Category Archives: #BIFF

#BIFF A Strong Showing in Cannes

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund, Berlinale Talents Alumni, and a Berlinale Shorts Winner

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Four films supported by the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund (WCF) have been invited to participate in the program of the Cannes Film Festival.

Director Mahdi Fleifel, who won the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) in 2016 for A Man Returned from the Berlinale Shorts section, is also presenting his new work: A Drowning Man.

In addition, a total of 40 Berlinale Talents alumni from various film professions (directing, production, acting, camera, editing, costume design, screenwriting) are represented in 25 films selected for Cannes.

More information about Berlinale Talents can be found here.

The following films funded by the WCF are screening in Cannes:

I Am Not a Witch by Rungano Nyoni (Berlinale Talents alumnus) – Zambia / France / United Kingdom / Germany
La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs

Los perros by Marcela Said – Chile / France / Argentina
Semaine de la Critique

La belle et la meute by Kaouther Ben Hania – Tunisia / France / Germany
Un Certain Regard

Aala kaf ifrit (Beauty and the Dogs) by Karim Moussaoui – Algeria / France / Germany
Un Certain Regard

More information about the World Cinema Fund can be found here.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

 

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Berlinale Mourns the Loss of Franz Stadler

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Renowned cinema owner and curator Franz Stadler died on Sunday after a long illness.

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For almost forty years Franz and Rosemarie Stadler ran the filmkunst 66, a multi-prize-winning arthouse cinema in Berlin Charlottenburg. In 1971 Franz Stadler took over the two-screen cinema in the Bleibtreustraße and before long the sophisticated program he put together established it as one of the most important institutions for independent cinema in Berlin. Stadler also initiated a number of film festivals and was awarded Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit for his services to cinema. In 2011, the Berlin International Film Festival honored Franz and Rosemarie Stadler with the Berlinale Camera.

*Featured Photo Credit: Jan Windszus @Berlinale 2010

(Source: www.berlinale.de)

HollywoodGlee sits down with the critically acclaimed Dream Boat director, Tristan Ferland Milewski


Tristan Ferland Milewski has directed numerous documentary portraits about top pop acts like Madonna, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson among others and was responsible for the script and direction of the documentary series MAKE LOVE – ONE CAN LEARN HOW TO MAKE LOVE (nominated for the German Television Prize 2017, a gebrueder beetz production). DREAM BOAT (also by gebrueder beetz filmproduktion) is his first feature-length documentary for theatrical release.

 

dreamboat_tristanWhat made you want to take a documentary approach to this story of a party cruise?

A cruise ship and 3000 men from 89 nations. My producer, Christian Beetz, and myself were in love with this idea from the start.

The boat is like a microcosm with its own codes, yet, in many ways, it mirrors society on a much grander scale. This is why, in the end, the questions and topics that the film addresses are not only relevant for gay men, but also for each and everyone one of us.

Ultimately, the film is a quest about longing to live and love as you are.

 

This film centers around a core group of men and you keep coming back to them. What was it that kept bringing you back to them as both protagonists and subject? What drew you to these particular protagonists?

I felt that for each of my protagonists this trip had great emotional significance.

For Dipankar from India, for example, it was his first time to be in an environment with only gay men. He was almost in a state of culture shock. Yet, it was an important step in his life towards being proud of who he is. After the film he decided to come out at his workplace and to his family and was fully accepted.

 

How did you find your protagonists for Dream Boat, as they all have such varied and interesting stories?

I went on this cruise one year before, where we already did some filming and where I already met two of my protagonists. There is also a closed facebook group where all future passengers and regular passengers can meet. Here, I got in contact with many guys and was able to tell everyone more about the ideas behind the film.

Of course, on this boat there are guests from oppressive countries or maybe those who have not outed themselves in their home countries, so making this film carried a large responsibility for me. It was important to be clear with my efforts and approachable all the time –  before, during and even after the actual shooting of film. In other words, during the entire process.
Additionally, I met all my protagonists before the trip, most of them in their home countries, to get to know them and their stories better and develop a true base of trust.

 

This film explores some deep emotions, specifically the struggle with gay men who go on cruises looking for love and relationship. What is it about cruise ships and the gay community that inspired you to tell these stories?

Naturally, in a city like Berlin, I can live quite freely as a gay man. But if you look at our world as it is, there’s still a lot of discrimination and threatening situations going on for gays and it’s getting worse. So as long as these repressive situations still exist, “islands” like this boat also need to exist so people can be who they are and be free.

What is also interesting is that the limit of time on the boat brings with it a lot of pressure and expectations.

Everything has to happen in this short time period, before you get kicked out into reality again. Time and space become abstract; we shot almost 24h a day. Everything is condensed so that, in the end, you are confronted with the real questions of life.

The film shows beautiful love stories, but also a certain loneliness which brings us to ask fundamental questions about our western civilization. In these times of selfies and self-optimization, we present ourselves on the market as a commodity in our search for love or acceptance. Yet, sometimes when we present this mere surface, we often receive emptiness in return.

 

This is a powerful film and you have been lucky enough to screen your work at the Berlin international film festival. How have you been able to master navigating the film festival world? Do you have any advice for other filmmakers who are having their first festival experiences?

Film is team work, therefore, it is a wonderful and very special moment to enjoy and celebrate together, as you go through such a deep journey. When you’re passionate about something, then other people become passionate about it too and this hopefully transfers to the audience. For me, it was such a big gift that the film was so well-received by a very mixed audience.

And most importantly by the real stars of the Dream Boat. Most of the protagonists were able to join the world premiere in Berlin. They are very happy with the film. We had really emotional screenings at the festival, full of love, tears and laughing.

 

http://www.critic.de/typo3conf/ext/critic_de/pi1/flash/player.swf

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Colo (Villaverde, 2017): Portugal

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Colo, a new film by Alce Films from Writer/Director Teresa Villaverde was screened at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition. The film utilized an unorthodox approach. After the opening scene of over-the-sholuder close-ups and Hollywood style medium close-ups on reverse angles, deep focus long-shots were utilized. Often times the frame pulled out rather than pushing in – a more typical filmmaking technique.

The narrative focuses on a family in the midst of economic crisis. The father, played by João Pedro Vaz, has lost. not only his job, but his strength and fortitude to continue looking for work. Instead, he escapes to the apartment dwelling rooftop to look wistfully upon the horizon. The mother, played by Beatriz Batarda, works two jobs with little time for her daughter or husband. It’s not a lack of caring. Rather, it’s a lack of life force energy. Alice Albergaria Borges portrays the daughter. She’s of high school age and is experiencing all the typical changes and social issues inherent within. Only, her issues seem magnified. Until the camera pulls out revealing stunning, picturesque mise-en-scene.

Consequently, the emotionality of the film revealed little intimacy while the overall feeling was one of benevolence. Low-key lighting and shadows added to the film’s mystique. I can’t say this was one of my favorite films. I imagine it was considered for the Silver Bear for New Perspectives in filmmaking.

Nevertheless, the film showcased the natural beauty of the Romanian countryside and allowed for character development without delving deeply into the emotional states via camera framing.

Unfortunately, by the film’s end the benevolent feeling I had felt throughout the film was gone and the film seemingly was wanting a redo. Not recommended at this time. However, with minor tweaks, I predict the film will be visible on this year’s festival circuit and will eventually have a successful theatrical run. It may be arthouse. It may be grindhouse. Or it may be avant-garde. Stay tuned for more. Until then, I’ll see you at the cineam!

BERLINALE 2017 COMES TO A SPLENDID CLOSE

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival culminated with the presentation of the awards on Saturday, February 18. (See list of prize winner)

Over eleven days, the Berlinale drew movie fans and the international film industry to cinemas and a large variety of events. Its reputation as the world’s biggest public festival was reconfirmed: a total of 334,471 tickets were sold. And with more than 7,000 visitors, the program of the Berlinale Open House in the Audi Berlinale Lounge – with its Berlinale Lounge Nights and a variety of other events – was a crowd-puller.

Not only the Berlinale but also the European Film Market (EFM) can look back at a successful edition. With 9,550 trade professionals from 108 countries at 192 stands, the EFM once again recorded a significant increase in participants this year. It was gratifying to observe the huge crowds at many different new EFM initiatives. The “Berlinale Africa Hub”, which debuted this year, achieved its goal of providing African film-making with an exceptionally attractive platform. Events within the framework of the “EFM Horizon presented by Audi” initiative, which focussed on the film industry of the future, were very popular as well.

In its third round, the expanded “Drama Series Days” again registered a rise in attendance. And with Mexico, the very first “Country in Focus” at the EFM also proved a resounding success.

Once more, the Berlinale’s activities for refugees were received with great enthusiasm: the Berlin International Film Festival had urged visitors to make donations for the traumatized children and adolescents at Zentrum ÜBERLEBEN. With the 17,574 euro (on Feb 20, 2017) collected, the center will be able to provide its young patients with additional social and psychological support, as well as recreational activities.

About 1,400 people participated in a “movie mentoring” project in which volunteers from Berlin’s non-profit refugee aid organizations accompanied refugees to Berlinale screenings.

The 68th Berlin International Film Festival will be held from February 15 to 25, 2018.

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(Source: Berlinale Press office)

 

 

Golden Bear and Prizes of the Berlin International Jury

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Quite an eventful 67th Berlinale. Some fantastic films. I had the good fortune to view all but one of the award-winning films, Silver Bear for Best Screenplay, Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza’s  Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman).  Pokot Spoor winner of the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives from Agnieszka Holland did not receive my recommendation. Thank you to the jury for all their hard work and diligent efforts!

*Members of the Jury: Paul Verhoeven (Jury President), Dora Bouchoucha Fourati, Olafur Eliasson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Jentsch, Diego Luna and Wang Quan’an

PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL JURY

 

GOLDEN BEAR FOR BEST FILM (awarded to the film’s producer) Testről és lélekről On Body and Soul by Ildikó Enyedi

SILVER BEAR GRAND JURY PRIZE Félicité by Alain Gomis

SILVER BEAR ALFRED BAUER PRIZE for a feature film that opens new perspectives Pokot Spoor by Agnieszka Holland

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST DIRECTOR Aki Kaurismäki for Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope/Die andere Seite der Hoffnung)

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTRESS Kim Minhee in Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone) by Hong Sangsoo

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTOR Georg Friedrich in Helle Nächte (Bright Nights) by Thomas Arslan

SILVER BEAR FOR BEST SCREENPLAY Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza for Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman) by Sebastián Lelio

SILVER BEAR FOR OUTSTANDING ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTION in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design

*Dana Bunescu for the editing in Ana, mon amour by Călin Peter Netzer

The complete award list of the 67th Berlinale: 67_berlinale_awards-1

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

BERLIN AWARDS ANNOUNCED IN GENERATION KPLUS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

CRYSTAL BEARS AND DEUTSCHES KINDERHILFSWERK (THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY OF GERMANY) AWARDS IN GENERATION KPLUS

Piata loď, Amelie rennt, Promise, Hedgehog’s Home

The members of the Children’s Jury in Generation Kplus give the following awards:

Crystal Bear for the Best Film: Piata loď (Little Harbour)
By Iveta Grófová, Slovak Republic / Czech Republic 2017
We selected a film that is creative and authentic. It’s about two children who create a little world of their own, rules. We found the story very moving and the actors are very believable too.

Special Mention: Amelie rennt (Mountain Miracle – An Unexpected Friendship)
By Tobias Wiemann, Germany / Italy 2017
With great wit and fast-paced dialogue, this film describes the development of an unlikely friendship between two fascinating characters.

Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: Promise
By Xie Tian, USA 2016
Set in a breath-taking landscape, this film tells the moving story of a Chinese boy. The convincing performances and masterful cinematography lend the film great authenticity.

Special Mention Short Film: Hedgehog’s Home
By Eva Cvijanovic, Canada / Croatia 2016
The message of this tale, that a home of one’s own is very important, is beautifully conveyed by the creative use of felt animation. We were also impressed by the unusual verse form of the narrative in this stop-motion film.

 

Becoming Who I Was, Estiu 1993, Aaba, Sabaku

The members of the International Jury Generation Kplus – Fabian Gasmia, Aneta Ozorek, Yoon Ga-eun – give the following awards:

The Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Film, endowed with € 7,500 each by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany):

ex aequo

Becoming Who I Was
By Chang-Yong Moon, Jin Jeon, Republic Korea 2017
In this beautifully shot tale we learn in a wonderful bittersweet way how much a parent and a child can learn from each other. The filmmaker achieved the most difficult: making the audience laugh and cry many times. The film gave the jury confidence in humanity and if the values of the young hero of this story would be only reflected a little bit by its audience the world will become a better place.

Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993)
By Carla Simón, Spain 2017
In this remarkable film we learn through the eyes of a little girl how to cope with loss. The lesson that this incredible heroine learns and that moved us to tears is that no matter how much it hurts, it is the unconditional love of the people around you that will ease your pain. Besides the outstanding performance of the young main actress the jury was also very impressed by the beautiful cinematography and sensual mise-en-scène!

The Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Short Film, endowed with € 2,500 by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany): Aaba (Grandfather)
By Amar Kaushik, India 2016
It tells a story of the circle of life in an elegiac and slow pace with a beautiful cinematography.

Special Mention: Sabaku
By Marlies van der Wel, The Netherlands 2016
This very short film tells with simple but very efficient use of extremely skilled artistic animation technique the story of a bird that goes around the world to find a new friend. The jury was blown away by its pace and incredible joy of the filmmaker to entertain her audience.

Award ceremony and screening of the winning film of the Crystal Bear take place today at 3.30 pm at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

THE PANORAMA AUDIENCE AWARDS GO TO INSYRIATED AND I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The public has cast its votes: the 19th Panorama Audience Awards – presented by the Berlinale Panorama section in collaboration with radioeins and for the first time in co-operation with rbb television (Berlin-Brandenburg Broadcasting) – go to Insyriated by Philipp Van Leeuw for best fiction film and I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck for best documentary.

Insyriated is a tautly-constructed chamber drama about trying to live a normal life in a war zone. It is the second film starring Hiam Abbass that has won the Panorama Audience Award (she also played the lead in Eran Riklis’s Lemon Tree in 2008).

Raoul Peck’s filmic essay I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin and his three assassinated friends – civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X – has also been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature.

The official award ceremony will be held at 5 pm on Sunday, February 19 in CinemaxX 7 at Potsdamer Platz. The prizes will be awarded by rbb director Patricia Schlesinger. Knut Elstermann, radioeins film expert, and Panorama curator Wieland Speck will host the event. Directly after the ceremony, the winning fiction film will be shown. The Panorama Dokumente winner will be screened at 8 pm, also in CinemaxX 7.

The Panorama Audience Award has been given since 1999. Since 2011, not only the best fiction film but also the best documentary film have received awards. During the festival, moviegoers are asked to rate the films shown in Panorama on voting cards after the screenings. In 2017 a total of 29,000 votes were cast and counted.

This year Panorama presented 50 feature-length films from 43 countries, of which 21 screened in the Panorama Dokumente series.

Panorama Audience Award Winner Fiction Film 2017
Insyriated
Belgium / France / Lebanon 2017
By Philippe Van Leeuw

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
Karera ga Honki de Amu toki wa (Close-Knit)
Japan 2017
By Naoko Ogigami

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017
1945
Hungary 2017
By Ferenc Török

Panorama Audience Award Winner Panorama Dokumente 2017
I Am Not Your Negro
France / USA / Belgium / Switzerland 2016
By Raoul Peck

2nd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Chavela
USA 2017
By Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi

3rd place Panorama Audience Award Panorama Dokumente 2017
Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting)
France / Palestine / Switzerland / Qatar 2017
By Raed Andoni

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: For Ahkeem (Levine,Van Soest, 2017): USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest presented For Ahkeem, a new documentary, at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Forum. For Ahkeem attempts to address and capture a young, black woman’s life pathway from footage accumulated over the course of approximately two years. In doing so, Levine and Von Soest limit a wider lens.

For Ahkeem tracks a roughly seventeen year-old African-American female, Daje, from the north side of St. Louis, Missouri, an area of the city notorious for its gun violence and innocent killings from drive-by shootings. The film is predominantly direct cinema.

Daje comes across as a rather representative, angry, militant teenager of the area. Daje has been expelled from school for the final time and has to make an appearance in juvenile court. The judge has read Daje’s not-so-promising juvenile record and decides to give her a refuge of last resort – an alternative school he started. It’s an offer Daje can’t refuse despite her best efforts.

It’s here Daje transforms from adolescent girl to young woman. With help from the staff and support from family and friends, Daje blossoms into a confident, independent young woman. As her graduation nears, Daje struggles with math, yet manages to overcome her obstacle and proudly receives her diploma. She’s persevered pregnant and birthing a child with another alternative schoolmate she felt was nice to her and to whom she could talk with and confide in.

Levine and Van Soest’s focus successfully captures the trajectory of young African-Americans in the North St. Louis ghetto, in my opinion. Footage from Michael Brown’s mother shouting into a camera shows the passion this cultural segment possesses. As Michael Brown graduated high school so did Daje. The tragic life of Michael Brown need not be repeated in Daje’s son Ahkeem. Efforts from community leaders allow troubled youths a way out. But, it’s not a one stop cure all.

 

 

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: The Lost City of Z (Gray, 2016): Ireland

Posted by Larry Gleeson

James Gray directs The Lost City of Z, his adaptation of the David Grann book “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.” A Plan B Production starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland, The Lost City of Z tells the real-life story of Col. Percival “Percy” Fawcett and his search for the existence of a mysterious, sunken metropolis – the City of Z. Along the way, Gray delivers social commentary on the social norms during a time of tremendous scientific and social upheaval.

The film opens with a military social where Percy sees his ambitions diminished as he is classed as having been born with “unfortunate ancestors.” Percy, played by Brit Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) finds climbing the military ranks in 1920’s England a cumbersome ordeal. Seeking promotion and the financial security it will bring, Percy accepts a land surveying mission in Bolivia. Military trained and hardened with discipline, Percy thrives in the harsh environment where others falter.

After the 1911 expedition, Percy returns full of vigor detailing the stories he has heard of the Lost Civilization and having felt remnants of an ancient civilization in his bare hands and acquiesces to going back into the jungle for deeper expeditions to provide a comfortable life for his family. His children are small. His wife capable.  As he reconnects with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller), he stimulates her interest in the lost city and reignites the passion the two had always shared. In a heartfelt moment, Nina proposes they return to the Amazon and find the lost civilization together.

In May of 1912, Percy returns to the Amazon with his expeditionary team leaving Nina to look after the children. Here the filmmaking opens up. The production design becomes quite plush. Director of Photography Darius Khondji frames exquisite jungle shots. The musical score and diagetic sounds from Christopher Spelman complement and enhance the luscious mise-en-scene and aid in the film’s storytelling. The narrative is chronological and carries the film quite well with two diverse settings – the familial setting in Ireland and the expeditionary setting in the Amazon jungle.

Pushing through unmapped territory in the Amazon, the expedition is confronted by a tribe of cannibals preparing for dinner. An already despondent team has had enough of Percy’s ramrodding them deeper and deeper into the unknown where danger seems to be awaiting with each step.

Nevertheless, Percy continues his almost maniacal pursuit citing the military commander’s need for critical information. A ranking member of the team begins sloughing off eventually ruining any chance of continuing the expedition and the team achieving its stated mission. The team is forced to return home much with Percy vowing to return.

The First World War breaks out and all expeditions to the Amazon are put on hold. In combat (trench warfare) Percy suffers from chlorine gas exposure. While recovering, Percy and his son Jack (Tom Holland), now a grown man, reconnect with Jack coming to admire and respect his father immensely. So much so that Jack proposes the two go back to the Amazon and find the Lost City of Z together. Percy makes a bold proposal to the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) on returning to find the Lost City of Z with his son Jack. A stupefied RGS appears dumbfounded as they give Percy approval with his stated stipulations.

Percy and Jack renew the search for the Lost City of Z and what transpires there remains a mystery today. Stories and remnants of truths spontaneously make their way back to Nina indicating Percy and Jack found the Lost City of Z and have chosen to stay there for the time being. Nina never lost hope that Percy and Jack would someday return.

Gray’s The Lost City of Z is a grand tale, well told with strong, compelling acting. Hunnam understands character arc and it’s a viewing treat to watch him unfold and develop the powerful, inner character of Colonel Percival Fawcett. Sienna Miller turns in a masterful performance as the doting, supportive wife, Nina.  Kate Ringsell managed the film’s casting.

The production design is as good as it gets with Production Designer Jean-Vincent Puzos providing breath-taking and often, stunning glimpses of jungle life as well as the enchanting landscape of Ireland.  The Lost City of Z is also a solid period piece with excellent costuming provided by Sonia Grande. Highly recommended film.