A RECORD-BREAKING 14,259 SUBMISSIONS FROM 152 COUNTRIES
For the 2019 Festival, slated to run January 24th through February 3rd, 2019, 112 feature-length films were selected from a record high of 14,259 submissions including 4,018 feature-length films, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. Of the feature film submissions, 1,767 were from the U.S. and 2,251 were international; 31% were directed by one or more women; 38% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 11% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. 24 films are supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. In addition, 102 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup, will be world premieres.
The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, held each January in and around Park City, Utah. Presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances, cutting-edge media installations, and engaging community programs, the Festival is known for bringing together the most original storytellers of our time.
Robert Redford, pictured below, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, recently said this about storytellers,
“Society relies on storytellers.
The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience.
This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment.
In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”
Supported by the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Sundance Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Trouble the Water, and Central Station and, through its New Frontier initiative, has brought the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney.
In 2018, the Festival drew 124,900 attendees from 49 U.S. states and 26 other countries, generated $191.6 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 3,323 local jobs.
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 23 – February 2, 2020.
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.
Utilizing 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.”
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)
Throughout 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.
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.
HALLE BERRY, JAMIE DORNAN, CHRIS EVANS, GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, DAKOTA JOHNSON, KATE MCKINNON, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, HAILEE STEINFELD WILL BE PRESENTERS ONSTAGE
LOS ANGELES, CA – Producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd today announced the second slate of presenters for the 89th Oscars® telecast. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live on Sunday, February 26, on the ABC Television Network.
“These actors are why we love to go to the movies,” said De Luca and Todd. “From blockbusters to art house films, these artists deliver every time and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the 89th Oscars stage.”
The presenters, including past Oscar® winners and nominees, are Halle Berry, Jamie Dornan, Chris Evans, Gael García Bernal, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Dakota Johnson, Shirley MacLaine, Kate McKinnon and Hailee Steinfeld.
Berry won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “Monster’s Ball” (2001). Her feature credits also include “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014), “Cloud Atlas” (2012), “Frankie & Alice” (2010), “X-Men The Last Stand” (2006), “X2” (2003), “Die Another Day” (2002) and “X-Men” (2000). She will next appear in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “Kings.”
Dornan’s film credits include “Fifty Shades Darker” (2017), “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015) and the Oscar-winning film “Marie Antoinette” (2006). Additionally, he has appeared in “Anthropoid” (2016) and “The Siege of Jadotville” (2016). His upcoming films include “Fifty Shades Freed,” “Robin Hood” and “Untogether.”
Evans is known for “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and the Oscar-nominated features “Captain America: The Winter Solider” (2014) and “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012). His film credits also include “The Iceman” (2013), “Puncture” (2011), “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010) and “Fantastic Four” (2005). Evans will next appear in “Gifted,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Jekyll.”
García Bernal’s credits include the Oscar-winning films “Babel” (2006) and “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004) as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Y Tu Mamá También” (2001) and “Amores Perros” (2000). Additionally, he has appeared in “Neruda” (2016), “Desierto” (2016) and “Bad Education” (2004). His upcoming films include “Z” and the animated feature “Coco.”
Jackson earned an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role for “Pulp Fiction” (1994). Notably, he also appeared in the Oscar-winning films “The Hateful Eight” (2015), “Django Unchained” (2012) and “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). Jackson will next appear in “Kong: Skull Island,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “The Incredibles 2” and “Inversion.”
Johansson appeared in the Oscar-winning features “Her” (2013), “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008) and “Lost in Translation” (2003) as well as the Oscar-nominated films “Iron Man 2” (2010), “Match Point” (2005) and “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (2003). Her credits also include “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and “Lucy” (2014). Johansson will next be seen in “Ghost in the Shell,” “Rock That Body” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Johnson’s credits include “Fifty Shades Darker” (2017), “Fifty Shades of Gray” (2015) and the Oscar-winning feature “The Social Network” (2010). Her other credits include “How to Be Single” (2016), “A Bigger Splash” (2015) and “Black Mass” (2015). Johnson will next appear in “Fifty Shades Freed” and “Suspiria.”
MacLaine won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “Terms of Endearment” (1983). Additionally, she garnered nominations for her leading roles in “The Turning Point” (1977), “Irma La Douce” (1963), “The Apartment” (1960) and “Some Came Running” (1958). She also received a Documentary Feature nomination for “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir” (1975). Her notable credits also include “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013), “Bernie” (2012), “The Evening Star” (1996), “Postcards from the Edge” (1990) and “Steel Magnolias” (1989). MacLaine will next appear in “The Last Word.”
McKinnon’s feature credits include “Ghostbusters” (2016), “Masterminds” (2016), “Office Christmas Party” (2016) and the animated features “The Angry Birds Movie” (2016) and “Finding Dory” (2016). In addition, she has appeared in “Sisters” (2015) and “Ted 2” (2015). McKinnon will appear next in “Rock That Body.”
Steinfeld received an Oscar nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role for “True Grit” (2010). Her recent credits include “The Edge of Seventeen” (2016), “Ten Thousand Saints” (2015), “Barely Lethal” (2015), “Pitch Perfect 2” (2015), “Begin Again” (2014), “The Homesman” (2014) and “Ender’s Game” (2013). Steinfeld will next appear in “Pitch Perfect 3.”
The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m.
ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by De Luca and Todd and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, also will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
# # #
ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.
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):
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.
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.
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)
By Naoko Ogigami
3rd place Panorama Audience Award Fiction Film 2017 1945
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
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
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.
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 TheLost 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. TheLost City of Z is also a solid period piece with excellent costuming provided by Sonia Grande. Highly recommended film.
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 Gold. Bright 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 theProduction 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.
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
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.