Forum & Forum Expanded

Jan 17, 2022
The Pull of Precisely Observed Matter. The Films of the 52nd Berlinale Forum

Geographies of Solitude by Jacquelyn Mills | Jet Lag by Zheng Lu Xinyuan | Najeneun deopgo bameneun chupgo (Hot in Day, Cold at Night) by Park Song-yeol

The selection process for the 52nd Berlinale Forum made one thing very clear: however much the pandemic may have paralysed life in our societies, filmmakers worldwide have lost none of their inventiveness and artistic desire. The works selected - 27 feature-length works in the main programme, 14 feature-length works and shorts in the Forum Special programme - are a dazzling demonstration of this.

The films already announced in December and the Forum Special film historical programme are joined by features with a penchant for deconstruction, such as Nie zgubiliśmy drogi (We Haven’t Lost Our Way) by Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal and Happer’s Comet by Tyler Taormina, unbridled and laconic comedies in the form of L’état et moi by Max Linz and Najeneun deopgo bameneun chupgo (Hot in Day, Cold at Night) by Park Song-yeol and the theatre adaptation O trio em mi bemol (The Kegelstatt Trio) by Rita Azevedo Gomes. The programme also encompasses documentary-tinged fictions, such as Mato seco em chamas (Dry Ground Burning) by Adirley Queirós and Joana Pimenta or Cette maison (This House) by Miryam Charles, archival explorations like Alain Gomis’ Rewind & Play and Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s queer experimental film Bashtaalak sa'at (Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?).

Many recurring motifs stand out, such as the various attempts to overcome cinema’s intrinsic anthropocentricism. In Raul Domingues‘ Terra que marca (Striking Land), the camera scours the ground, taking in furrows, water channels or seedlings. This may be no rural idyll, but such precise observation of matter exerts a hypnotic pull. Much the same applies to Geographies of Solitude. Jacquelyn Mills, an experimental filmmaker from Canada, travelled to Sable Island, a thin strip of land in the Atlantic, to accompany the work of Zoe Lucas, who has been cataloguing the island’s flora and fauna for decades on a voluntary basis. Mills’ 16mm images focus on wild horses, waves, freshwater ponds and bizarrely distorted clumps of plastic. Sometimes she buries unexposed film material beneath living roots and edits the resultant footage into the film. In this way, the island’s specific topography enters into a sort of co-authorship with the director.

Attempts to find appropriate contemporary forms of political cinema form another motif in the programme. The essay films Camuflaje (Camouflage) by Jonathan Perel from Argentina and El veterano (The Veteran) by Jeronimo Rodriguez from Chile explore political fault lines from their countries’ pasts that still carry latent significance in the present. This forges links to other previously announced films in turn, such as Nuclear Family by Erin and Travis Wilkerson, which, like El veterano, grapples with the atomic bomb and the residues of the Cold War.

The pandemic forms a further key motif. In Três tigres tristes (Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter), Gustavo Vinagre shows young queer people in São Paulo defying both the virus and the political failure of their government. One of the many things that Zheng Lu Xinyuan, a young director from China, films in her personal essay film Jet Lag is her trip from Vienna to China. The hazmat suits on the aeroplane and the layers of tape sealing off each room in the quarantine hotel conjure up images of crime scenes or medical thrillers, although once she does gymnastics on the bed, the mood immediately shifts.

Director Constantin Wulff was caught unaware by the start of the pandemic while shooting Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien (For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour). His documentary records the happenings at the Wiener Arbeiterkammer, an institution born from social democracy that offers legal support for employees – until he ends up setting his sights on how the institution itself functions as an employer. Another documentary to examine the consequences of Covid-19 is Scala by Ananta Thitanat. In her feature-length debut, the Thai director watches how a magnificent 1960s cinema is taken apart piece by piece. The walls remain in place, but everything else is removed. Thitanat films the end of an era that has been brought forward by the pandemic, thus throwing up the question of where the future of cinema lies.

The 2022 Forum Main Programme

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

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

Bashtaalak sa'at (Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?)
Egypt / Lebanon / Germany
by Mohammad Shawky Hassan
with Donia Massoud, Ahmed El Gendy, Salim Mrad
World premiere / debut film

Camuflaje (Camouflage)
by Jonathan Perel
with Felix Bruzzone, Margarita Molfino, Iris Avellaneda
World premiere / documentary form

Cette maison (This House)
by Miryam Charleswith Schelby Jean-Baptiste, Florence Blain Mbaye, Eve Duranceau
World premiere / debut film

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

L’état et moi
by Max Linz
with Sophie Rois, Jeremy Mockridge, Hauke Heumann
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

Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien (For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour)
by Constantin Wulff
World premiere / documentary form

Geographies of Solitude
by Jacquelyn Mills
with Zoe Lucas
World premiere / documentary form

Happer’s Comet
by Tyler Taormina
with Grace Berlino, Jax Terry, Ryan McGlade
World premiere

Jet Lag
Switzerland / Austria
by Zheng Lu Xinyuan
with Lin Wenqing, Zoe, Zheng Lu Xinyuan
World premiere / documentary form

Mato seco em chamas (Dry Ground Burning)
Brazil / Portugal
by Adirley Queirós, Joana Pimenta
with Joana Darc, Léa Alves, Andreia Vieira
World premiere

Miền ký ức (Memoryland)
Vietnam / Deutschland
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

Najeneun deopgo bameneun chupgo (Hot in Day, Cold at Night)
South Korea
by Park Song-yeol
with Won Hyang-ra, Park Song-yeol, Shin Won-woo
International premiere

Nie zgubiliśmy drogi (We Haven’t Lost Our Way)
by Anka Sasnal, Wilhelm Sasnal
with Agnieszka Żulewska, Andrzej Konopka, Oskar Hamerski
World premiere

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

Rewind & Play
France / Germany
By Alain Gomis
World premiere / documentary form

by Ananta Thitanat
with Pongpop Inheen, Saman Watcharasirirot, Nakorn Nuannngein
World premiere / debut film / documentary form

Super Natural
by Jorge Jácome
with Alexis Fernandes, Bárbara Matos, Celestine Ngantonga Ndzana
World premiere / debut film / documentary form

Terra que marca (Striking Land)
by Raul Domingues
with Maria Alice Sousa, Manual Jesus Duro, Joaquim Sousa
World premiere / documentary form

Três tigres tristes (Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter)
by Gustavo Vinagre
with Pedro Ribeiro, Jonata Vieira, Isabella Pereira
World premiere

O trio em mi bemol (The Kegelstatt Trio)
Portugal / Spain
by Rita Azevedo Gomes
with Rita Durão, Pierre Léon, Ado Arrieta
World premiere

The United States of America
by James Benning
World premiere / documentary form

El veterano (The Veteran)
by Jeronimo Rodriguez
World premiere

Press Office
January 17, 2022