Category Archives: Berlinale

Coverage of the Berlin International Film Festival

Berlinale Recap: Parade of Golden Bears with Surprises

Copyright: Morten Vejlgaard Just

Copyright: Morten Vejlgaard Just

Berlin a-glitter: This year – fortunately – political correctness did not dominate the scene
(Photo: Morten Vejlgaard Just)

17 February 2014
German food stands, Danish nymphomaniacs, Austrian gentlemen and an American scoop – the Berlinale offered its visitors an unexceptional international potpourri. The tone was set by the far eastern imports. By Morten Vejlgaard Just

“The Golden Bear for Best Film goes to …” Jury chair, producer James Schamus from the USA, makes a dramatic pause before relieving the tension in the auditorium: “Black Coal, Thin Ice.” ‘Well, sure,’ I think to myself. ‘Of course, the winner of the Golden Bear is a surprise – no one anticipated it.’

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Goldener Bär für den chinesischen Film „Black Coal, Thin Ice“

Die Preise der Berlinale sind verteilt: Wes Anderson und Alain Resnais gewinnen Silberne Bären. Der große Preis des Festivals geht nach China, in die Hände der Produzenten von „Black Coal, Thin Ice“.

Black Coal, Thin Ice. Pressefoto

Black Coal, Thin Ice. Pressefoto

Eine weitere Berlinale geht mit der Verteilung der Bären unter den Teilnehmern des Wettbewerbsprogramms zu Ende. Der große Preis des Abends – Der Goldene Bär – geht an den chinesischen Film Bai Ri Yan Huo (Black Coal, Thin Ice). Der dritte Spielfilm des Regisseurs Diao Yinan handelt – in Anlehnung an die Klassiker des Genres – von einem Ex-Polizisten und einer Femme fatale.Wes Anderson bekam für den amüsanten Film The Grand Budapest Hotel den Silbernen Bären als Großen Preis der Jury. Alain Resnais wiederum gewann im Alter von 92 Jahren mit seinem Aimer, boire et chanter – einer Adaptation eines Theaterstückes von Alan Ayckbourn, den Silbernen Bären für einen Spielfilm, der „neue Perspektiven eröffnet“.

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Wandering Ghosts and Drifting People

Who are ghosts and who are we? Zhao Dayong’s “Gui Ri Zi” and Fruit Chan’s “The Midnight After” explore the dead, the living, the visible and the invisible.

“Gui ri zi” (Shadow Days), Forum, CHN 2014, Director: Zhao Dayong, shown here: Liang Ming, Liu Yu | © Zhao Dayong

“Gui ri zi” (Shadow Days), Forum, CHN 2014, Director: Zhao Dayong, shown here: Liang Ming, Liu Yu | © Zhao Dayong

In Karim Aïnouz’s Praia do Futuro, the Brazilian lifeguard Donato migrates to Berlin for his German lover Konrad and consequently disappears from the life of his mother and younger brother Ayrton, who later learns German out of fear that Donato would become a “German-speaking ghost”. Although Ayrton uses the literal sense of the term “ghost”, referring to his brother’s spirit after death, it is actually an accurate metaphor for people feeling out of place.This is what Donato experiences as a migrant. We see ghosts again in Zhao Dayong’s Gui Ri Zi (鬼日子, engl. title: Shadow Days), though this time in a more gruesome manner. Whereas Donato becomes a ghost after moving to a foreign country far away from the sea, Liang Renwei (梁仁伟) in Gui Ri Zi becomes a ghost back in his native village.

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The Kaiser in Afghanistan

Today’s films are German. But what does “German film” really mean at this year’s Berlinale?

Perspektive Deutsches Kino | photo: Morten Vejlgaard Just

Perspektive Deutsches Kino | photo: Morten Vejlgaard Just

“Booooo!” I’m hunting down the German film today, the big question being: how is German cinema doing these days? Not exactly well, if you ask the press after the screening of Feo Aladag’s Inbetween Worlds (Zwischen Welten), which has garnered the most boos to date at the festival. On the way out of the cinema, I get to talking with an outraged Indian journalist who calls it a piece of German war propaganda. I wouldn’t go that far, but this moral military tale from Afghanistan would definitely have fare better with a little less formulaic genuflecting to Hollywood.

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Everyone is mono except for one guy: Erlenwein’s “Stereo“

Fast and funny, not predictable and – okay – a bit bloody. Berlinale Blogger Jutta Brendemühl is presenting “Stereo”, the new film by Maximilian Erlenwein.

“Stereo”, Panorama, DEU 2014, Director: Maximilian Erlenwein, shown here: Jürgen Vogel, Moritz Bleibtreu | © Wild Bunch Germany

To liven up the somewhat austere German art house discourse we are often engaging in at the Berlinale, let me show you another side of German cinema:

Maximilian Erlenwein has delivered a good thriller before, Gravity. With Stereo he has reached another level. For starters, top honours go to The Chau Ngo, who deserves to win every cinematography award around. He had me at the 007-style opening credits (I hope Berlinale juror Barbara Broccoli, aka James Bond’s producer, watched the film).

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Berlinale People: Sven Schwarz

Sven Schwarz | photo: private

No compromises, no limitations, sometimes painful – Sven Schwarz, Managing Director of the Hamburg International Short Film Festival, tells Berlinale Blogger Jutta Brendemühl, why short films are the best.

This is my 8th Berlinale. The most important meeting I will have in Berlin?

The German Short Film Associations reception. Highest density of unbelievably nice and interesting people from all over the world.

The most exciting industry buzz at Berlinale 2014?

And the Silver Bears will go to …

Why short films are the best?

No compromises, no limitations, sometimes painful to watch while at the same time fantastic. (Sounds strange? but totally true!)

The biggest pet peeve at Berlinale?

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“The big fish eats the small one, dummy!”

Yannis Economides’ fourth feature film is a film noir set against the sombre backdrop of crisis-stricken Greece. The picture certainly makes its mark – largely thanks to Vangelis Mourikis’ powerful performance in the lead role of a smouldering hitman who eventually explodes in a sea of violence.

“The big fish eats the small one, dummy!” | © Falirohouse Productions

“The big fish eats the small one, dummy!” | © Falirohouse Productions

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