Three announcements today from the Berlin International Film Festival, whose 64th edition runs from February 6 through 16, both of them pretty exciting. First, the jury’s set for the Best First Feature Award (50,000 euros to be split between the producer and director): Nancy Buirski, founder of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and a director in her own right; Italian actress and director Valeria Golino; and Argentine filmmaker Hernán Musaluppi. “The heads of the Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, and Perspektive Deutsches Kino sections have nominated a total of 18 directorial debuts from their programs.”
Second: “The Forum has now finalized its 2014 program with a series of special screenings dedicated to historical films and re-discoveries as well as current works of special formal and thematic interest.” The headliner here is Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Third: “Focusing on how to successfully push storytelling and create compelling films, over 120 experts will join the 300 film professionals selected for the upcoming edition of Berlinale Talents, taking place from February 8 to 13, 2014 at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer Theater.”
Discussing screenwriting: Jury president James Schamus and jury members Greta Gerwig and Michel Gondry. Character development: Tony Grisoni, Claudia Llosa and Răzvan Rădulescu (Child’s Pose). Scene-building: Denis Côté and Aida Begić. Narrative strategies: Producer Martha De Laurentiis and Neil Jordan.
Sound design: Eugene Gearty (Hugo) and Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio). Production design: Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel and 12 Years a Slave). Visual effects: Pierre Buffin (Nymphomaniac) and Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor (Game of Thrones).
Hybrid films: Warwick Thornton, Corneliu Porumboiu and Sophie Hyde. Berlin school: MoMA curator Rajendra Roy, Christian Petzold, Benjamin Heisenberg and Maren Ade. Acting: Nina Hoss. Directing actors: Diego Luna. Producing: Bertha Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Ada Solomon (Child’s Pose) and Louise Vesth (Nymphomaniac). Further summiteers: Anthony Chen (Ilo Ilo), Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox), Haifaa Al Mansour (Wadjda), Edwin (Postcards from the Zoo) and editor Lee Chatametikool (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).
FORUM SPECIAL SCREENINGS
Jehane Noujaim’s Al midan (The Square). Click the title for reviews.
Viola Shafik’s Arij (Scent of Revolution). World premiere. The “accounts of a Coptic activist, a socialist writer, a young cyberspace designer and the biggest collector of photo negatives in the country are combined to form a complex portrait of history and politics. The role of corruption in the destruction of the city of Luxor is one key theme, as is the virtual realm of possibility offered by Second Life, where avatars can equally arrange to meet up in Tahrir Square.”
Maung Wunna’s Ché phawa daw nu nu (Tender are the Feet, 1972). Burma “used to be one of the most significant cinema nations in the world.” Tender “has recently been restored from an analogue video tape, a romantic love story that broke with traditional forms and that serves as an important point of reference for the young generation of Burmese filmmakers.”
George Tiller’s DMD KIU LIDT. World premiere. “Named after a song by Ja, Panik, whose German title is an acronym of ‘The Manifestation of Capitalism in Our Life is Sadness.’ This ‘anti-music film’ avoids the standard clichés of the music film genre. We never see this group of Austrian expats living in Berlin actually play. The musicians hang out in a smoky bar before a show, pack up their instruments after a rehearsal, leisurely drink coffee or smoke cigarettes as a summer breeze caresses the reeds growing alongside a stretch of abandoned railroad track.”
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. Screened as a fragment in 1984 under the title Memory of the Camps, and now reconstructed by the British Imperial War Museum, it was originally “put together in 1945 from footage filmed by the British at the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, supplemented by scenes shot by the Americans and Soviets in camps in the south of Germany and occupied Poland. The film was intended to confront the Germans with their guilt, with none other than Alfred Hitchcock being employed as an advisor to the project. Yet the work ended up disappearing into the archives—these circumstances surrounding the film and its story also form the focus of the documentary Night Will Fall showing in Berlinale Special.”
K. Hariharan and Mani Kaul’s Ghashiram Kotwal. “Describes the development and fall of the Peshwa regime in western India before a backdrop of political intrigue and corruption.”
Jessica Sadana and Samarth Dixit’s Prabhat pheri (Journey with Prabhat). World premiere. “With the curiosity of a true cinephile, the film explores the history of the complex in Pune where the legendary studios of the Prabhat Film Company once stood.”
Michael Oppitz’s Schamanen im Blinden Land (Shamans of the Blind Country, 1981). Restored. “Cultural anthropologist Michael Oppitz travelled to the Magar in Nepal three times in the late 1970s to research their specific form of shamanism. It is not only the film’s unique subject matter that quickly elevated it to a classic of visual anthropology, but also its sense of precision and rhythm and diligent treatment of language.”
Bong Joon-ho’s Seolguk-yeolcha (Snowpiercer). Click the title for reviews. Bong, producer Park Chan-wook and actors Song Kang-ho, Ko Asung, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton as well as comic author Jean-Marc Rochette will all be on hand at the Forum screening.
Three films by Noboru Nakamura: Wa ga ya ha tanoshi (Home Sweet Home, 1951), Doshaburi (When It Rains, It Pours, 1957) and Yoru no henrin (The Shape of Night, 1964). The “family melodramas shot by this student of Yasujiro Shimazu left a lasting impression on Japanese cinema from the 1940s to the 60s.” These three films “tell of brittle family structures and rebellious daughters, the trio demonstrating in impressive fashion how post-war Japanese values began to shift.”
Click here for all the previous Berlinale 2014 lineup announcements.