Forum & Forum Expanded

Dec 15, 2021
Spaces for Experimentation: The First Ten Titles of the Forum 2022

Super Natural by Jorge Jácome | Miền ký ức (Memoryland) by Kim Quy Bui | Nuclear Family by Erin and Travis Wilkerson

In the last third of La edad media (The Middle Ages), a tragicomic lockdown film from Buenos Aires by Alejo Moguillansky and Luciana Acuña, one of the three protagonists eventually loses it. After spending several months cooped up with her family, the performer and theatre director just can’t keep in her feelings any more, asking in a Zoom conference: How will she make art in the future and who will it be for? Will we ever be able to return to the same set-up as before the pandemic? And what does it mean if we won’t?

She puts into words what many people working with artistic processes and presenting them in public have been thinking. “Various films from this year’s programme explore questions relating to post-pandemic art, at times in playful fashion and at others in more observational, analytical style. And it is possible to see in various ways how pandemic conditions intervene in the filmmaking process itself or even shape it from the very beginning,” comments Cristina Nord, head of the section.

This hardly means that the hardships brought by Covid-19 are merely reproduced on the big screen. Portuguese director Jorge Jácome’s feature debut Super Natural, for example, creates a fanciful, dreamlike space for experimentation. A group of performers – some with, some without disabilities – explore the island of Madeira, where the rich flora and fauna, artificial intelligences and underwater beings all make collective mischief. In Afterwater, Dane Komljen sends his characters to spaces far from the city, into an isolation in which the contours dividing humans, animals and plants equally begin to blur.

Yet the pandemic obviously does not determine everything. Éric Baudelaire’s fiction-documentary hybrid, the diptych Une Fleur à la bouche (A Flower in the Mouth), collects captivatingly beautiful images of a flower market before transposing a Pirandello play into the present. Darezhan Omirbayev’s feature Akyn (Poet) also makes reference to the literature of a past era, in this case a 19th century Kazakh poet from whom the protagonist tries to take his bearings. For her part, Vietnamese director Kim Quy Bui observes burial rituals in village and city alike in her feature Miền ký ức (Memoryland).

Berlin director Philip Scheffner presents his first work of fiction with Europe, which for all its new inventiveness still remains closely linked to his essayistic documentary work of the past. While his film follows the fate of an Algerian woman in France, Lina Rodriguez’s Mis dos voces (My Two Voices) is a tender exploration of the experiences made by women from Colombia and Mexico in Canada. In their essayistic tour de force Nuclear Family, Erin and Travis Wilkerson investigate the use of atomic energy in the US for both peaceful and military means; they don’t just uncover many fenced-off areas in the desert, but also various answers to the question of how to make political cinema today. Last, but by no means least, James Benning, a frequent and welcome guest of the Berlinale Forum, presents his most recent film The United States of America as a world premiere. In his customary long, static shots and with a surprising trick employed along the way, Benning explores the USA and reaches a meta-level in the process, as the film also becomes a wander through his filmmaking oeuvre.

So far the following ten titles are confirmed, the complete programme will be published in January 2022:

Germany / Spain / South Korea / Serbia
by Dane Komljen
with Jonasz Hapka, Signe Westberg, Boban Kaludjer
World premiere

Akyn (Poet)
by Darezhan Omirbayev
with Yerdos Kanayev, Serik Salkinbayev, Klara Kabylgazina
European premiere

La edad media (The Middle Ages)
by Alejo Moguillansky, Luciana Acuña
with Cleo Moguillansky, Luciana Acuña, Alejo Moguillansky
World premiere

Germany / France
by Philip Scheffner
with Rhim Ibrir, Thierry Cantin, Didier Cuillierier
World premiere

Une Fleur à la bouche (A Flower in the Mouth)
France / Germany / South Korea
by Éric Baudelaire
with Oxmo Puccino, Dali Benssalah
World premiere

Miền ký ức (Memoryland)
Vietnam / Germany
by Kim Quy Bui
with Mong Giao Vu, Thi Thu Trang Nguyen, Van Thai Nguyen
European premiere

Mis dos voces (My Two Voices)
by Lina Rodriguez
with Ana Garay Kostic, Marinela Piedrahita, Claudia Montoya
World premiere / documentary form

Nuclear Family
USA / Singapore
by Erin Wilkerson, Travis Wilkerson
with Travis Wilkerson, Erin Wilkerson, Matilda Wilkerson
European premiere / documentary form

Super Natural
by Jorge Jácome
with Alexis Fernandes, Bárbara Matos, Celestine Ngantonga Ndzana
World premiere

The United States of America
by James Benning
World premiere

Press Office
December 15, 2021