Berlinale: Press Releases

Press Releases 2004


Jan 22, 2004:
Panorama Dokumente 2004: Politics Alert

From Woody Harrelson’s gift for green issues and an anarchistic political satire on the WTO to the illumination of politically uncharted regions in Latin America*, from Karmakar’s essay about a forgotten concentration camp in southeast Poland to the growing-up of Palestinian children – from the situation of Iranian women, the homeless in Hollywood, intellectual women on the different sides of wars and conflicts to analytical portraits of culturally relevant artists like Klaus Nomi and The Ramones, the Dokumente program of the 19th Panorama will offer a dense profusion of possibilities for exploration and debate during the festival. Other topics include Europe’s center, Andres Veiel’s young actors and an essay by Bruce Weber.

*Latin America is a special focus of this year’s Berlinale.

A list of titles/countries can be found attached at the end of this text.

In Go Further, Ron Mann documents Woody Harrelson’s special method of raising environmental awareness: by driving down the West Coast to California in a hemp-fueled bus, covering long stretches of the route on a bike, he establishes contact at each stop with local residents whose environmental awareness has first to be felt out. The Freak Brothers on tour – a cool trip of a kind inspired by the 1970s. Ron Mann previously screened Comic Book Confidential, Grass and Twist in the Panorama.

The Yes Men is by Dan Ollman, Chris Smith and Sarah Price. With a website mimicking the WTO, a small group of political activists captures the attention of Internet users and takes them on a journey intended to bring harsh truths home. Yet to the astonishment of the initiators, many visitors do not even notice that the WTO could not have authored the site. So the group is soon invited to congresses as WTO representatives; Andy and Mike go along with the scam and accept. However, it is not long before they realize they have to step up the satire even more so that at least some of the congress participants will sit up and take notice.

Digna hasta el último aliento (Digna …Worthy to Her Final Breath) by Felipe Cazals: in interviews and re-enacted scenes, the film attempts to find out the truth about how the human rights activist Digna Ochoa y Placido was tortured and murdered. With lies and false testimony, the government attempts to detract from her 15-year-long struggle and reputation – but she has long become a popular hero. In 1986 Cazals presented Los motivos de luz in the Panorama. In Le ultime ore del Che (Che – The Last Hours) Romano Scavolini uses deeply distressing archive footage and interviews with contemporaries to investigate the murder of Che Guevara and his comrades.

Hip-hop and rap in the fringes of the favelas: in Fala Tu (Fala Tu – Lives of Rhyme) by Guilherme Coelho, the young inhabitants of the favelas succeed in extending their creative scope by delivering analytical texts and secret messages of peace in what appears to be a dead-end situation.

Romuald Karmakar, who is screening Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder (Nightsongs) in the Competition, examines his feelings in Land der Vernichtung (Land of Annihilation) while researching a forgotten Nazi concentration camp in southeast Poland. The film is a “making-before” documentary of the director’s next fiction film project.

Journalist James Miller is in the midst of documenting the catastrophic situation in which Palestinian children grow up – when the team gets caught by war forces and Miller is shot dead. Death in Gaza was completed by his crew.

By talking with women and men about religion and other social processes, the Iranian director Mitra Farahani uncovers in the French production Zohre et Manouchehr the mindset of her country as it goes through radical changes.

In Trollywood Madeleine Farley betakes herself to the world of the homeless in Los Angeles – even they have not been left untouched by the American Dream. Abused in film productions, fed by Charlton Heston – individualism from the bottom up.

Helga Reidemeister’s response to the threats of war following September 11, 2001 is a “political road movie”: Texas – Kabul. In it she travels to women in war zones and areas of conflict as well as the lands that have instigated them. In India she talks with the globalization critic Arundhati Roy, in Serbia with her friend Stascha Zajovic, in Afghanistan with the publisher Jamila Mujahed, in the USA with the politician Prof. Sissy Farenthold.

In The Nomi Song the American Andrew Horn rescues a 1970s cult star from oblivion: in New York the German Klaus Nomi came to personify the androgynous philosophy of life at the time. A character study and long-term observation: End of the Century – The Story of the Ramones by Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields immerses itself deeply into the story of this punk family – and the influential American punk band and its music scene in New York which supplanted the hippie era in the USA in the late 1970s.

Freedom2Speak V.2.0: it all began at the Berlinale 2003, before the war in Iraq, and was continued at the film festivals in Istanbul and Cannes up into the post-war and on-going stages of the war. The group revolving around the filmmakers Markus C. M. Schmidt, Christoph Gampl, Brigitte Kramer, Marc Meyer and Uwe Nagel enables the film community – from Abderrahmane Sissako to Volker Schlöndorff – to communicate their sense of helplessness.

In Die Mitte (The Center) Stanislaw Mucha (Absolut Warhola) asks a complex question concerning “eastern enlargement”: Where is the center of Europe? It is amusing and astounding how many different answers there seem to be…

A long-term study by Andres Veiel (Black Box BRD): in Die Spielwütigen (Addicted to Acting) four young actors convey their passion and obsession for their profession. They are graduates of the Ernst Busch Acting School in Berlin.

US star photographer Bruce Weber establishes a world fraught with longing and gratitude in his film essay A Letter to True – an homage to a better life, one which his dogs (not to mention Lassie and Rin Tin Tin) often remind him of. Narrators Julie Christie and Marianne Faithful carry the audience off on a journey – the letter to Weber’s favorite dog True is read by the director himself.

Press Office

January 22, 2004

List of titles and countries:

A Letter to True

by Bruce Weber/USA

Death in Gaza

by James Miller/Great Britain

Die Mitte (The Center)

by Stanislaw Mucha/Germany

Die Spielwütigen (Addicted to Acting)

by Andres Veiel/Germany

Digna hasta el último aliento (Digna…Worthy to Her Final Breath)

by Felipe Cazals/Mexico

End of The Century - The Story of the Ramones

by Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia/USA

Fala Tu (Fala Tu – Lives of Rhyme)

by Guilherme Coelho/Brazil

Freedom2Speak V2.0

by Markus C. M. Schmidt, Christoph Gampl, Brigitte Kramer, Marc Meyer, Uwe Nagel/Germany

Go Further

by Ron Mann/Canada

Land der Vernichtung (Land of Annihilation)

by Romuald Karmakar/Germany

Le ultime ore del Che (Che – The Last Hours)

by Romano Scavolini/Italy

Texas – Kabul

by Helga Reidemeister/Germany

The Nomi Song

by Andrew Horn/Germany

The Yes Men

by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, Chris Smith/USA


by Madeleine Farley/Great Britain

Zohre & Manouchehr

by Mitra Farahani/France