A surprisingly large number of films in the programme of the 41st Berlinale Forum revolve around family, relationships and identity. Although exploring the human psyche is the number one subject for independent filmmakers from the whole world, the majority of these films in this year’s selection can also be read politically within the context of social change and political upheaval.
In this way, artist Kelvin K. Park’s documentary Cheonggyecheon Medley places the threatened demolition of a traditional metalworking district in the city of Seoul within the complex wider context of Korean history and social structures. The Dutch film De Engel van Doel (An Angel in Doel) deals with the destruction of an entire town to make way for the harbour expansion in the Belgian city of Antwerp, focussing on the devastating consequences for the largely older inhabitants.
The three Czech and Slovak selections in this year’s programme also bring together the private and the social. In Erika Hníková’s documentary Nesvatbov (Matchmaking Mayor), an energetic mayor’s efforts to counteract his village’s dwindling population with a large-scale matchmaking programme end in abject failure. The debut films Osmdesát dopisů (Eighty Letters) by Václav Kadrnka and Dom (The House) by Zuzana Liová each tell the story of a divided family, in the former before the backdrop of the late Socialist era and in the latter within the economic and mental depression of the here and now.
In Bujar Alimani’s Albanian feature debut Amnesty, a man and a woman get to know each other at Tirana prison whilst visiting their respective spouses for state sanctioned sexual relations. The two of them subsequently begin an affair that could end at any time.
The Argentinean film Ausente (Absent) tells of the confusions of adolescence, whereby a schoolboy tests the boundaries of his relationship to the sport teacher he admires. Director Marco Berger’s highly original second feature reveals him to be one of the great talents of the lively young Argentinean film scene.
German filmmaking is also strongly reflected in this year’s Forum programme. Under Control by Volker Sattel visits German and Austrian nuclear industry sites, showing the people at work who are responsible for the maintenance or even the dismantling of the science fiction of yesterday. It is a film about the aesthetics of a misguided technological utopia and its architecture. By contrast, Kabul Dream Factory by Sebastian Heidinger creates a portrait of Afghan policewoman, actress and film producer Saba Sahar, who stands up for the rights of Afghan women in particular and whose film work seeks both to entertain and enlighten.
The two German feature films to be shown at the Forum deal with dormant family relationships. Corinna Harfouch is Looking for Simon in Jan Krüger’s film of the same name, playing a mother who travels to Marseille to discover that her missing son no longer corresponds with her previous picture of him. In his second feature film Swans, Hugo Vieira da Silva sends a father and son from far-off Portugal back to Berlin to visit the boy’s mother, who is now in hospital in a coma but who has long since been estranged from them.
A unique filmic experiment will be receiving its premiere in a special screening. A debate on film aesthetics organised by the German film magazine “Revolver” provided the impetus for Dreileben, a television production for which directors Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler each have contributed a 90-minute feature film. All three films revolve above the same event: the escape of an allegedly violent criminal from police custody. The films each tell the story in different styles and from different standpoint: from the point of view of a young man doing alternative national service (Petzold’s Etwas Besseres als den Tod), from that of a police psychologist who has arrived to investigate the case (Graf’s Komm mir nicht nach) and from that of the fleeing criminal himself and a local police officer (Hochhäusler’s Eine Minute Dunkel). The world premiere on February 16th at the Delphi Filmpalast will be followed by a repeat screening at the Kino International on the last day of the festival.
The 41st Forum of the Berlinale will be showing a total of 39 films in the main programme and 6 films as special screenings, 24 of which are world premieres and 12 international premieres. In addition, 8 films will be shown from the most important creative period of Shibuya Minoru, a director ripe for rediscovery whose society dramas and comedies had an enduring effect on Japanese cinema.
Amnesty by Bujar Alimani, Albania/Greece/France - WP
Auf der Suche (Looking for Simon) by Jan Krüger, Germany/France - WP
Ausente (Absent) by Marco Berger, Argentina - WP
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye by Marie Losier, USA/France - WP
Brownian Movement by Nanouk Leopold, The Netherlands/Germany/Belgium - EP
Cheonggyecheon Medley: A Dream of Iron by Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Republic of Korea - IP
Day Is Done by Thomas Imbach, Switzerland - WP
Dom (The House) by Zuzana Liová, Slowak Republic/Czech Republic - WP
E-Love by Anne Villaceque, France - IP
De Engel van Doel (An Angel in Doel) by Tom Fassaert, The Netherlands/Belgium - WP
En terrains connus (Familiar Ground) by Stéphane Lafleur, Canada - WP
FIT by Hirosue Hiromasa, Japan - IP
Folge mir (Follow Me) by Johannes Hammel, Austria - IP
Halaw (Ways of the Sea) by Sheron Dayoc, The Philippines - EP
Heaven’s Story by Zeze Takahisa, Japan - IP
Hi-So by Aditya Assarat, Thailand – EP
Jagadangchak: shidaejeongshin kwa hyeonshilchamyeo (Self Referential Traverse: Zeitgeist and Engagement) by Kim Sun, Republic of Korea - WP
Kazoku X (Household X) by Yoshida Kōki, Japan - IP
Man chu (Late Autumn) by Kim Tae-Yong, Republic of Korea/Hongkong, China/USA - EP
Made in Poland by Przemysław Wojcieszek, Poland - IP
Les mains libres (Free Hands) by Brigitte Sy, France - IP
El mocito (The Young Butler) by Marcela Said, Jean de Certeau, Chile - WP
Nesvatbov (Matchmaking Mayor) by Erika Hníková, Czech Republic - IP
Ocio (Idleness) by Alejandro Lingenti, Juan Villegas, Argentina - IP
Osmdesát dopisů (Eighty Letters) by Václav Kadrnka, Czech Republic - WP
Os residentes (The Residents) by Tiago Mata Machado, Brasil - IP
Patang (The Kite) by Prashant Bhargava, India/USA - WP
Poor kor karn rai (The Terrorists) by Thunska Pansittivorakul, Germany/Thailand - WP
Sekai Good Morning!! (Good Morning to the World!!) by Hirohara Satoru, Japan - EP
Silver Bullets/Art History by Joe Swanberg, USA - WP
State of Violence by Khalo Matabane, Republic of South Africa/France - EP
Submarine by Richard Ayoade, Great Britain - EP
Swans by Hugo Vieira da Silva, Germany/Portugal - WP
Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols, USA - IP
Territoire perdu by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, France/Belgium - WP
Traumfabrik Kabul (Kabul Dream Factory) by Sebastian Heidinger, Germany/Afghanistan - WP
Unter Kontrolle (Under Control) by Volker Sattel, Germany - WP
Utopians by Zbigniew Bzymek, USA - WP
Viva Riva! by Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Democratic Republic of Congo/France/Belgium - EP
Dreileben - WP
Etwas besseres als den Tod by Christian Petzold, Germany
Komm mir nicht nach by Dominik Graf, Germany
Eine Minute Dunkel by Christoph Hochhäusler, Germany
Eine Serie von Gedanken by Heinz Emigholz, Germany - WP
Himmel und Erde by Michael Pilz, Austria, 1979-82 (Revival screening)
Sleepless Nights Stories by Jonas Mekas, USA - WP
The Stool Pigeon by Dante Lam, Hongkong, China - EP
Twenty Cigarettes by James Benning, USA - WP
Honjitsu kyushin (Doctor's Day Off) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1952
Gendaijin (Modern People) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1952
Seigi-ha (Righteousness) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1957
Akujo no kisetsu (The Days of Evil Women) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1958
Mozu (The Shrikes) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1961
Kojin kojitsu (A Good Man, a Good Day) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1961
Yopparai tengoku (Drunkard's Paradise) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1962
Daikon to ninjin (The Radish and the Carrot) by Shibuya Minoru, Japan 1964
EP = European premiere
IP = International premiere
WP = World premiere
January 17, 2011