Berlinale 2017 Lineup, Round 9
The Forum features work by Heinz Emigholz, the Sensory Ethnographic Lab and more.
The Forum, which the Berlin International Film Festival calls "the most daring section of the Berlinale," has announced 43 titles lined up for its main program. We'll be hearing soon enough about Special Screenings and possible additions to the Forum Expanded program, but for now, with notes from the festival and more added throughout the day, here's the lineup for the 47th edition, running from February 9 through 19.
We begin with four by Heinz Emigholz, all world premieres (WP). 2+2=22 [The Alphabet] documents the recording sessions for the album ABC by electronic music group Kreidler in Tbilisi, Georgia. Bickels [Socialism] examines the architecture of Samuel Bickels, who created numerous kibbutz buildings and museums in Israel. Streetscapes [Dialogue] is a fictionalized dialogue about filmmaking based on the protocols of a mammoth psychoanalysis session and was shot in buildings by Julio Vilamajó, Eladio Dieste and Arno Brandlhuber in Uruguay and Berlin, some of which then pop up again in the final chapter, Dieste [Uruguay].
Adiós entusiasmo (So Long Enthusiasm), directed by Vladimir Durán. WP. Ten-year-old Axel lives with his mother and three sisters in a flat in Buenos Aires. They’d be a perfectly normal family if only the mother weren’t imprisoned in one of the rooms.
At Elske Pia (Loving Pia), Daniel Joseph Borgman. WP. From the Danish Film Institute: "A work of fiction, the film is developed from the life of—and starring—a real woman, Pia, who is intellectually disabled. Pia is 60 years old and she lives in rural Denmark in the care of her mother Guittou, 84. In the story, Guittou is getting old, and Pia worries about what will happen when her mother dies. She is afraid of being left alone. Although Pia has never had a boyfriend, she thinks that she needs to find a man to love in order to survive. Then Pia meets a man called Jens at the harbor. Pia embarks on a quiet and simple relationship with him, not realizing that in the meantime it is her mother who is left alone."
Aus einem Jahr der Nichtereignisse (From a Year of Non-Events), Ann Carolin Renninger and René Frölke. WP. Follows a year in the life of a 90-year-old north German farmer, who lives alone on a rural farmstead.
Autumn, Autumn, Jang Woo-jin. International premiere. From the Busan International Film Festival: "Jihyun attends an interview in Seoul before taking a train back to his hometown of Chuncheon. On the way he sits next to a middle-aged couple. The film soon separates into two stories, one following Jihyun and the other following the couple. Jihyun, dreaming of getting a job in Seoul, falls into despair after failing his interview. Drowning his sorrows with alcohol, he narrowly escapes a dangerous situation thanks to the help of a friend. Together they head aimlessly to Cheongpyeongsa Temple, but he misses the last ride back home and decides to stay the night. The middle-aged couple also head towards Cheongpyeongsa Temple. They open up to each other by recalling memories of their first loves. The night passes like a dream and they get back on the train to Seoul."
Barrage, Laura Schroeder. WP. From Schroeder herself: "After ten years abroad, Catherine returns to Luxembourg, to catch up with her daughter Alba, brought up by Catherine’s mother Elisabeth. Alba is cold and distant with this stranger showing up unexpectedly in her life, so is Elisabeth, keen to keep her protégée to herself. One day, Catherine cannot take it anymore. She kidnaps Alba and takes her on a trip to a lake up North. Begins an unsettling journey into the puzzling world of motherly love, only to find out that sometimes the true opponent is yourself."
Casa Roshell, Camila José Donoso. WP. A portrait of a most unusual institution in the Mexican capital, a place where men learn to be women during the day, before the parties get going at night. All manner of boundaries blur in this tiny utopia: between gay, straight and bi, male and female, past and present, reality and fiction.
Casting, Nicolas Wackerbarth. WP. Director Vera is unwilling to compromise when it comes to finding the right lead actress for a Fassbinder remake for television. Acting assistant Gerwin delivers dialogues with a bevy of famous actresses and soon realizes that this could be his big chance. The film’s starry cast includes Ursina Lardi, Andrea Sawatzki, Corinna Kirchhoff, Judith Engel, Marie-Lou Sellem and many more.
Chemi bednieri ojakhi (My Happy Family), Nana & Simon. From Sundance: "As family and friends gather in a Tbilisi apartment to celebrate her 52nd birthday, Manana calmly packs a suitcase and, to her guests’ bewilderment, announces she’s leaving. A literature professor and wife of 30 years, she’s shared a three-bedroom flat with her husband, Soso; her parents; two grown children; and son-in-law. And she’s had enough. Moving to a new apartment, she starts afresh, and has never been happier. Attempting to avoid the family drama that follows her, she nonetheless forms a surprising new attachment to a man she meets in secret—Soso."
Cuatreros (Rustlers), Albertina Carri. IP. Examines Argentina’s complex recent past: Isidro Velázquez was a bandit and dissident active in the 1960s whose story formed both the basis for a sociology book by her father Roberto Carri and a feature film that is now lost. The director draws on archive images to bring her own biography into alignment with wider historical events.
Dayveon, Amman Abbasi. IP. Tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who has lost direction following the death of his brother, meaning that being initiated into a local gang now appears a necessary step towards becoming a man. Dayveon is a search for brotherhood in an African American community in the rural South. More from Sundance.
Drôles d’oiseaux (Strange Birds), Elise Girard. IP. From KinoElektron: "Mavie, a thirty years old girl, clumsy, beautiful and full of doubts, is looking erratically for her own way. She moves to Paris and meets Georges, an old lonely and cynic librarian, who doesn’t expect a thing from life. Their unexpected and unconventional love relationship will definitely shift Mavie's path in life."
For Ahkeem, Jeremy Levine and Landon Van Soest. WP. Shot in Missouri, focussing on Daje, who lives with her single mother in St. Louis. Like many black teenagers in the neighborhood, she has problems at school, while her everyday life is shaken again and again by the violent deaths of her friends.
Golden Exits, Alex Ross Perry. IP. The story of a young Australian woman who comes to New York for a few months and unwittingly throws the lives of two couples into disarray. With Emily Browning, Adam Horovitz, Mary-Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Jason Schwartzman and Chloë Sevigny. More from Sundance.
Jassad gharib (Foreign Body), Raja Amari. From Urban Distribution International: "Samia has reached France illegally. She first stays with Imed, a friend of her brother’s, but longs for her independence and freedom. She meets Mrs Bertaud, a well-off and recently-widowed woman, who hires her to put her late husband’s things in order. Their professional relationship soon turns into a friendly and intimate bond. The sensual connection they have with each other troubles Imed, torn between his religious beliefs and his sexual desires."
Loktak Lairembee (Lady of the Lake). Haobam Paban Kumar. From the International Film Festival of Kerala: "Loktak Lake is a unique ecosystem where fishermen lived in huts built on floating biomasses. In 2011 the authorities, in the name of protecting serenity of the ecosystem, burnt down the huts leaving thousands of fishermen homeless. Tomba, one of the victims, lives with a harrowing nightmare of looming displacement since then."
Maman Colonelle (Mama Colonel), Dieudo Hamadi. WP. Could well be the film formerly known as Outed Lives.
El mar nos mira de lejos (The Sea Stares at Us from Afar), Manuel Muñoz Rivas. WP.
Menashe, Joshua Z Weinstein. IP. It's set in Borough Park, Brooklyn and is almost entirely in Yiddish. The titular Menashe fights to keep custody of his son following the death of his wife. Yet the Hasidic community demands he lead a more ordered life and find a new spouse, neither of which come easy to this kind, but awkward loner.
Mittsu no hikari (Three Lights), Kohki Yoshida. WP.
Mon rot fai (Railway Sleepers), Sompot Chidgasornpongse. From Busan: "Laborers and travelers are aboard a train in Thailand accompanied by the repetitive sound of running wheels. The train, a symbol of industrialization, is a microcosm of life in Railway Sleepers. Passengers in third class cabins don’t hesitate to expose and share their lives. They look natural when they play broken drums and sing together, mingling on the night train. When the camera approaches upper class cabins—with beds and private rooms—however, people begin to enjoy privacy. There are no passengers in the hallways, and the only thing seen here are the door locks."
Motherland (Bayang Ina Mo), Ramona S. Diaz. IP. The site tell us it'll take us "into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital in one of the world’s poorest and most populous countries: the Philippines. The film’s viewer, like an unseen outsider dropped unobtrusively into the hospital’s stream of activity, passes through hallways, enters rooms and listens in on conversations. At first, the surrounding people are strangers. But as the film continues, it's absorbingly intimate, rendering the women at the heart of the story increasingly familiar."
Motza el hayam (Low Tide), Daniel Mann. WP. From the Israel Film Center: "January 2009. During Operation Cast Lead. While his fellow reservists go back to their families, Yoel (35), rejected by his wife, wanders off to the deserted streets of Tel Aviv. He meets a young French journalist, eager to live her life to the fullest."
Mzis qalaqi (City of the Sun), Rati Oneli. WP. From the filmmaker's site: "The film takes place in Chiatura, Georgia once a thriving mining town that supplied the world’s 50% of finest manganese during the Soviet Union. City of the Sun is a surreal vision of a post-apocalyptic ghost town and its several inhabitants. The lives, dreams and destinies of the characters unfold amidst the grand ruins of once 'glorious' Soviet architectural and technological achievements in a semi-abandoned mining town of Chiatura."
Newton, Amit V Masurkar. WP. In September, the filmmaker told the Indian Express about his "black comedy": "Yes, it’s the journey of a common man who aspires to be someone in life and heads to a jungle infested with Naxals. It’s a really funny story. I’ve been reading a lot of scripts but at the same time am being careful and choosy. Manish Mundra, who’s made Ankhon Dekhi and Masaan, got in touch and as soon as I read it, I knew this was it."
Occidental, Neïl Beloufa. IP. From a profile of the artist in Kaleidoscope: "The issues raised by the plot are a clever metaphorical combination of the ideological debates appearing through his other works—surveillance society, religious and ethical expectations, gender representations—but this time, the dialogues are scripted and the actors are casted professionals. 'I don’t think there is a difference in value between a beautiful mannerist image and a goofy close-up, as I don’t think there is a difference in value between a Robert Bresson movie and NCIS, except that most of Bresson’s movies are good and most NCIS episodes are bad.' This would explain the unapologetic mix of influences that discretely transpire in this new work: from references to Nicholas Ray or Douglas Sirk in the scenery to Alain Resnais in respect to the distantiated stage direction and spontaneity of dialogue, as well as some goofy French teleplay gimmicks echoed in the DIY special effects."
Qiu (Inmates), Ma Li. WP.
Rifle, Davi Pretto. IP. Sets out for the endless plains of the Brazilian south to stage a modern Western there. A taciturn former soldier is employed to guard a small landholder’s estate. But when an agricultural company seeks to buy up the land, he reacts in truly drastic fashion. Emilio Mayorga spoke with Pretto for Variety in December.
Río Verde. El tiempo de los Yakurunas (Green River. The Time of the Yakurunas), Alvaro Sarmiento and Diego Sarmiento. WP. An attentive observation of the daily routines of the indigenous inhabitants of Peru’s Amazon region.
Shu'our akbar min el hob (A Feeling Greater than Love), Mary Jirmanus Saba. WP.
Spell Reel, Filipa César. WP.
Tamaroz (Simulation), Abed Abest. WP. From Cinando: "Three young persons for enjoying their times during weekend are looking for a place in their hometown.They discuss about several cases. Finally, they agree to go to the house of an old man whom they do not have very tight and close relations, and they have already visited him just one time. The old man welcomes them. This party will lead to a tragic catastrophe for them all. Although this party starts good, but at the end they make trouble with each other and finally they quarrel and the police intervenes and tragedy starts."
El teatro de la desaparición (The Theatre of Disappearance), Adrián Villar Rojas. WP. A hypnotic triptych which depicts latent states of war, drawing on sensual images seemingly only tenuously connected that employ disparate styles and jump freely from continent to continent.
Tiere (Animals), Greg Zglinski. WP. Running into a sheep on the road sets off a strange series of events in the lives of Anna and Nick. With Birgit Minichmayr, Philipp Hochmair, Mona Petri, Mehid Nebbou and Michael Ostrowski.
Tigmi n Igren (House in the Fields), Tala Hadid. WP. Screened in Venice in 2015, when the festival told us that it "examines the life of an isolated rural Amazigh community in the south-west region of the High Atlas Mountains. The thousand-year history of the Amazigh in Morocco has been, for the most part, recounted, preserved and transmitted by bards and storytellers in oral form among Tamazight speaking pastoral communities. Tigmi Nigren continues this tradition of transmission, in an audio-visual form, in an attempt to faithfully document and present a portrait of a village and community that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years despite being confronted with the rapidly changing sociopolitical realities of the country at large."
Tinselwood, Marie Voignier. WP. From Les Films du Bilboquet: "Deep in South-East Cameroon, the great primary tropical forest shelters a territory for which colonial powers fought, exploiting through forced labor the prodigious resources of nature. At the heart of this region, the people are now mobilized around an economy of survival—the consequence of this history. In this context, landscapes form the most powerful monuments."
Werewolf, Ashley McKenzie. IP. When it screened in Toronto, Christopher Schobert, writing for the Playlist, called Werewolf "a startling, out-of-nowhere film, and an intoxicating first feature from a rising filmmaker."
Yozora ha itsu demo saikou mitsudo no aoiro da (The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue), Yuya Ishii. WP. From AsianWiki: "In Tokyo, Mika (Shizuka Ishibashi) works as a nurse during the day and at night works at a girl's bar. She meets Shinji (Sosuke Ikematsu) who works as a day laborer. They become attracted to each other."