Posts Tagged ‘Son of Babylon’

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: Panorama Main/Special, Part 3

February 6, 2010

Starting with a Sapphic rock ‘n’ roll band and ending with an elegy for the Bolivian aristocracy, the final part of our Panorama preview contains a broad range of viewpoints. Of note is an Aki Kaurismaki-endorsed story of incest, stories of seclusion from Russia and Israel, a no holds barred biopic about Ian Dury and a charming collection of South Korean actresses. Click on the titles to watch trailers.

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

The Owls

An aging ex-members of a lesbian rock band get a kick up the behind by the appearance of a 20-year-old newcomer. Twisted passions lead to both rebirth and revenge. The ninth film from Liberian-born lesbian director Cheryl Dunye (My Baby’s Daddy) stars Guinevere Turner, best known for writing the screenplays to American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol.

Paha perhe (Bad Family)

Produced by Aki Kaurismaki, this deadpan comedy features an obsessive single dad (Ville Virtanen) who will do anything to keep his son from hooking up with the love of his life—who happens to be the boy’s sister. The icky topic is perfect fodder for that very special brand of Finnish humor. Directed by Aleksi Salmenperä (A Man’s Work).

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Sundance 2010 Preview: International Dramatic Competition

January 12, 2010

The enclave of American independent cinema is also a welcome haven for waifs and strays from around the world. Almost all the films in this year’s international competition have a scrappy air about them, whether it’s Greenland making its first foray into feature production or an award-winning performance from an actor with Down’s Syndrome. Other films of note include a punk take on Poland’s last quarter century, an Argentine pissing match that gets out of control, and Chris Morris’s eagerly anticipated Four Lions.

Click here to read our U.S. Dramatic Competition Preview
Click here to read our U.S. Documentary Competition Preview
Click here to read our International Documentary Preview

All That I Love (Wszystko co kocham)

Where’s this from then? Poland. It’s about the country’s changing political fortunes, as seen through a young punk band.
I love a good musical. Well, this looks like it’s heavy on the interpersonal relationships. The four members of the band cross class lines. A pair of brothers are the sons of a navy man, while another is a member of the country’s upper class.
Wonder who the Pete Shelley of the group is. Any Nazis? There might be a few swastikas, but only in the ironic sense.
See also: DiG!

Animal Kingdom

Strewth, mate! You’ve obviously heard that this is from Australia.
Any sharks on the barbie? You might not recognize this part of down under if all you know about Australia is Kylie and Mental as Anything. It’s about a Melbourne teen torn between his family’s criminal involvement and the straight and narrow. Detective Guy Pearce reaches out to help him.
Mike from Neighbours! And one of our best actors, having given sterling performances in L.A. Confidential, Memento, and even Bedtime Stories.
See also: How to Recognize Your Saints

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Trailerama: Son of Babylon

December 18, 2009

The Iraqi-born/London-educated filmmaker Mohamed al Daradji’s third film has been selected to play at next year’s Sundance Film Festival. A young boy and his grandmother look for her son. Since he was a soldier in Saddam Hussein’s army, the chances of success are as likely as finding a haystack in a needle. The story is overly familiar, but there’s little denying child actor Yasser Talib’s charismatic appeal.