Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Cholodenko’

Berlin 2010: And the Winners Are …

February 20, 2010

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)

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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.

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Sundance 2010: Winners and Losers

January 31, 2010

Last night the Sundance Jury handed out its prizes and audience awards. The big winners were the hill people noir Winter’s Bone and Obselidia, a romance which was only lacking a stamp reading “Sundance-approved.” More eyes will turn to the backrooms, where lucrative deals were being cut. Focus Features picked up Lisa Cholodeniko’s The Kids Are All Right, with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple. Lionsgate agreed to distribute Buried, where Ryan Reynolds struggles to escape a coffin armed only with his cellphone (and some great reception). Harvey Weinstein worked his silver-tongued magic and went home with the rights to The Tillman Story (formerly I’m Pat _________ Tillman) and Blue Valentine, which created Oscar talk for its leads Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Other buzz films included the Interwebs documentary Catfish and Banksy’s debut Exit Through the Gift Shop. Anyway, we’ve got some envelopes to open …

Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film

Winter’s Bone. A clear favorite among critics, Debra Granik’s adaptation of a novel by Daniel Woodrell is a chilling thriller set in the Ozarks. A teenager (Jennifer Lawrence) goes in search for her father, who skips jail after a bust for running a meth lab. Big trouble awaits. “My advice? Discover this one now.” said Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir. It’s been picked up for distribution by Roadside Attractions.

Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary

Restrepo. The documentary follows humpy journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) as he spends a year with the 173rd Airborne’s Second Platoon. The unit has been assigned to the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. “I’ve never seen combat footage like Junger and [co-director Tim] Hetherington get in Restrepo,” wrote Noel Murray in The Onion. “It’s raw, relentless, and made all the more unsettling by the fact that the soldiers can’t see who’s shooting at them.” National Geographic have the broadcast rights.

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