Archives: February 2013

Berlinale – awards & photo competition

 

The last couple of days of the festival went quickly by. I wanted to try as many venues
as possible, to try to enrich my theater experience as well as wander around various neighborhoods, with my Berlinale bag on my shoulder.

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Filmstill from: Child’s Pose

Saturday

I decided to watch the award ceremony on a big screen outside the Sony Center, in the square where Cinestar theater, one of the venues of the festival. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see many of them during the festival, but I really enjoyed watching this outdoor screening, even though the screen itself was a little to pixlated for my taste. The Golden Bear (Berlinale main prize) was awarded to Calin Peter Netzer’s Romanian drama Child’s Pose a film about a egocentric mother struggling to save her lost son.

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The Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear award was awarded to Danis Tanovic’s Bosnian film, An Episode in the Live of an Iron Picker  (2013).

The Silver Bear for best director was awarded to American David Gordon Green, the director of Prince Avalanche, which is an American remake of the Icelandic film Either Way (Á annan veg) by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. The Original was much better in my opinion, portraying characthers and atmosphere that will live for a long time in my film- memory.

 

Filmstill from: Prince Avalanche

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Filmstill from: Closed Curtain

The best Screenplay was awarded with the Silver Bear, the Iranian film Closed Curtain by Jafar Panahi (2013).

The Panorama Audience Award went to narrative feature by Felix van Groeningen –  The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012), and documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing (2012). In the Panorama category on this years Berlinale, there were 52 productions from 33 countries.

The members of the 2013 International Jury were: Wong Kar Wai (President), Susanne Bier, Tim Robbins, Shirin Neshat, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Andreas Dresen and Ellen Kuras.

 

Sunday

I decided to attend a photo exhibition “Close up” whereas fourteen young photographers showcased their result, after they had been given the task of  presenting their personal view of the 63rd Berlinale in all its diversity—the red carpet, glamorous film stars, audience impressions, and various other things. With a special accreditation, the participants had the opportunity to try out their skills as professional photojournalists every day from 7th to 17th February 2013 at the Red Carpet and at a variety of special events. I had a great time, sneaking a camera out of my pocket taking photos of the guests. This was a fun ending to my great Berlinale experience, I am defiantly going again next year. Viva la Berlinale!

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And Yes. I am going to watch An Episode in the Live of an Iron Picker as soon as I get the chance to. I am so excited about that title.

berlinale.de

Words: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos: Ása Baldursdóttir and Veera Pitkanen

Berlinale film reviews part II

 

Berlinale. As the days passed by, I had problems choosing what screenings to attend. I decided to go with my gut feeling as did my selection depend on how early I was able to get tickets for each day. I wanted to write reviews on some of the highlights of my selection, part II.

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The Weight of Elephants directed by Daniel Joseph Borgman (2013) featuring Demos Murphy,
Angelina Cottrell, Matthew Sunderland
and Catherine Wilkin.

This highly poetic, sensitive film from New Zealand, about a lonely boy came out with a bang, featuring child actors that played their parts with high emotional excellency. The cinematography of the film echoed the vulnerability those years when you are developing from a child to a teenager. 11 year old Adrian (Demos Murphy) has been abandoned by his mother, and lives with his grandmother and manic depressive uncle in a small town, New Zealand. He is bullied at school, but finds peace in wandering about his neighborhood surroundings, interacting with three young siblings that the audience is not quite sure on if they are real or characters made up by his “state of mind” mechanism for survival. The film delivers this feeling of restlessness and uncertainty, the thoughts of a young soul with a warm melancholic cinema experience, that is visually intriguing.

The director Daniel Borgman attended Berlinale with his two young stars, Demos Murphy (12) and Angelina Cottrell (11), whereas the Q&A became very interesting to the audience for they could ask about the casting process and their experience on acting. It was especially interesting to hear young Demos describe his own life, that he had to dig deep to play the role of a sad boy, being a well situated child in life himself. Those who are familiar with the Scandinavian emptiness element in films, should not miss out on this marvelous debut of New Zealander Borgman.

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Powerless a documentary by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar (2013).

This “on the street” documentary from Kanpur, India (also once known as the Manchester of the East), the fight for electricity is an ongoing battle, but it is stated in the film that around 400,000 are without viable electricity, so nonlegal activity is the answer to the need in hand. The main character portrayed in the film, has a profession on practising pole climping and illegal plugging cables together, being paid by the poor public in need. The CEO of the local power company KESCO is a strong female character in the film, showing the other end of the spectrum, on how difficult it is to run a profitable company in such conditions where unpaid electricity bills are causing troubles for the business as well as the illegal usage from cables in the city.

The film is a prominent attempt to showcase both sides of the coin, the electricity providers difficulties and the public’s need, in a situation where neither side is willing to compromise. The blackouts that are talked about in the film, underline these issues of conflict in a literal way. The Q&A after the film was very interesting, especially when we the audience were told, that the film would be screened in Kanpur soon, in an open air screening for the public. This documentary was worth the while, and I recommend it highly.

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Tokyo Family directed byYoji Yamada (2012) featuring Isao Hashizume, Kazuko Yoshiyuki,
Satoshi Tsumabuki, Yu Aoi
and Masahiko Nishimura.

In this great remake of Yazujirō Ozu’s Tōkyō monogatari, director Yamada prepares this story in an identical way, an old couple from rural Japan travels to Tokyo to visit their children, which all live a busy lifestyle and the couple are thrown around apartments, ending up in a Hotel. Modernity is very well placed in the film, cell phones, fast talking, GPS technology and current events like the Fukushima earthquake all lead us to adaptation blending in with the new era. The film is hilarious as before, and a great attempt to modernize a masterpiece. But as they sometimes say, the original was better. I can agree on that, but still I would recommend this film for being a great comedy about family bonds, character creation and silly little habits.

 

Thats all for now folks. More to come later!

berlinale.de

Words: Ása Baldursdóttir

 

Berlinale film reviews part I


Berlinale. Where to start my reviewing, where there was a pool of films to choose from? I wanted to mention few titles, that struck me the most the first couple of days of the festival, attempting to point out the highlights of the film I watched.

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Side Effects – directed by Steven Soderbergh (2013), featuring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum.

Side Effects is a thriller with a twist, about relationships, depression, treatments and pills. Being a film in competition on this years Berlinale, I had sort of curious nose when I read the synopsis for the first time. Emily (Rooney Mara) is a young and depressed poetic character, who tries to kill herself after her husbands return from jail. After the suicide attempt, she is ordered to see a psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), that prescribes her with anti depressants pills. Emily is restlessly seeking for mental health, and asks for a new drug, Ablixa, after she hears that would make things better. Emily´s husband is found dead in their apartment, while she claims not to remember anything.

The film gives away numerous clues on the twists that are upon us, the character creation is splendid as is the directors strong vision, portrayed in this moody, atmospheric film. It is always refreshing to experience actors that you find familiar, for example Jude Law, in very believable situations. The film is also a commentator on the society that we live in, on the capitalistic way of medical drug usage, for healing problems that maybe never existed.

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Salma – A documentary by Kim Longinotto (2013)

In the documentary Salma, a muslim woman who writes poetry in her fight for freedom in southern India, is portrayed in a very intimate way. In her society, girls that reach puberty are married, in arrangement that their families make. Salma refuses to do so for nine long years, and is locked away until she agrees on doing so. She starts to write poetry, that is published and as following she turns to political life alongside with her husband at first, fighting for freedom and independence.

This honest portrait of this adventurous life of Salma, reminds me on how life is, and how this struggle to change habits of other cultural areas through the medium of filmmaking is sometimes the strongest through the power of film. As a huge fan of Kim´s Longinotto films, I would recommend Salma highly for the importance of these stories she captures to be told to the outside world.

We were so fortunate to meet Salma herself after the screening, where she appeared for the Q&A. Sometimes it was hilarious to hear a question from the audience in German, that the host had to translate to English for Salma´s Indian translator. We found it very rewarding to meet Salma in person, without Longinotto´s presence that mirrored the exact same element as in the film itself.

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Lovelace - directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (2012), featuring Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple and James Franco.

The film was a part of Berliinale´s Panorama Special category, a fictional film about Linda Lovelace, who was a pornographic icon from the 70ts for her role in the adult movie Deep Throat. The film showcases this world that Linda entered in her time, being a filmstar in one second after her short lived carrier in the porno industry. Several years later, Linda shattered peoples ideas about her as an actress, when she published her autobiography Ordeal, where she described abusive and violent marriage to her manager Chuck.

The film is very believable for its film setting and costumes. There is a glamourous tone portrayed throughout the film, the characters are playfully set up to comment on this reality of the 70s porn industry. The film was maybe too American for my personal taste, but all in all it was a good and entertaining film never the less. But it fell short in comparison to what the potential of this material had to offer in my opinion, even though the family of Linda, that now rests in piece, was happy about the outcome the filmmakers said.

In the coming days I will follow up on Berlinale, with more reviews and more experienced filled posts as I ponder upon the topics and visuals I want to put out there. I am now soon off to Iceland again, but stay tuned!

berlinale.de

Words & photo: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photos of Salma: Veera Pitkanen


Berlinale – the fiesta of films

 

My first Berlinale. Finally. I have been daydreaming about going to Berlinale for years.
I realized that the schedule is massive and that one has to be super organized in order
to survive this jungle of fantastic films and events.

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I started out by wandering around the European Film Market, finally signing up for a panel about the economic situation across Europe, and how its affecting film production, sales and distribution. Representatives from Germany, UK and Spain sat the panel to discuss these topics, and it was really interesting for me, as I have sat several panels about these kinds of issues before, where people just rant on about obvious facts, and nobody wants to jump into the deep end of the pool, being afraid to represent their company in a disorted way.

I managed to agree with all of them in some ways, having a blast listening to their frank outtakes about the situation. One things is for sure, I am even stronger in my opinion on being against piracy for example than I was before. Filmmaking deserves more than that. And we, who work with film, want to strengthen the movie theater experience and we want to build audiences.

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Even though my first two days were about meeting people, getting lost in trains, and seeing some films at Berlinale, I think the queer short film program stood out for me, content wise. The short film Ta av mig / Undress me directed by Victor Lindgren (Sweden 2013) was inspirational and honest, funny, witty and modern. How does it feel to hook up with a transgender woman? That´s what I felt like watching the film, and it was confusing, for sure.

Another film from the same program, When I was a boy, I was a girl directed by Ivana Todorovic (Serbia 2013)
was really great as well, showing the family life of a transvestite in Serbia. It was hillarous and realistic in so many ways, so I highly recommend the film.

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I will be taking on reviews in my coming posts, about films seen at Berlinale, both documentaries and fictional films.

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Words & Photos: Ása Baldursdóttir