’t be pretty. The thriller won three Silver Bears (for both lead actors and cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov) at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival. With Sergei Puskepalis, Grigory Dobrygin.
Posts Tagged ‘Berlin Film Festival’
After two weeks of films and wurst, the bears were let free. The Berlin jury, headed by perambulator extraordinaire Werner Herzog, gave its top prize of the Golden Bear to Semih Kaplanoglu’s Bal (Honey). The Turkish film mined a favorite theme of the festivals–fathers and sons–in its story of a young boy who goes into the woods to find his beekeeper dad. Bal also snagged the Ecumenical Jury Prize. Roman Polanski won the best director Bear for The Ghost Writer. Regardless of what anybody thought of the thriller’s merits, he was a clear sentimental favorite.
Other notable winners include the Romanian prison drama Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), which won the Silver Bear and Alfred Bauer Prize. Sight & Sound‘s Nick James damned the film with faint praise, saying the “well-regarded, -made and -acted” film was marred by a “predictable storyline.” Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right went from Sundance to Berlin acclaim and was named the best film by the Ted Queer Film Awards. Winning two prizes for acting and cinematography was Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom, the new film from Road to Koktebel director Alexei Popogrebsky. It’s a two-hander set in an isolated Arctic station. Mohamed al-Daradji’s Iraqi odyssey Son of Babylon also won a pair of prizes.
Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, about an artist finding inspiration in the scrapheaps of Brazil, won the Panorama Audience Award and the Amnesty International Prize. It was also a good week for James Franco, whose short film The Feast of Steven won the Best Short Film Teddy Queer Film Award (phew!). Derived from an NYU course, the five-minute film adapts a poem by Anthony Hecht. The complete list of winners continues after the jump. Click on the titles for more info and to watch trailers.
Golden Bear: Bal (Honey) (Semih Kaplanoglu)
Silver Bear – The Jury Grand Prize: Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) (Florin Serban)
Silver Bear – Best Director: Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer
Silver Bear – Best Actress: Shinobu Terajima in Caterpillar
Silver Bear – Best Actor (shared): Grigori Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis in Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer)
Silver Bear – Best Screenplay: Tuan Yuan (Apart Together), written by Wang Quan’an and Na Jin
Silver Bear – Artistic Contribution: Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer), cinematography by Pavel Kostomarov (Russia)
Alfred Bauer Prize: Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) (Florin Serban)
Best First Feature Award: Sebbe (Babak Najafi)
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.
The fundamentalism of Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is seen through the eyes of two women–a blogger and a photographer–in Anat Yuta Zuria’s documentary. Sarah and Shlomit have suffered for leaving the Haredi, which imposes restrictions on dress and physical contact. Now both take the community as their subject. The title refers to the Haredi buses, on which women are only allowed to sit in the back third. Zuria’s film will have its world premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
It may be true that all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun, but children have been an integral element since the Lumieres photographed a baby’s luncheon in 1895. Berlin’s Generations sidebar continues the tradition with over 50 features and shorts for and about those unknowable little buggers we like to call “the kids.” In the final installment of our preview, their stories range from life on the Georgia streets to South Korean orphanages to Michael Cera’s overactive imagination. Click on the titles to watch trailers.
Susa is a 12-year-old whose job delivering bootleg vodka takes him to some of the grimier corners of Georgia. He’s threatened by the police on one side and street gangs on the other. This grim existence is alleviated only by the promise that Susa’s father will one day return. Rusudan Pirveli’s feature debut also screened in the Bright Future sidebar at the 2010 Rotterdam Film Festival.
Director Fabian Hofman’s film is set among Argentine exiles living in Mexico. The teenager Javier is haunted by the memory of his older brother, who was killed by the military junta. Everybody wants to Javier to be the leader Adrian was. But all Javier wants is to be himself—whoever that is.
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.
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.”
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.
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.