Berlinale 2022: 'Nelly & Nadine' is a Touching Doc Film About History
"Nothing is real until it’s socially expressed." Telling stories about people long gone can change the world. One of the best documentaries from the 2022 Berlin Film Festival is this discovery - Nelly & Nadine made by Swedish filmmaker Magnus Gertten. The film delves into World War II history to tell the story of two women who met at a concentration camp during the war and fell in love, spending their lives together in Venezuela after their camp was liberated. It's a remarkable story, not only that they could find each other and fall in love, but that they made it out alive and were able to live together after the war. It's a wonderfully touching film, sensitive and compassionate as it explores their story and connects with relatives that are still alive today. Even though it's far from perfect, there's no way this film won't move you to tears at some point or another. And these kind of films are the ones that will stay with you far beyond all the film festival buzz.
› Posted on February 20 in Berlinale, Documentaries, Review | Comments
Berlinale 2022: Meltem Kaptan in 'Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush'
Now that it has been 21 years since 9/11, more and more films are being made about the aftermath of this tragedy – including the way America responded with torture and heinous decisions in an attempt to punish everyone responsible. Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush is another film that digs into the same kind of story as the one told in The Mauritanian, about one innocent individual who was (illegally) locked up for years in Guantanamo Bay by the US over exaggerated suspicions that were never proven. There have been a growing number of films about Guatananmo and how horrible this place is, between Camp X-Ray, and even Paul Schrader's The Card Counter (which dips into this in an unusual way). Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush premiered at the Berlin Film Festival (where it won two awards) and tells the story of a Turkish man from Germany who was sent to Guantanamo, while his mother spent years and years fighting to get him out.
› Posted on February 17 in Berlinale, Review | 1 Comment
Berlinale 2022 Awards: 'Alcarràs' from Catalonia Wins Golden Bear
The 72nd Berlin Film Festival (also known as Berlinale locally) has started wrapping up after a week, and the winners of the festival awards were revealed on Wednesday at an small event in Berlin, including the winner of the coveted Golden Bear (Goldener Bär) for Best Film. That top prize from this year was given to a Catalonian drama about a family of peach farmers titled Alcarràs, directed by Carla Simón. The fest returned to a full-on, in-person event in 2022, after shifting temporarily online last year (plus a summer series). And unfortunately it's a rather rotten year. The festival didn't have many good films at all to feature, nothing but mediocre premieres. While I'm happy about Alcarràs, it is one of the best films in a very weak competition line-up. This fest seems to have missed all the other good ones. Full list of 2022 winners below.
› Posted on February 16 in Awards, Berlinale, Movie News | Comments
Berlinale 2022: Dupieux's Latest Kooky Comedy 'Incredible But True'
Another amazing, amusing "incredible but true" film from the one-and-only filmmaker Quentin Dupieux! After premiering Mandibles in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Dupieux is back with another small time, kooky comedy called Incredible But True, originally known as Incroyable Mais Vrai in French. This new film is a commentary on getting older, focusing on one couple and their friends and what happens when they move into a new house and discover its secret. Dupieux makes the best kind of lighthearted, humorous indie cinema. It's hard to explain what it is about his filmmaking that I enjoy so much. His films are always light and wacky and funny and entirely original - there's no one else telling these stories in this way with this kind of quirky humor. Even if he's not making the most brilliant films, they're still entertaining and riotous.
› Posted on February 13 in Berlinale, Review | Comments
Berlinale 2021: A Film Festival Held Outside is Just What We Needed
Is there a safe way to still host in-person screenings at a film festival in the middle of a pandemic? That's the question that has been on the mind of every last film festival all over the world. But there is one solution – hosting outdoor "open air" screenings with social distanced seating (or drive-in screenings in places where most people have cars). The Berlin Film Festival usually takes place in February every year, but this year they had to cancel their main event, as the third wave of the COVID-19 was taking over the city at the time. However, the festival eventually came up with an interesting plan: allow the press and industry access to a simple digital screening system in February to watch most of the line-up. Then follow-up in June during the summer with outdoor screenings of ALL of the films for the public. This worked like a charm. I caught two films during the Berlinale-in-summer series and found myself wondering why I didn't get even more tickets.
Berlinale 2021: 'Herr Bachmann and His Class' is Inspiring Teaching
As the world changes, and as society evolves, so must teaching, and so must teachers. But how, exactly, and where is there an example of a teacher that can best educate (and handle) youngsters as they're growing up? This exceptional documentary brings us into the classroom of one extraordinary teacher who offers a near perfect example of how to teach and deal with rowdy adolescents. Mr. Bachmann and His Class, also known as Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse in German, has premiered at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival and is one of the documentary highlights of the fest this year. Directed by German filmmaker Maria Speth, the film runs a grand total of 3 hours and 37 minutes. However, it properly and proudly earns its "Frederick Wiseman from Germany" comparison because it seriously comes close to matching the quality of his films.
› Posted on March 12 in Berlinale, Documentaries, Review | 1 Comment
Berlinale 2021 Awards: Prizes for Radu Jude & Ryusuke Hamaguchi
"The Golden Bear goes to a film which has that rare and essential quality of a lasting art work. It captures on screen the very content and essence, the mind and body, the values and the raw flesh of our present moment in time." The 71st Berlin Film Festival (also known as just Berlinale) has wrapped up, and the small set of prizes were revealed this weekend, including the winner of the coveted Golden Bear for Best Film. That top prize was given to a Romanian dark comedy film called (in English) Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, directed by Radu Jude. The festival, usually held in February, transitioned to a virtual press + industry only event this past week, showing premieres online and in the cinema for the jury only. Jude's film is a clever, wacky, made-during-the-pandemic-so-everyone-wears-masks critical commentary about sex and society. It's a good win for originality, though not my fave film of the fest. Full list of 2021 prizes below.
› Posted on March 7 in Awards, Berlinale, Movie News | Comments Closed
Berlinale 2021: 'Je Suis Karl' is a Chilling Story of Modern Day Fascism
Be afraid, be very afraid. There's something going on out there, something stirring in the shadows, and it's something we need to be worried about. Fascism is back. It's reared its ugly head too many times in too many countries recently. And filmmakers definitely have something to say about this, especially German filmmakers. Je Suis Karl just premiered at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival, the latest feature from German filmmaker Christian Schwochow (of November Child, Cracks in the Shell, West, Paula) and screenwriter Thomas Wendrich, and it's an unnerving, frightening, realistic portrayal of the rise of fascism. From the moment it started, I immediately had knots in my stomach, knowing what was coming. Much like watching Titanic or United 93, you know what's about to happen and I felt that intense dread watching it all play out.
Berlinale 2021: Natalie Morales' 'Language Lessons' on Platonic Love
How well do you really know your friends? Perhaps you know them better than they want to admit. Perhaps you don't know all of their secrets. But whatever it is that connects you, that's what matters. And that's what this beautiful film is all about. Language Lessons is something really special. I feel honored to be witness to the start of a whole new indie subgenre - mumblezoom. (Or maybe zoomumble? Zoomcore?) It doesn't surprise me that Mark Duplass is involved in the next evolution of mumblecore, but this really is Natalie Morales' film above all. This film is like a big warm hug of pure, perfect goodness that we all so need right now. Just patient and lovely in its heartfelt reminder that friendship is vitally important and we need to stop being so against anyone who tries to care. Let love glow, let it shine, let it heal us, let it take us on journeys.
Berlinale 2021: A Robot Teaches How to Love Again in 'I'm Your Man'
Love is hard. While it seems like it should be easy, once that feeling overtakes us and embraces us, the act of loving is not as easy as it seems. We all know this, at least we've heard it said before, yet we all long for love and wish we'll find someone to make us less lonely. But how can we achieve that if we've lived for so long on our own, establishing an entirely independent life. Is there even an answer to that question? One of my all-time favorite romances, Spike Jonze's Her, digs into this question and the fabric of love and how it works. I'm Your Man is another new sci-fi romance film that also digs into this question, and presents us with a peculiar yet fascinating story of love and its impossibly complex dynamics. It's a sweet, low key story about a robot lover created to be the "perfect" partner and how he changes one woman in ways she wasn't expecting.
Berlinale 2020: My 6 Favorite Films at This Year's Fest - Docs & More
Cinema lives on! "This is a very special tribe of people. Workers? Yes. But also believers: in the magic & the power of storytelling." -Helen Mirren. The 70th Berlin Film Festival (aka Berlinale) has wrapped up in Berlin, offering a bevy of fine films for cinephiles to enjoy and analyze. To recap the festival this year, I've put together a quick list of my six favorite films at Berlinale 2020 - a mix of documentaries and features. Last year, I only wrote about my favorite docs because everything else wasn't good, but this year I was happy to come across some marvelous narrative films that left a strong impression on me. And I have to mention these, along with my favorite docs, because I hope these films will break out of the festival circuit and reach audiences worldwide. They deserve that chance, and they deserve to be seen, give them a look when you can.
Berlinale 2020: Christian Petzold's Sweet, Simple Love Story 'Undine'
"'She is an enchantress!' cried Bertalda; 'a witch, that has intercourse with evil spirits. She acknowledges it herself.'" We can always trust in German filmmaker Christian Petzold to make an interesting film no matter what. Undine is his latest feature film, following his acclaimed film Transit from two years ago. It is indeed based on the classic fairy tale of the same name, originally a German novella written by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué in the early 1800s. The story is about a water spirit named Undine, who marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. The classic romance has been updated in modern times (see: Colin Farrell in Ondine) about a water spirit who must return to the water at some point in her life, usually related to being in love. And in Christian Petzold's Undine, her story also involves a great deal of romance.
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