It’s certainly no secret that Berlin has arguably the biggest club scene in the world. Ever since the wall, fell clubs of all shapes and sizes have popped up throughout neighborhoods such as Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. DJs and music enthusiasts flock here from all corners of the globe for a chance to take part in the Berlin nightlife. What many visitors don’t know is that the city has also managed to cultivate a fairly large opera scene. I enjoy the electronic music of a loud, underground club as much as the next guy, but some days I prefer to sample Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi.
This is a preview of One Year in Berlin: The Captial City of Opera.
After several weeks of juggling term papers, rugby practices, and even a bit of traveling, I’ve finally seemed to settle back into a somewhat normal rhythm here in Berlin. One major advantage of studying in Europe for a full year (as opposed to one semester) is the enormous amount of free time I have in between terms. For about two months my only academic obligation is to choose my courses for the summer. Otherwise, I can more or less do anything I want until mid-April.
This is a preview of One Year in Berlin: An Internship.
Iranian director and regime critic Jafar Panahi takes the Golden Bear for “Taxi”, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay Silver Bears for best acting in Andrew Haigh’s splendid chamber drama “45 Years”.
Hanna Saeidi stretches her arm, holding the Golden Bear high and smiling from ear to ear. She’s Jafar Panahi’s niece. His wonderful film Taxi has just won the Bear, but Panahi is not attending. The regime critic is under house arrest at home in Iran, where he shot the film although banned from filmmaking. Taxi is “a love letter to cinema”, said jury president Darren Aronofsky upon announcing the winner. The jury’s decision is a clear-cut signal, a plea for artistic liberty and freedom of speech.
This is a preview of Berlinale Blogger: “A love letter to cinema” – The winners at the Berlinale.
The images in Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert” are at once grim yet grandiose. In his competition entry, he sends Nicole Kidman – in the role of Gertrude Bell – on a journey across the Middle East.
The endlessness of the desert, an infinite series of dunes, amongst them a caravan made up of four dromedaries. Their riders, three native men and one blond woman, battle their way through a sandstorm. Gertrude Bell decided at the end of the 19th century to leave England behind her and travel to Teheran, where she fell in love with the country, the culture and its people, and became an intermediary between the various local tribes and the British occupying forces. Although her British compatriots react with incomprehension and resistance, it earns her respect and esteem among the Bedouin peoples.
This is a preview of Berlinale Blogger: Beloved Loneliness.
As I mentioned in my previous post it’s crunch time here at the Freie Universität as students continue to prepare for exams and write their term papers. That doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t found time for leisure. After all, I’m only here for a few more months, and I can’t spend all of my time on schoolwork. This past weekend I traveled with a few rugby teammates to Hannover, a city about three hours west of Berlin. There, we took part in the Hannover City Cup, a fun-going beach rugby tournament with teams from several North-German cities like Hamburg, Kiel, Lübeck, and of course Berlin. In case you might be wondering how a beach rugby tournament took place in the middle of winter in a city without any beaches, sand was carted into a large sport hall where a small arena of sorts was constructed.
This is a preview of One Year in Berlin: From Rugby to Football.
Doze Niu’s in advance highly contested “Paradise in Service” is set on the Kinmen archipelago of the 1960s, when antagonism between two sides of the Taiwan Strait categorically defines life on the island.
The smoothly advancing career of Doze Niu (钮承泽), whose Monga (艋舺) was showcased in 2010’s Berlinale Panorama, hit a bump during the making of Paradise in Service (军中乐园). He stirred up media uproar for having illegally brought a mainland Chinese cameraman to a navy port of call in Zuoying (左营) in South Taiwan, which as all military areas in Taiwan are off-limits for Mainlanders, during location scouting. Because of this incident Niu lost support from the military and most funding partners; the script also needed adjustment to accommodate the lack of locations and resources. The end result of Paradise in Service thus gives the impression of disproportionally and dangerously leaning against the brothel setting (the “Paradise” part) while only sketchily touching upon life in the military (the “service” part).
This is a preview of Berlinale Blogger: World events like a TV soap.
Over the summer 2014 I had the chance to skype with Andreas Dresen – full disclosure: one of my favourite auteurs. His latest film “Als wir träumten”, again set in the GDR around the “Wende”, is in Competition at Berlinale 2015.
We spoke about his 1992 feature debut Silent Country, which he showed on 35mm to amazed audiences in Toronto recently. In the film, young, naive and enthusiastic theatre director Kai comes to a grim East German provincial town to put on Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Although the lethargic company shows no interest in the play, his spirit remains undaunted. Meanwhile, it is fall 1989. The world is changing and far away in the capital, a revolution is taking place. Great hopes emerge in the little town, and unexpected events overtake Kai’s derailed production. Reflections of and on Dresen’s own life and work are inevitable.
This is a preview of Berlinale People: On Silence – Interview with Andreas Dresen.