Tag Archives: Competition

Berlinale FILM REVIEW: Andres Veiel’s ‘Beuys’ is One for the Ages

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Andres Veiel brought the documentary Beuys, an in-depth look into the profound psyche of German performance artist and 1960’s era philosophe, Joseph Beuys, and a co-production from Terz Filmproduktion, Köln, SWR, Baden-Baden, WDR, Köln in cooperation with Arte, to the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Veiel studied directing and dramaturgy at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin under Krzysztof Kieślowski. Some of his other documentary works include Balagan (Berlinale 1994) and Black Box BRD (Black Box Germany, Berlinale 2002). His feature film debut Wer wenn nicht wir (If Not Us, Who) premiered in the Berlinale Competition in 2011 and won the Alfred Bauer Prize.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-34-23-amUtilizing previously unpublished archival video and audio footage, In Beuys Veiel brings light to a man of profound intellectual capacity in the vein of Goethe, Voltaire and Machiavelli. Often derided in his home country of Germany, Joseph Beuys, holds the distinction of being the first German artist to be granted a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. While most contemporaries compare Beuys to another 1960’s era personality, Andy Warhol, Veiel’s Beuys, emerges from a much deeper metaphysical, philosophical framework.

The film is a linear piece. Veiel uses a cookie cutter approach in introducing the viewer to the central character. A Beuys voice-over-narration philosophises on the properties of art while still photos are shown in 3-5 second intervals set to non-diagetic music and sounds.A first real, humanistic impression is of Beuys performing on the street in clown-like fashion drawing attention to himself. Eccentric. Yet quite popular.

From here Veiel moves right into one of the most critical tenants of Beuys’ social outlook with an archival video clip of Beuys on money. Beuys acquiesces he wants to get by and thus money is important. Then, Beuys goes nuclear with “but it’s not part of the revolution.”

Quickly an interesting distinction is made by Veiel as Beuys is commonly referred to as the “Andy Warhol of Germany.”  Warhol, an American pop cultural icon, loved and adored for his flamboyant use of everyday, commonplace items like a Campbell’s soup can to create art, is shown via archival footage stating “every moral situation has the potential to become art.” Beuys, on the other hand is often shown being mocked and derided by the formal press in this documentary, takes Warhol’s statement further into the humanist/social philosophical lineage that “every social situation has the potential to be art.”

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A well-liked teacher, philosopher and Green Party candidate for Prime Minister, Beuys was questioned deeply, just short of being interrogated, over his art and his ideas. One particularly obtuse questioner, posed the query, “Do you consider yourself an artist?” Followed by “Will you use baby buggies in your next art project?” Loud guffaws from the present journalists set the tone for Beuys’ response. With a quiet, reflective voice, Beuys answered that he felt “everyone is an artist.” Facing further derision, Beuys quickly moved his response into a less provocative line of thought with “I mean social art when I say everyone is an artist.” Herein lies the essence of Beuys truth. Beuys profoundly believed in everyone’s unique capacity to move society and culture forward to a more perfect state of being through “the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world that is accessible by direct experience through inner development,” known as anthroposophy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy)

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-29-22-amThroughout the film, Beuys defied and acted against much of what he saw as injustice through his art work seeking a better way and ultimately a better society. With this mindset, Beuys endlessly worked toward a more perfect state. His art and his world views reflected this aim. In one particularly bold art project Beuys promised a planting of 7000 new trees. Using 7000 rock boulders placed in a free space the project began. As a tree was planted a boulder was removed. Veiel uses time lapse via still photos to mark the passage of time as the boulders slowly disappear and new trees are seen being planted. As the project neared completion, however, Beuys’ light began to fade as he called for an end to currency’s dominant role in democracy. Despite his art work being called “the most expensive piece of trash,” Beuys, disciplined and tempered from war wounds, held his ground responding, “Yes, I want to expand people’s consciousness.”

In Beuys, Director Veiel lets the artist speak for himself without outsiders commenting creating an expansive space for the exploration of Beuys’ ideas. Joseph Beuys passed away in 1986. Interestingly, Beuys sweeping concepts of art are still alive and relevant today in Germany’s ongoing social, moral and political debates. The film was presented in black and white with traditional documentary filmmaking techniques including narrative voice-overs, still photography, archival film clips, and present day interviews from primary and secondary sources.

As the film closes, Joseph Beuys emerges as a man of the ages, a thinker beyond his time. Often seen as a revolutionary, Joseph Beuys was seemingly always a mind in touch with the absolute principle behind Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan.” Highly recommended and hands down, my favorite film of the festival.

*All photos courtesy of berlinale.de

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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: Bright Nights (Arslan, 2017) Norway

Posted by Larry Gleeson

German Director Thomas Arslan brings it home with his latest Golden Bear nominated film, Bright Nights (Helle Nachte). Arslan had been previously nominated for the Golden Bear, the festival’s top film prize in 2013 for his film GoldBright Nights, making its world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in Competition, tells the story of a single, working father, Michael,  who reunites with his son, Luis, after the loss of his own father.

Arslan proves he is a master of cinematic language from the opening scene set within an industrial batch plant on a waterway. The image of a plant operator seated at his indoor work station wearing a protective hard hat speaks volumes. The lighting recedes from a medium to high key to low key lighting. The man removes his hard hat and drops his head into his hands exasperated. The scene transitions to the solidly built man walking through the night in profile. Reinhild Blaschke managed the Production Design. Director of Photography Reinhold Vorschneider allows much of the story to unfold with long takes.

Later in the film, after discovering his father has died, the man has opted to bring his son to help remediate his father’s cabin. As Michael is packing up his father’s belonging, a silence ensues where Michael comes to the realization, he doesn’t really know his own son.

With a sense of his own mortality now, Michael seeks to reconnect and re-establish a relationship with Luis. Visually pleasing mise-en-scene depicts scenes of father and son hiking and fishing in breathtaking Austrian locations. However, not everything is perfect in this natural sportsman’s paradise. Luis feels confused and rebels.

The relationship teeters in the balance when an young woman befriends the son and the two share their experiences. The son decides to give his father a second chance. Going for one last hike the father drives for through a gray, fogged in road. The drive goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time signifying the large amount of gray space in the relationship.

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@Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

The film transitions revealing vibrant colors of green and yellow symbolizing a time of joy and healing with a touch of red foreshadowing a powerful element of emotionality is still present. The relationship dynamic between Michael, played by Georg Friedrich and Luis, played by Tristan Göbel drives the narrative. Both actors deliver very compelling performances.

In my opinion, the climatic image comes quickly thereafter, as the son goes off on his own. A wide angle long shot of the man running across a mountain ridge with a large mountain range looming in the background slightly out of focus reminiscent of Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia as he rides solo across the barren Arabian desert. Again, the cinematic language is so much greater than mere words. The lengths the father is willing to go to in order to re-establish the father/son relationship bond is beyond measure. Reinhold Vorschneider served as the film’s Director of Photography.

While there are many father/son relationship dynamic films, there is only one Bright Nights. Highly recommended. A cinematic language extraordinaire.

*Featured photo courtesy of Berlinale.de and @Schramm Film / Marco Kruger

 

 

 

 

The Berlin New Compass Perspektive Award Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

BEST FILM IN THE PROGRAM GOES TO ADRIAN GOIGINGER

On Friday, February 17, the jury members – filmmakers Feo Aladag, Sigrid Hoerner, and Johannes Naber – presented the 2017 Compass Perspektive Award for Best Film. Awarded for the first time this year and endowed with EUR 5,000, the prize goes to the fiction film Die Beste aller Welten by Adrian Goiginger. The trophy is a small compass conceived to provide orientation and direction to a new generation of Perspektive filmmakers.

The jury members watched the 14 films in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino section. After debating passionately, they picked their favorite.

Jury statement – The Best of All Worlds
The film is the story of seven-year-old Adrian, who lives in 1990s Salzburg with a heroin-addicted, but loving mother and her friends. His life is like an adventure playground – until both child services and the brutal reality of drug addiction threaten to destroy his world.

Director Adrian Goiginger’s film is based on his own childhood and is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the seemingly hopeless battle between maternal love and addiction. Goiginger leaves open to interpretation whether it is the drug itself, or society’s way of dealing with it, that presents a greater threat to the child protagonist.

With his sensitive direction of a brilliant ensemble cast, the film is touching without becoming kitschy; the unpretentious cinematography gets under your skin without being voyeuristic.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)