Berlin International Film Festival 2012 (9-19 February)

February 20th, 2012 - Graham Eley

Berlin has suffered during recent years from a lack of headline films with many of the arthouse heavyweights preferring to wait for a high-profile world premiere at Cannes during May.  It has compensated by awarding the Golden Bear to various films of high cultural significance from lesser known territories but which, nevertheless, have something to say to a wider audience.  Although, worthy winners, for the most part, they have not attracted sufficient attention to prevent the festival’s top four status from being under threat.  That was, at least, until last year when the Golden Bear winner, Asghar Farhadi’s outstanding A Separation, received wide recognition and has now emerged as a clear frontrunner for a best foreign language film Oscar later this month.

 

Berlin has selected a varied line-up for this year’s main competition, which, again, is more likely to find a gem in unexpected places than provide the film press with a big story.

 

Benoït Jacquot’s festival opener, Farewell My Queen, provides a maids’ view of the demise of the decadent Versailles royal court at the outset of the French Revolution.

 

Wang Quan’an returns to the Berlinale main competition with his new feature, White Deer Plain, having bagged a Golden Bear for Tuya’s Marriage five years ago.  A woman is caught in a land battle between two rival families, which Wang has adapted from Chen Zhongshi’s banned novel of the same name.

 

Another regular, Hans-Christian Schmid, makes his fourth appearance in Berlin with Home For The Weekend, where simmering tensions rise to the surface in a complex examination of family life.

 

Isabelle Huppert stars in Brillante Mendoza’s Captive alongside mainly non-professional actors.  The controversial Filipino filmmaker dramatises a real incident where Islamic terrorists took the wrong group hostage with unexpected results.

 

Nikolaj Arcel, who wrote the script for Niels Arden Oplev’s original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was in the director’s chair for A Royal Affair.  Mads Mikkelsen stars in the dramatisation of Johann Struensee’s real life rise amongst the ranks of the Danish royal court to the de facto ruler of the country.

 

Edwin follows his debut feature, Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly, with a tale

of an abandoned girl who grows up in a Zoo and cannot find happiness when she leaves.  Postcards From The Zoo is based on his own script and stars Ladya Cheryl.

 

Another rising star of the arthouse sector, Miguel Gomes, adopts a typically unconventional approach to Tabu, for the tale of a kindly neighbour taking care of an elderly lady whose backstory includes an illicit affair.

 

Veteran filmmakers Christian Petzold, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani and Billy Bob Thornton will all show new films in the main competition.

 

Mike Leigh will preside over the main competition jury, which includes Asghar Farhadi.

 

 

World premieres from the main competition:

 

A Royal Affair (Den)

Nikolaj Arcel

 

The keenly awaited new feature from Nikolaj Arcel is based upon Johann Struensee’s real life rise amongst the ranks of the Danish royal court to the de facto ruler of the country.  Starring Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander, it will explore power in its different forms with some echoes of Dangerous Liaisons.  Arcel wrote the script for Niels Arden Oplev’s original version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

 

 

Barbara (Ger)

Christian Petzold

 

Christian Petzold returns to East Germany for an exploration of paranoia during the final years of the Stasi’s reign of terror.  When a young lady doctor falls for a colleague after applying for consent to emigrate, it is unclear whether he is genuine or a Stasi plant.  Petzold’s Yella was in competition on the Berlinale in 2007, when Nina Hoss won a silver bear for best actress.

 

 

Caesar Must Die (It)

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

 

Veteran filmmakers, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, blur the boundaries between fact and fiction in their portrayal of real inmates within Rome’s Rebibbia prison preparing for a public performance of Shakespeare’s  Julius Caesar.

 

 

Captive (Phil/Fra)

Brillante Mendoza

 

Isabelle Huppert heads a cast that also includes non-professional actors for the Filipino filmmaker’s take on a real incident where Islamic terrorists took the wrong group hostage with unexpected results.

 

 

Childish Games (Sp)

Antonio Chavarrias

 

Memories of a distant past haunt a teacher in this psychological thriller when he takes care of his friend’s daughter in distressing circumstances.

 

 

Coming Home (Fr)

Frédéric Videau

 

A women secures release from captivity after an eight year battle of wits with her kidnapper, only to struggle with her newfound freedom.

 

 

Farewell My Queen (Fra)

Benoït Jacquot

 

Benoït Jacquot’s new feature, Farewell My Queen, which opens the festival, is an adaptation of Chantal Thomas’ novel of the same name.  Filmed in the grand manner, it depicts the the end of the decadent Versailles royal court from the point of view of the ‘downstairs’ maids at the outset of the French Revolution.  Diane Kruger stars as Marie Antoinette.

 

 

Home For The Weekend  (Ger)

Hans-Christian Schmid

 

Hans-Christian Schmid (Requiem) returns to Berlin for the fourth time with a complex examination of family life where simmering tensions rise to the surface that effect different generations.

 

 

Jayne Mansfield’s Car (US)

Billy Bob Thornton

 

Thornton’s imaginatively entitled, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, takes us back to the the final throes of the Sixties where a culture clash divides two families.  A strong cast includes Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon and John Hurt.

 

 

Just The Wind (Hun)

Bence Fliegauf

 

Real events inspired the narrative for a dramatisation of a gypsy family living in a community that is a target for racist motivated murders.

 

 

Mercy (Ger/Nor)

Matthias Glasner

 

A wife faces guilt when she fails to stop after a possible hit and run accident in Arctic Noway during a sunless winter.

 

 

Meteora (Ger/Gr)

Spiros Stathoulopoulos

 

Theo Alexander stars in the keenly awaited second feature of Spiros Stathoulopoulos, some five years after PVC-1.  Human love and religious devotion clash when an attraction develops between a monk and a nun in the Greek orthodox monasteries.

 

 

Postcards From The Zoo (Indo)

Edwin

 

We could not accuse Indonesian filmmaker, Edwin, of lacking imagination with selecting film titles.  After his debut feature, Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly, he has now given us Postcards From The Zoo.  Starring Ladya Cheryl, it depicts the story of an abandoned girl who grows up in a Zoo and cannot find happiness once she leaves.

 

 

Sister (Switz/Fra)

Ursula Meier

 

A follow-up to her debut feature, Home, Meier’s realist drama depicts class differentials as exit within modern day Western Europe.  Kacey Mottet Klein plays a young boy who steals skying equipment from a luxury resort to support his sister, who lives in a nearby rundown apartment.  Long-term Claire Denis collaborator, Agnes Godard, provides the cinematography.

 

Tabu (Port)

Miguel Gomes

 

One of the rising stars of the art house sector, Miguel Gomes, adopts a typically innovative narration for his portrayal of a kindly neighbour taking care of an elderly lady whose backstory includes an illicit affair.

 

 

Tey (Aujourd’Hui) (Fr/Sen)

Alain Gomis

 

Alain Gomis is the latest filmmaker to adopt the ‘knowing it is the last day of my life’ theme.  Saül Williams plays a Senegalese man who returns from America and sees things very clearly from his new perspective.

 

 

War Witch (Can)

Kim Nguyen

 

The new feature from the emerging Canadian filmmaker, Kim Nguyen, follows a child soldier in Central Africa looking to escape the horrors of civil war.

 

 

White Deer Plain (China)

Wang Quan’an

 

Wang Quan’an’s late Berlinale competition entry, White Deer Plain, is one of the most keenly awaited films of the festival.  Based upon Chen Zhongshi’s controversial novel of the same name, which the Chinese authorities banned for over explicit sex scenes, it is an allegorical tale of political and social change set at the end of imperial China.  A battle for land between two rival families is told from the point of view of a woman new to the area, who is caught in the in-fighting.  Wang is a Berlinale recent favourite having won the Golden Bear for Tuya’s Marriage and a best screenplay Silver Bear for Apart Together.buy motilium tabletsdomperidone buy order domperidone from canadathuoc domperidone where to buy motilium in the usdomperidone suspension buy domperidone from canada

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani were the surprise winners of the Golden Bear at the Berlin IFF for Caesar Must Die.  The veteran filmmakers’ docudrama follows hardened criminals in Rome’s Rebibbia prison in staging Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  It is the latest of a growing trend blending fact and fiction in the search for an objective truth in cinema.

 

One of the pre-ceremony favourites, Christian Petzold’s Barbara, claimed the best director award.  Petzold returns to the former East Germany for a political drama where love and paranoia entwine during the final years of the Stasi’s reign of terror.

 

Bence Fliegauf bagged The Jury Grand Prize for Just The Wind, a depiction of a fearful gypsy family living in a community that is a target for racist motivated murders.  Real events inspired the narrative.

 

The dramatisation of another real life case, Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair, received best screenplay.  Starring Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander, it explores political and sexual power within the Danish royal court as Johann Struense climbs the ranks in becoming de facto ruler of the country.

 

The Alfred Bauer Prize for new perspectives in film art acknowledged one of the rising stars of the art house sector, Miguel Gomes for his innovative narration in Tabu, where a kindly neighbour takes care of an elderly lady whose backstory includes an illicit affair.

 

The Panorama Section audience award for the best fiction film went to Srdjan Dragojevic’s Parade, last year’s surprise hit in the former Yugoslavian countries.  Dragojevic’s flamboyant farce attacks stereotypes as unusual circumstances force macho homophobic former enemies to unite in defending a Gay Pride march in Serbia against neo-Nazi fascists.

 

The equivalent audience award for best documentary had links to the same region, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present.  Matthew Akers provides an in-depth portrait of the Serbian artist, renowned internationally for her innovative performance pieces, and includes behind the scenes footage from her recent major exhibition at the MoMA, New York

 

A common theme emerged from the Generation Kplus Children’s Jury awards as the two major winners both tackled loss in childhood.  Olivia Silver’s road movie, Arcadia, starring John Hawkes, claimed the Crystal Bear for best feature film with its depiction of a family, minus the mother, making its way to California for a fresh start.  The jury also gave a special mention to Kaori Imaizumi’s Just Pretended to Hear, for the portrayal of a shy girl faced with the unexpected death of her mother, and a father suffering from dementia.

 

The Generation Kplus International Jury of industry experts, including Mark Cousins, also picked up on the same theme when awarding the Grand Prize of the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk to Kauwboy.  Boudewijn Koole’s drama has a young boy with a missing mother taking comfort from befriending a bird that symbolically falls out of a nest.  Another young protagonist took solace from kite flying on a journey to a greater understanding when sold for cheap labour in Rajan Khosa’s, Gattu, which received a jury special mention.

 

Generation 14plus Youth Jury gave its top prize to Reis Çelik’s Night of Silence, which tackles the complexities of arranged marriages at their most extreme.  It gave a special mention to The Crown Jewels, where Ella Lemhagen looks at love and rejection in two families that become entwined.

 

 

Awards:

 

Golden Bear:  Caesar Must Die

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

 

 

Silver Bear – The Jury Grand Prize: Just The Wind

Bence Fliegauf

 

 

Silver Bear – Best Director: Christian Petzold for Barbara

 

 

Silver Bear – Best Screenplay: Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg for A Royal Affair

 

 

Silver Bear – Best Actress: Rachel Mwanza for War Witch

 

 

Silver Bear – Best Actor: Mikkel Boe Folsgaard for A Royal Affair

 

 

Alfred Bauer Prize: Tabu

Miguel Gomes

 

 

Special Mention: Sister

Ursula Meier

 

 

Panorama Section Audience Award, Fiction Film: The Parade

Srdjan Dragojevic

 

 

Panorama Section Audience Award, Documentary Film:  Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present

Matthew Akers

 

 

Crystal Bear for the Best Kplus Feature Film: ARCADIA

Olivia Silver

 

 

Special Mention: Just Pretended to Hear

Kaori Imaizumi

 

 

Generation 14plus Youth Jury Award: Night of Silence

Reis Çelik

 

Special Mention: The Crown Jewels

Ella Lemhagen

 

 

Grand Prix of the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk for the Best Feature Film: Kauwboy

Boudewijn Koole

 

 

Special Mention: GATTU

Rajan Khosa

 

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