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.

Weigt of elephants-1

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.


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.


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!

Words: Ása Baldursdóttir