Tag Archives: creativity

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screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-5-34-23-amUtilizing previously unpublished archival video and audio footage, In Beuys Veiel brings light to a man of profound intellectual capacity in the vein of Goethe, Voltaire and Machiavelli.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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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):

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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)

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)

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Ana, mon amour (Netzer, 2017): Romania

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Călin Peter Netzer returns to the Berlinale Competition, having captured the Golden Bear in 2013 with his low budget, digitally shot, Mutter & Sohn, a mother-son relationship piece. Netzer’s entry this year, another relationship piece, is Ana, mon amour, starring Diana Cavallioti, as Ana, and Mircea Postelnicu as Toma. Ana, mon amour is a story of two young people who meet at the university and begin a co-committed love affair full of hopes and dreams. Each feels mutually supported.

Opening in tight framing, Netzer introduces us to Ana and Toma discussing Friedrich Nietzsche and Adolph Hitler. Panic ensues for Ana. Toma caresses her belly and the two become intimate partners. Director of Photography Andrei Butică delivers highly crafted frames representing the closeness and intimacy Ana and Toma share.

As the relationship evolves the episodes continue until medication is used and then reconsidered with psychoanalytic therapy. Along the way we meet both sets of parents and discover root causes for the affective emotionality Ana and Toma exhibit and experience.

Netzer shows Ana’s struggles and Toma’s attempts to cope with exquisite, tender and emotive close ups. In, addition Netzer incorporates the use of extended narrative flashbacks as Toma is participating in on-going, regular psychoanalytic therapy sessions.

In addition, Netzer addresses racial and social bias in Romanian society. Each visits the other’s parents home. Taking a cue from Milos Forman’s The Loves of a Blonde (1965) Netzer gives an up-close and introspective view exploring in seemingly real-time these racial and social biases. Afterwards, the two begin to isolate themselves from their families and friends. Moving into more graphic detail, Netzer effectively shows Ana unravelling and Toma’s increasing frustration at his own inability to stabilize her.

Eventually, Toma succumbs to the stress from Ana’s anxiety and walks away from his career becoming a stay-at-home husband/father as the two have chosen to embark on parenthood. Ana has now become the sole breadwinner. Unsure of herself at first, Ana begins therapy with a competent psychologist finding an inner strength from the insights and support she garners from her sessions. Toma feels left out and the relationship comes to a head.

In Ana, non amour, Netzer delves into some rather deep and heady territory including dream interpretation as it relates to psychoanalysis. The film’s narrative is strongly driven by Andrei Butică (Director of Photography) camera work and dynamic editing from Dana Bunescu (Editor) in revealing the multi-faceted aspects and multi-faceted complexities of relationship in a most intimate space. Bunescu would go on to win the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in the categories camera, editing, music score, costume or set design. That being said, the actors more than hold their own.

But above all, In Ana, non amour, Netzer delivers a profound dramatic presentation on mental illness, how it’s overcome and the toll it takes on an adult, romantic relationship. Netzer delves into some rather deep and heady territory including dream interpretation as it relates to psychoanalysis revealing the complex psychological affects due to repression related to Romanian societal taboos.

 

 

Berlinale FILM CAPSULE: Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017) China

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

Liu Jian mortgages the house to make films! Chinese artist/filmmaker Liu Jian delighted the house at the Berlinale Palast Theater during the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

Utilizing a warm color palette and an exceptional musical score mixing classical American jazz with traditional Chinese sounds, Liu Jian takes the viewer on a colorful journey through a southern Chinese city drawing several people from diverse backgrounds with different motives into bloody conflict in the darkly comedic, animation feature film, Have a Nice Day.  But wait, there’s more!

Have a Nice Day is Liu Jian second foray into feature animation film. His first Piercing I, a cold, hard look at the 2008 global financial crisis. Liu Jian is now in production on his third film, a self-reflective animation feature, School Town, an autobiographical look at Liu Jian’s own life.

In Have a Nice Day, Liu Jian allows a bag containing a million yuan to take center stage. Greed and selfish motives take over. The gangster boss who lays claim to the bagful of yuan holds court and wistfully recalls days from future past while pontificating to a subordinate who has spunk and maintains he’s an artist. Some philosophical discourse takes place on what exactly constitute art and who can call themselves a true artist. The bag has been lost and/or stolen and a butcher/hitman is sent to recover the money-laden bag.

The bag representing progress continues to move from one point to another. Various, vicarious and unsuspecting, dialoguing individuals reveal social and moral issues issues while clutching the bag of money tightly in hopes of securing a better life. In the end, it’s all just an illusory pipe dream fantasy.

Nevertheless, Modern China is in flux and a real war for control is ripe with violence and dangerous activities. With the animation format, Liu Jian is adeptly able to circumvent and soften some of the more distasteful aspects of this movement toward progress while heightening and stylizing the mood in China today.

Along the way, Liu Jian adds some subtle Western influences as he develops nuances of character. For example, the Hitman is a butcher when he’s not working for the mob boss. To add depth to the butcher, Liu Jian inserts a Rocky movie poster starring Sylvester Stallone on the Hitman’s locker at the meat processing plant.

In recent time, much is made of China’s growing economic power and goal of world dominance and, by the film’s end, one of the film’s protagonists, the Hitman, laments, “without high-technologies we just can’t win.” The film closes with an earthy mise-en-scene as a large city-scape with shades of browns and grays sits silently while a long, steady rain cascades across the screen in a vertical fashion.

Another beautiful film in the Berlinale Competition. While Chinese animation short films have been in previous Berlinales, Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day, is the first feature-length, Chinese animation film to be screened at a Berlinale. It’s a touching expose. And, it’s a worthy contender for the Golden Bear. Warmly recommended.

*Featured photo: Courtesy of Liu Jian/Berlinale.de

 

 

 

BERLINALE TALENTS 2017: COURAGE IN ACTION!

Posted by Larry Gleeson.

The 15th edition of Berlinale Talents was rounded off yesterday by Berlinale International Jury member and artist Olafur Eliasson as well as director Raoul Peck, who is at the festival this year with the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro (Panorama) and Le jeune Karl Marx (Berlinale Special). During the last six days, over 100 experts, 250 Talents and well over 6,000 visitors turned HAU Hebbel am Ufer into an international hub of discussion and networking for film lovers.

 

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Prof. Monika Gruttes, the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media (Photo via monika-grutters.de)

“Once again, this year’s Berlinale Talents proves to be the festival’s innovation lab. Where else can young filmmakers and experienced experts from every culture, country and profession have such open, inspiring exchange and collaborate on bringing new films to life? I wish these Talents success as they turn their ideas into reality. And above all: Have courage!” said the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Prof. Monika Grütters, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Berlinale Talents.

 

 

Courageous Mutual Exchange

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-9-48-23-pmIn a time of political and social upheaval, this year’s theme has been a call to take a clear stance on cinematic narratives and aesthetics as well as a reminder against discouragement to rally our optimism and work together to bring about change. Throughout over 100 events and workshops, Talents discussed and worked with renowned experts and mentors, including Paul Verhoeven and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christo, Agnieszka Holland, Ana Lily Amirpour, Isabel Coixet, Andres Veiel, Gurinder Chadha, Laura Poitras, Timothy Spall and many more.

Sunday’s opening panel, with this year’s Berlinale International Jury President Paul Verhoeven and Berlinale International Jury member Maggie Gyllenhaal set the tone for this year’s edition. “Be courageous and step into the unknown,” was Paul Verhoeven’s encouragement for the Talents. Christo, in his 90-minute discussion with the audience, called for creative work to be based in real contexts: “The most important thing of all our work is that it is about real things: real wind, real wet, real dry, real fear.” The days to come were a journey towards discovering personal, creative and filmic moments of courage. Talents alumna Ana Lily Amirpour, who returned this year as an expert, summed up what makes Berlinale Talents so special: “I loved it here when I came in 2010, and I still feel the same. It’s invigorating to be around so many people from everywhere in the world who are just madly in love with their ideas.”

Prizes during Berlinale Talents

Once again, prizes were awarded to filmmakers during Berlinale Talents.

As part of the “Talent Project Market,” the VFF Talent Highlight Award, endowed with € 10,000, went to the project The Bus to Amerika by producer Nefes Polat and director Derya Durmaz (Turkey). Cash prizes of €1,000 each were awarded to the Cuban producer Maria Carla del Rio and the Singaporean producer Jeremy Chua for their nominated projects.

For the fifth time, the Robert Bosch Stiftung awarded during Berlinale Talents film prizes to promote international cooperation between German and Arab filmmakers, endowed with up to € 60,000 each.

Animation: Night by director Ahmad Saleh (Jordan) and producers Jessica Neubauer (Germany) and Saleh Saleh (Jordan)

Short Film: The Trap by director Nada Riyadh (Egypt) and producers Eva Schellenbeck (Germany) and Ayman El Amir (Egypt)

Documentary: Behind Closed Doors (Mor L’Bab) by director Yakout Elhababi (Morocco) and producers Karoline Henkel (Germany) and Hind Sah (Morocco / France)

Co-Partner Nespresso kicked off the vertical video contest “Nespresso Talents 2017” during Berlinale Talents. The competition is open for entries until April 17, 2017, at nespresso.com/talents. Winners will be officially announced during the Cannes Film Festival and receive a cash prize and participation in a mentoring programme.

And tonight, Berlinale Talents and Perspektive Deutsches Kino will jointly award the inaugural Kompagnon-Fellowship during the closing evening of Perspektive Deutsches Kino.

For press information and interview requests please contact:

Malte Mau

Phone +49.30.259 20.518
Fax +49.30.259 20.534

Berlinale Talents is an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Film Board.

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(Source: Berlinale Press Office)