Berlinale Special & Berlinale Series
Jan 26, 2021
Berlinale Series 2021: Toxic Antiheroes, Utopias of Freedom
In an unusual year, the selection of the Berlinale Series consists of six titles which, with unconventional and surprising topics, narratives and visual style, comprise a mirror of our time. Latin-American content is represented for the first time at Berlinale Series with the Argentinian HBO production Entre hombres (Amongst Men) and Os últimos dias de Gilda (The Last Days of Gilda) from Brazil. Moreover, Philly D.A., a US production by Oscar-nominated duo Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, is the first documentary series to be invited into the programme.
The creators take an impartial and precise look at their characters and milieus. Collective traumas of the recent past are rethought, social classes and their significance for individual fates are questioned. The protagonists often find themselves in a climate of polarisation: the absolute necessity for (political) positioning, for locating in delimiting value systems means both hope for change and the risk of escalation.
Entre hombres, a modern classic in four episodes by director Pablo Fendrik with breathtaking timing, shows the eponymous male world in its most brutal facets; as a game of violence, aversion and power. The homage to the aesthetics of the 1990s celebrates and challenges its chosen genre as well as the world it depicts. With his second show at Berlinale Series, Ich und die Anderen (Me and the Others), David Schalko is playing mind games with us and leads through the various consciousness levels of an advertisement hipster and his crazy artist family (in the ensemble cast: Tom Schilling, Sophie Rois, Martin Wuttke, Lars Eidinger, Katharina Schüttler). It's a Sin is about an unknown, deadly virus that is spreading worldwide. Russell T Davies' touching miniseries about an irresistible group of friends and the beginnings of HIV in London in the 1980s evokes painful connotations in the current situation.
In Philly D.A. civil rights activist Larry Krasner has the ambitious goal of nothing less than the overturning of the legal system, which he blames for the mass convictions of mainly Black defendants in Philadelphia. His election as district attorney first seems unlikely, but turns into a triumph. The creators Ted Passon, Yoni Brook and Nicole Salazar portray Krasner's first successes, pushbacks and defeats with passing observation. Snöänglar, a dark socio-crime study in matt white tones comes from Sweden and Denmark by creator Mette Heeno (Berlinale Series 2016: Splitting up Together). The complex story of the disappearance of an infant is captivating, multi-layered and confronts the viewers with their own ideas and images of family and motherhood. The four-part series Os últimos dias de Gilda by Gustavo Pizzi is unique in every sense. The warm, physical, lustful portrayal of his heroine, played by Karine Teles, is a statement of personal freedom within an environment full of threat and censorship.
Entre Hombres (Amongst Men)
Director: Pablo Fendrik
with Gabriel Goity, Nicolás Furtado, Diego Velázquez, Diego Cremonesi, Claudio Rissi
4 episodes of 60’
A VHS recording of a senator participating in an orgy with a tragic ending unleashes a path of death, destruction and madness as he tries to recover the lost tape. It’s 1996, and the underground world of Buenos Aires is controlled by gangs and corrupt police officers.
Ich und die Anderen (Me and the Others)
Creator: David Schalko
Director: David Schalko
with Tom Schilling, Lars Eidinger, Katharina Schüttler, Sophie Rois, Mavie Hörbiger, Martin Wuttke
6 episodes of 40’
What is the relationship between “I” and “the others”, and what would change if you could define the rules of the game at will? David Schalko’s absurd satire explores these questions with razor-sharp dialogue and a delight in escalation.
It’s a Sin
Creator: Russell T Davies
Showrunner: Russell T Davies, Nicola Shindler
Director: Peter Hoar
with Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry, Keeley Hawes, Nathaniel Curtis, Lydia West, Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas
Broadcaster: Channel 4, HBO Max with All3Media International
5 episodes of 48’
A story of love, life and loss. A group of queer young men come together in London in the early 1980s. They are all searching for themselves and a future filled with freedom and love. But the onset of the AIDS crisis confronts them with harsh realities.
Os últimos dias de Gilda (The Last Days of Gilda)
Creator: Gustavo Pizzi
Director: Gustavo Pizzi
with Karine Teles, Julia Stockler, Antonio Saboia, Ana Carbatti, Lucas Gouvêa
Broadcaster: Canal Brasil
4 episodes of 30’
Gilda loves cooking, men and life. But for her narrow-minded, religious neighbours this self-confident, independent woman who butchers pigs in her garden and has more than one lover, is increasingly becoming a thorn in the flesh.
Creators: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar
Directors: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook
with Larry Krasner
8 episodes of 54’
Promising to reform law enforcement and reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, the progressive Larry Krasner is elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in late 2017. But his plans are not universally welcomed.
Snöänglar (Snow Angels)
Creator: Mette Heeno
Director: Anna Zackrisson
with Josefin Asplund, Eva Melander, Maria Rossing, Ardalan Esmaili, Cecilia Nilsson
Broadcaster: SVT, DR
6 episodes of 58’
The disappearance of a five-week-old baby at Christmastime plunges the child’s mother Jenni into despair and brings police officer Alice onto the scene. The two are not the only ones whose lives are touched by the case.
January 26, 2021