Berlinale 2017 Lineup, Round 8
And the first films slated for Berlin Critics' Week.
The Berlin International Film Festival has been rolling out more of its lineup for the 67th edition, running from February 9 through 19, and we'll get to that, but first: Berlin Critics’ Week, now in its third year, has announced its first round of titles. Following the conference Lost in Politics on February 8, the program will open on February 9 with Eduardo Williams's The Human Surge and feature Feng Xiaogang's I Am Not Madame Bovary (click the titles for reviews).
This year's series of seven screenings and debates will also feature the world premiere of Mike Ott's California Dreams, "a semi-fictional journey against the backdrop of the Californian landscape, almost leading its main character to Germany. The latter’s motivation: a film shoot in Berlin, a hope for new directions. Like some of Ott’s earlier works, California Dreams is inspired by the longtime friendship between the director and the protagonist Cory Zacharia."
Abba Makama's Green White Green "will be discussed in relation to Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme, the most recent short by French director Bertrand Bonello… Makama reflects upon past and present realities of his country in a portrait of three emerging artists. His film is a satirical take on Nollywood, whereby the sheer joy and starry-eyed cinephilia make everything fall into place: African and American pop culture, Nigerian past and tradition. Bonello’s film, in turn, is haunted by the ghosts of US history. The memories of a gun maker’s wife are re-enacted in a strict choreography."
Back to the Berlinale. First, a Special TEDDY Award will be presented to Monika Treut, who "has not only left her mark on feminist and lesbian cinema since the 1980s—she has also had a great impact on the German-speaking independent film scene and inspired practitioners and audiences alike all the way into world of US American indie cinema as a trailblazer for the New Queer Cinema."
Back in December, the first titles slated for the Panorama section were revealed, including six to be screened as part of Panorama Dokumente. That program is now complete. The festival's also announced the titles set for NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema, this year focusing on the Arctic, and Culinary Cinema programs. The new titles with notes from the festival…
Belinda, directed by Marie Dumora. World premiere. The Yenish people have occupied a difficult position in the national fabric of Europe since time immemorial: like the Sinti and Roma, they typically have trouble aligning themselves as they are legally and socially excluded by majority populations. The grandparents of 15-year-old sisters Belinda and Sabrina first met in a German concentration camp—the young women were placed in foster care at an early age and were lucky to land in the La Nichée children’s home. With the start of life comes the start of a long struggle with the world—a world also determined by limits and rules on this most diverse of all continents.
Bones of Contention, Andrea Weiss. World premiere. In search of the earthly remains of iconic Spanish poet and fascist murder victim Federico García Lorca, the filmmaker stumbles upon the entirely unexamined history of the suppression of the LGBT community under Franco, while also becoming familiar with the struggles of today’s movement, whose efforts to procure some sort of long overdue justice for the hundreds of thousands who were “disappeared” during the fascist era are met with little support.
Chavela, Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi. With Chavela Vargas and Pedro Almodóvar. World premiere. An homage to the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, whose exceptional talent carried her to the world’s most notable concert halls, and whose independence and prodigious sacrifice in her life as a lesbian testified to an admirable attitude that stayed with her to a ripe old age. The last concert of this lover of Frida Kahlo, which took place under the patronage of Pedro Almodóvar (who has featured her music consistently in his films), was an homage performed in Madrid to the great gay Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.
Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht (If I Think of Germany at Night), Romuald Karmakar. World premiere. Shows the development of the music genres in question in the here and now, by enabling us to watch and listen to notable DJs while they work, including Ricardo Villalobos, Sonja Moonear, Ata Macias, Roman Flügel and Move D/David Moufang.
Dream Boat, Tristan Ferland Milewski. World premiere. About a cruise exclusively for gay men. A society completely devoid of heteros, who normally rule the world, and completely devoid of women too: by purging the majority the minority becomes one. Many of the guests come from countries where simply being the way they are exposes them to serious danger: a concentrated form of existence is the result here, which represents a challenge beyond the purely physical for the participants.
Erase and Forget, Andrea Luka Zimmerman. World premiere. The all-American hero, the most highly decorated soldier of all time with hundreds of human lives on his conscience, roams like a benevolent patriarch through Idaho, where the people are proud of the high level of diversity in the available flavors of right-wing radicalism, just another normal part of life out here.
Fünf Sterne (Five Stars), Annekatrin Hendel. World premiere. Hendel spends four existential weeks in a seaside hotel with a close female friend. The two women’s conversations revolve around the often glamorous past in East Berlin, the current struggle with a diagnosis—and how our life plans relate to our actual lives.
Istiyad Ashbah (Ghost Hunting), Raed Andoni. World premiere. In the scope of shooting for a film, a group of ex-prisoners from Israeli detention re-enact a sort of exhaustive catalogue of their experiences, in role plays and often in what borders on trauma therapy. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced things like this in a variety of forms—what impact will these experiences have on the affected societies in the future?
Mein wunderbares West-Berlin (My Wonderful West Berlin), Jochen Hick. World premiere. An account of queer living situations in West Berlin in an era when emancipation had yet to be invented, primarily covering the 1960s to the the 1980s but also taking time to revisit the roots of the gay rights movement in the immediate post-war period.
No Intenso Agora (In the Intense Now), João Moreira Salles. World premiere. Juxtaposes a cornucopia of archive materials documenting the events which unfolded in Paris in 1968 with amateur footage showing the suppression of the Prague Spring and footage of a self-confident Chinese society under Mao, just as his mother experienced it back then—as a private political reflection.
El Pacto de Adriana (Adriana's Pact), Lissette Orozco. World premiere. The director accidentally comes across indications that her once favorite aunt Adriana colluded actively with the secret service back in the days of the Pinochet junta. Her research yields a picture that can be found after the fall of every dictatorship ever: those that lived well under the terror regime steadfastly deny their involvement after the winds have shifted. A macrocosm opens up within a family’s intimate history—and no one knew nothing.
Revolution of Sound. Tangerine Dream, Margarete Kreuzer. With Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann, Christoph Franke and Johannes Schmoelling. World premiere. Devoted to the story of the band and their influential, world famous music.
Strong Island, Yance Ford. International premiere. The director processes the murder of his own brother 25 years ago in a documentary film by equal turns personal and political, in a formally open examination of racist terror, grief work and smoldering anger about inequality.
Tahqiq fel djenna (Investigating Paradise), Merzak Allouache. International premiere. In order to try to fathom the origins of the desire for death exhibited by so many young Arab men in Algeria, one must understand that they are motivated by the florid fairy tales that their spiritual leaders have led them to believe, including above all the notion that sex and wine will finally be available in abundance after death. The young Algerian journalist Nedjma researches the paradise that Salafist preachers promise young men together with her colleague Mustapha. A dense analysis of the extreme manifestations of a destructive, conservative Islam that seeks to dominate.
Tania Libre, Lynn Hershman Leeson. With Tania Bruguera and Frank Ochberg. Spoken by Tilda Swinton. World premiere. Accompanies Cuban artist Tania Bruguera during sessions with trauma therapist Dr. Frank Ochberg. After having served a sentence for treason meted out in the wake of a performance that expressed criticism of the regime, she wants to acquire the skills necessary to process the invasive infringement wrought by the paranoid machinery of the people’s dictatorship, including the revocation of her right to practice her art. The founder of the Institute for Artivism Hannah Arendt in Havana intends to campaign in Cuba’s next presidential election in 2018.
24 Snega (24 Snow), Mikhail Barynin. Documentary. International premiere. Despite the sacrifices it entails, Sergei passionately devotes his life to traditional horse breeding, toughing out the winter in the taiga like a lone cowboy hero. Spectacular cinematography conveys the biting cold feeling of nomadic life in Sakha.
Angry Inuk, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Documentary. A vivid depiction of the quiet anger of a people whose very subsistence is being threatened from many angles. An outcry to reassess the preconceptions around commercial seal-hunting, while illustrating the role of global sealskin trade for Inuit.
Johogoi Aiyy (God Johogoi), Sergei Potapov. Documentary. International premiere. The young horse herder Johogoi feels summoned by the equine deity to attend the celebrated summer festival of Sakha. His excitement radiates through his smile as he participates in the rituals, believing he will find the woman who appears in his dreams.
Jumalan morsian (A Bride of the Seventh Heaven), Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio. With Angelina Saraleta, Viktoria Hudi, Ljuba Filipova and Jevgeni Hudi. At birth, Syarda was promised as a bride to Num, the highest god of the Nenets. Now an elderly lady, still bound to this fate, she tells the story of her wistful, yet self-determined life to a blind young girl who alleviates her loneliness.
Kniga Tundry. Povest' o Vukvukaye - Malen'kom Kamne. (The Tundra Book. A Tale of Vukvuka - the Little Rock), Aleksei Vakhrushev. Documentary. Jovial and as energetic as a teenager, the wise Vukvukai guides his nomadic Chukchi community. These tough reindeer herders survive in their snowy wonderland despite the harsh threats posed by the weather and Russian politics.
Kuun metsän Kaisa (Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest), Katja Gauriloff. Documentary. The Swiss author Robert Crottet visits the Skolt Sámi and records spirited Kaisa’s unique storytelling gift. Handmade animation and rare archival footage illustrate the full world of the Skolt Sámi, from magical moments to the hardships of war.
Maliglutit (Searchers), Zacharias Kunuk. With Benjamin Kunuk, Jocelyne Immaroitok, Karen Ivalu and Joseph Uttak. European premiere. The tranquil life of a nomadic family in Nunavut is torn apart by a marauding gang of hunters looking for wives. Kuanana, the head of the family, goes out for revenge. A poetic Inuit Western.
Sameblod (Sami Blood), Amanda Kernell. With Lene Cecilia Sparrok, Mia Erika Sparrok, Maj Doris Rimpi and Julius Fleischanderl. A teenage girl from a traditional Sámi family yearns to be accepted by the Swedish society of the 1930s, a society full of prejudice and discrimination against her people. A shrewd commentary on institutionalized abuse and its consequences.
Seitsemän laulua tundralta (Seven Songs from the Tundra), Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio. With Vitalina Hudi, Hatjako Yzangi, Gregory Anaguritsi and Nadezhda Volodeeva. A rich contemplation of the Nenets in a seven-part chronicle, each guided by a meaningful song. Once a free people, the Soviet rule arrives to infringe upon their culture, affecting their identity irreversibly. An emotional political statement.
SUME - Mumisitsinerup Nipaa (SUMÉ - The Sound of a Revolution), Inuk Silis Høegh. Documentary. For the Greenlanders of the 1970s, the surge of the progressive rock band SUME was mind-blowing: lyrics in their own language, inspiring them to act against the repression of their people. This is the compelling testimony to their revolution.
Bihttoš (Rebel), Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. Documentary. In a poignant personal essay, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers examines her complex relationship to her Sámi father. Her family’s blissful life was silently affected by a dark pain her father harbored. A pain rooted in past injustices against a whole generation of the Sámi.
Half&half, Aka Hansen. Documentary. Hansen ponders her mixed heritage by posing well-struck questions about how others perceive her, which in contrast to the filmic symmetry suggests that identity cannot be split neatly in half.
Nowhere Land, Rosie Bonnie Ammaaq. Documentary. Denied the opportunity to lead a true Inuit life on Baffin Island, Rosie Bonnie Ammaaq shares the grief she felt when forced to relocate, while witnessing the heartbreaking demise of her homeland. She stands in front of the camera and bares her soul.
Ogo Kuyuurduu Turara (Boy and Lake), Prokopyi Nogovitsyn. With Slava Titov, Roman Danilov and Vladimir Krivoshapkin. A Sakha boy sets out on a lyrical journey through the boreal forest to catch fish in a secluded icebound lake. He performs the laborious task as a meditative ritual, at the same time drifting into a magical oneiric world.
Sámi Boddu (Sámi Moment), Ken Are Bongo. With Nils Henrik Buljo and Svein Birger Olsen. Surrounded only by the wintry tundra, two Sámi men meet and contemplate the immense horizon. The silence is scarcely broken by the soft breeze, shared cigarettes and a few laconic words.
Sikumi (On the Ice), Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. With Brad Weyiouanna, Tony Bryant and Olemaun Rexford. On the frozen barren horizon, Apuna spots a furious fight between two hunters, which escalates to a fatality. As Apuna rushes to the scene he becomes conflicted when the perpetrator asks him to bend his morals and appeals to his sense of community.
Sloth, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. With Bryan Pearson. A witty sketch of the Inuit way of life, playfully poking fun at stereotypical perceptions.
Tungijuq. Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël. With Tanya Tagaq and Zacharias Kunuk. An artistically powerful statement about the reality of hunting, expressed through a fantastic icy universe and Inuit throat singing, embracing the relevance and appreciation of this vital act.
Vor dem Schnee (Before the Snow), Christian Vagt. Documentary. Eerie first-hand accounts of the supernatural and the dead in the world of the Khanty and Nenets. An intimate atmosphere encompasses the spiritual world void of interpretation, and tells of the mysteries beyond the reality of western Siberia.
André – The Voice of Wine, Mark Tchelistcheff. Documentary. World premiere. We learn that vines have to suffer to bear quality grapes. This knowledge from viniculture is, in a figurative sense, also true of André Tchelistcheff, an oenologist who emigrated from Russia. In the 1930s, after the end of Prohibition, he helped re-establish winemaking in California.
Atlantic, Risteard Ó Domhnaill. Documentary. German premiere. Examines how it was possible that the fish population of the vast North Atlantic was almost wiped out and the ecosystem destroyed.
At The Fork, John Papola. Documentary. International premiere. Should we eat animals or just pet them?
Boone, Christopher LaMarca. Documentary. German premiere. Three young farmers from Oregon have a dilemma: they may milk their goats but are not allowed to sell the milk.
Chef’s Table - Jeong Kwan, David Gelb. Documentary series. World premiere. Takes us to Korea, to the kitchen of a hermitage where Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan prepares temple food.
Chef’s Table - Tim Raue, Abigail Fuller. Documentary series. World premiere. Raue tells how he succeeded in turning the negative energies of his youth into positive ones by cooking.
Hand.Line.Cod., Justin Simms. Short documentary.
Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, Laura Dunn. Documentary. European premiere.
Monsieur Mayonnaise, Trevor Graham. Documentary. International premiere. Accompanies painter and filmmaker Philippe Mora who is researching his family’s eventful past. His father, Georges Mora alias Monsieur Mayonnaise fought in the Résistance. After the war he moved to Australia and founded an artist colony.
Schumanns Bargespräche (Schumann’s Bar Talks), Marieke Schroeder. Documentary. World premiere. Accompanies legendary barkeeper Charles Schumann to the world’s best bars.
Soul, Ángel Parra and José Antonio Blanco. Documentary. World premiere. The film’s protagonist Eneko Atxa runs a restaurant complex near Bilbao in the Basque region. His exploration of the soul of cooking has him traveling to famous colleagues in Catalonia and Japan.
Theater of Life, Peter Svatek. Documentary. German premiere. Shows how highly celebrated chef Massimo Bottura sets up a soup kitchen in Milan that cooks meals made from discarded food.