The Berlinale's unveiled two lineups today, the first being for one of the programs we most anticipate each year, the Forum. In its 41st edition, the Forum will be screening 39 films in the main program, plus six special screenings. "In addition, 8 films will be shown from the most important creative period of Shibuya Minoru, a director ripe for rediscovery whose society dramas and comedies had an enduring effect on Japanese cinema." And the image above is from Modern People (1952). Secondly, we've got the Berlinale Shorts lineup, too.
Amnesty by Bujar Alimani, Albania/Greece/France - World Premiere. According to the Berlinale's press release, in this feature debut, "a man and a woman get to know each other at Tirana prison whilst visiting their respective spouses for state sanctioned sexual relations. The two of them subsequently begin an affair that could end at any time."
Auf der Suche (Looking for Simon) by Jan Krüger, Germany/France - WP. Corinna Harfouch plays "a mother who travels to Marseille to discover that her missing son no longer corresponds with her previous picture of him."
Ausente (Absent) by Marco Berger, Argentina - WP. It "tells of the confusions of adolescence, whereby a schoolboy tests the boundaries of his relationship to the sport teacher he admires."
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye by Marie Losier, USA/France - WP. Losier has a trailer, a link to the official site and a synopsis: "Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been a key figure of the underground music scene for over 30 years… A kaleidoscopic collection of moving surfaces, composed of interviews (Orlan, Peaches, Peter Christopherson), role plays, concerts and his day to day life, comes together to paint a multi-faceted profile of this pioneer of industrial music and in doing so, exposes the abundant yet inherently elusive nature of his creativity."
Brownian Movement by Nanouk Leopold, The Netherlands/Germany/Belgium - European Premiere. Daniel Kasman from Toronto: "I can’t say there’s much nuance to the film’s weird pursuit of period love, but the crossed-wires of neurotic madness and sexual affection has a mesmeric charm and power of its own."
Cheonggyecheon Medley: A Dream of Iron by Kelvin Kyung Kun Park, Republic of Korea - International Premiere. The Berlinale's press release notes that this doc "places the threatened demolition of a traditional metalworking district in the city of Seoul within the complex wider context of Korean history and social structures."
Day Is Done by Thomas Imbach, Switzerland - WP. A "fictional autobiography" from Okofilm Productions: "The man behind the camera is searching his image – by day and night, when it rains and snows he is filming out of the window of his atelier. Clouds and trains, cranes and birds are passing by. At the same time we hear people talking on his answering machine. They talk about every-day things, about the nice weather during their vacation and congratulate him to his birthday. The father dies, a child is born, the young family is slowly falling apart. Time passes and years go by. The city-landscape with the chimney becomes thereby more and more the inner landscape of the man behind the camera."
Dom (The House) by Zuzana Liová, Slowak Republic/Czech Republic - WP. Explore the site.
E-Love by Anne Villaceque, France - IP. Looks like Anne Consigny plays a young woman in search of a stable relationship. With Antoine Chappey, Carlo Brandt, Carole Franck, Alain Libolt, Serge Renko, Jacky Ido and Maher Kamoun.
De Engel van Doel (An Angel in Doel) by Tom Fassaert, The Netherlands/Belgium - WP. The film "deals with the destruction of an entire town to make way for the harbour expansion in the Belgian city of Antwerp, focussing on the devastating consequences for the largely older inhabitants."
En terrains connus (Familiar Ground) by Stéphane Lafleur, Canada - WP. From micro_scope films: When a serious accident occurs at the factory where Mary works, a series of fortuitous events and an enigmatic visit from a man claiming to be the future (Denis Houle) send her and her brother on a road trip. With Francis La Haye, Fanny Mallette, Sylvain Marcel, Michel Daigle and Suzanne Lemoine.
FIT by Hirosue Hiromasa, Japan - IP. From the Tokyo International Film Festival: "Before leaving for work, Sagawa stares at himself in a suit in the mirror and talks to himself ebulliently, just like a teacher cheering on a pupil. His obsession to do something for others leads him to create a hero, but others see him as a suspicious individual and he is backed into a corner. Around the same time, a clumsy bunch of people, Kawakami, Sagawa's colleague, Ohki, a new recruit, Nitta, his client and obsessive complainer, Tahara, who was dating Sagawa's friend, and Masaru, his brother, begin to rely on other 'humans' to escape their own loneliness and suffering. Knowing it is not just happiness and joy that lie ahead, the way they still rely on human nature, that people cannot live alone, is comical but consummately beautiful."
Folge mir (Follow Me) by Johannes Hammel, Austria - IP. From the Viennale: "Mrs Blumenthal lives with her husband and her two sons in a bleak, dockside neighborhood. She develops an intense social phobia, caused by her worries about the severe accident suffered by her oldest son, Roman. It becomes impossible for her to mingle with people and she increasingly barricades herself and her family in their dark apartment, plagued by hallucinations, memories and agoraphobia."
Halaw (Ways of the Sea) by Sheron Dayoc, The Philippines - EP. From Angku: "The film centers on an illiterate Badjao, Jahid and his 9-year-old daughter Daying as they illegally cross the border of the Philippines and Malaysia through the southern backdoor. Determined to reunite with his wife, he leaves behind everything they have in Jolo to search for his lost wife in Sabah where an uncertain future awaits him. He meets Hernand, who poses as a war photographer as he is drawn into the world of white slavery across the sea border. The two meet as they board the pump boat to the nearest Island of Sabah."
Heaven's Story by Zeze Takahisa, Japan - IP. From Nicholas Vroman: "Takahisa Zeze, who made his name in contemporary pinku turned relatively mainstream in the 2000s with films such as Moon Child and Pandemic. With his Heaven's Story, he's attempting to craft a sort of Nashville / Babel / Wings of Desire for the second decade of 21st century film-going. The first 2 hours are great. The film sputters, albeit with some great moments, and ultimately dies after the second 2 and a half hours."
Hi-So by Aditya Assarat, Thailand – EP. From the director of Wonderful Town. From Pop Pictures: "Ananda has returned home from abroad. Unsure of his career plans, he accepts an invitation to act in a new movie for a famous director. During the filming in a small seaside town, Zoe, his American girlfriend from University, arrives for a week-long visit. But the change of country takes its toll and she soon becomes frustrated [with] the situation. Meanwhile, Ananda meets another girl on the beach…"
Jagadangchak: shidaejeongshin kwa hyeonshilchamyeo (Self Referential Traverse: Zeitgeist and Engagement) by Kim Sun, Republic of Korea - WP.
Kazoku X (Household X) by Yoshida Kōki, Japan - IP.
Man chu (Late Autumn) by Kim Tae-Yong, Republic of Korea/Hongkong, China/USA - EP. From Toronto: "Anna is on her way to Seattle to attend her mother's funeral while on a special weekend release from prison. On the bus, she meets Hoon, a "companion for hire" for lonely, older women. Both are running away but both find something in each other while spending a day together."
Made in Poland by Przemysław Wojcieszek, Poland - IP. From Film New Europe: "16-year old Boguś, a former altar boy, acts out on his disappointment with God. He tattoos obscenities on his forehead, arms himself with a metal rod and sets out to start a revolution on his block and look for new spiritual guidance. The story was initially a film project, but Wojcieszek decided not wait for funding and first created a theater play in 2004, which turned out to be a spectacular success. The play was strongly praised by critics and is considered one of the most significant plays in Poland in the last decade." Funding followed; he shot in 2008 and the film is finally ready now.
Les mains libres (Free Hands) by Brigitte Sy, France - IP. From Wikipedia: "Barbara ([Ronit] Elkabetz) is a filmmaker developing a film written and acted by prison inmates in Paris. She defies legal boundaries and unleashes a series of consequence when she forms a deep romantic relationship with Michel ([Carlo] Brandt), an inmate involved in the film project."
El mocito (The Young Butler) by Marcela Said, Jean de Certeau, Chile - WP. According to Cinema Chile, the doc "tells the story of 'Jorgelino' or 'el mocito,' a man that served the coffee and ran other errands during the 1970's dictatorship in Chile, until he finally ended carrying the tortured corpses of political prisoners, a past full of remorse that hunts him still in present days and has him desperately looking for pardon."
Nesvatbov (Matchmaking Mayor) by Erika Hníková, Czech Republic - IP. In this doc, "an energetic mayor's efforts to counteract his village's dwindling population with a large-scale matchmaking program end in abject failure."
Ocio (Idleness) by Alejandro Lingenti, Juan Villegas, Argentina - IP. For the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Cinema, "the best possible idleness is the one you experience in solitary; as solitary as the life led by Andrés, which features a constant soundtrack that tries to fill the void in his days and nights. He lives with his brother and his father, but the only way the three of them might coincide in the house’s dining room is by a stroke of chance. Idleness has a clear rocker spirit (a fact confirmed by the guitar riffs that shape up the leitmotiv, as well as by the endless cameos of local rock stars), but it also exists beyond those references."
Osmdesát dopisů (Eighty Letters) by Václav Kadrnka, Czech Republic - WP. From Kadrnka's site: "The source of the film are the memories of the director and the surviving correspondence between his parents. The story takes place in Czechoslovakia in 1987. The father has defected to England and the mother and her son are planning to leave the country to be reunited with him. Husband, wife, child — even at a distance they are still together, but the forced break-up of any family is an abnormal situation. The events of the film are viewed from the boy’s perspective, the exasperated gaze of one lacking experience, his initiation in the course of this single day — the film."
Os residentes (The Residents) by Tiago Mata Machado, Brasil - IP. From what I can tell from the Google translation, residents move into an abandoned house and create a new temporary autonomous zone.
Patang (The Kite) by Prashant Bhargava, India/USA - WP. From the film's Facebook page: "A poetic journey into the heart of the old city of Ahmedabad, Patang weaves together the stories of six people transformed by the energy of India's largest kite festival."
Poor kor karn rai (The Terrorists) by Thunska Pansittivorakul, Germany/Thailand - WP. From GMfilms: "The movie is divided into seventeen unrelated segments and is a mixture of both documentary and experimental film genres. By inhabiting the lives of laymen from different parts of Thailand, the movie brings us through blurry trails, distorted memories and recently constructed histories. We unearth missing pieces of the puzzle in our attempt to understand why Thai democracy is still considered backwards and frozen. Are we deceiving ourselves that we are in a democratic society when we are not?"
Sekai Good Morning!! (Good Morning to the World!!) by Hirohara Satoru, Japan - EP. From Julian Ross: "The recipient of Dragons & Tigers Award for Young Cinema at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 and winner of the Special Jury Prize at the PIA Film Festival 2010, Hirohara’s debut already indicates a natural talent in story construction and shot composition, heralding him as the shining light of hope in Japanese cinema despite his young age and student status."
Silver Bullets/Art History by Joe Swanberg, USA - WP. In a Just Press Play profile from November 2009, the film's described as a collaboration with Ti West, an "attempt at a pseudo-horror film. Described as a loose adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Silver Bullet centers on an actress cast in a werewolf movie and is 'a film about filmmaking' — much like The Seagull was a play about putting on a play." As for Art History, it's hard to find anything more that hasn't since disappeared other than to note that it's already on Dan Sallitt's list of favorite films of 2011. Update, 1/18: Joe's now posted notes, synopses and pix from both films on his site. The shot above is from Silver Bullets, which "examines the cinema and asks questions about art, commerce, power and desire. Using David Foster Wallace as a reference point, the film also explores fame, depression and suicide." And he describes Art History as "an apology to anyone I have hurt because of the way I work or because of my own emotional recklessness. As the title suggests, I hope all of these instances are in the past." Short synopsis: "Tension mounts between a director and his lead actress on the set of a sexually explicit low-budget film. As the actress and her co-star develop real feelings for each other, the director's jealousy erupts and he begins sabotaging his own film."
State of Violence by Khalo Matabane, Republic of South Africa/France - EP. From Toronto: "In his follow-up to Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, Khalo Matabane delivers a potent drama about a South African corporate leader whose past as a violent revolutionary comes back to threaten him."
Submarine by Richard Ayoade, Great Britain - EP. See the roundup of reviews, clips and so on from Toronto.
Swans by Hugo Vieira da Silva, Germany/Portugal - WP. "Vieira da Silva sends a father and son from far-off Portugal back to Berlin to visit the boy’s mother, who is now in hospital in a coma but who has long since been estranged from them."
Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols, USA - IP. We've got Sundance's synopsis on the film's page, and it begins like this: "Following his acclaimed debut, Shotgun Stories, writer/director Jeff Nichols reteams with actor Michael Shannon to create a haunting tale that will creep under your skin and expose your darkest fears." Update, 1/18: At indieWIRE, Nigel M Smith reports that Sony Pictures Classics has picked up rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.
Territoire perdu by Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd, France/Belgium - WP. Into the heart of the Sahara.
Traumfabrik Kabul (Kabul Dream Factory) by Sebastian Heidinger, Germany/Afghanistan - WP. "Heidinger creates a portrait of Afghan policewoman, actress and film producer Saba Sahar, who stands up for the rights of Afghan women in particular and whose film work seeks both to entertain and enlighten."
Unter Kontrolle (Under Control) by Volker Sattel, Germany - WP. "Sattel visits German and Austrian nuclear industry sites, showing the people at work who are responsible for the maintenance or even the dismantling of the science fiction of yesterday. It is a film about the aesthetics of a misguided technological utopia and its architecture."
Utopians by Zbigniew Bzymek, USA - WP. The site has a synopsis and a trailer. The film (formerly called Made-up Language) "follows Roger (Jim Fletcher), yoga teacher and single father, and his daughter Zoe (Courtney Webster), after her discharge from military service. Roger and Zoe's buddy-like relationship sours when Zoe becomes obsessed with an allegedly mentally-ill girlfriend named Maya (Lauren Hind). Roger's anger-management problem returns which causes him to lose his yoga class. Alas, the three of them wind up working together — in a big house owned by Roger's old acquaintance. But are they able to work in such luxurious conditions?"
Viva Riva! by Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Democratic Republic of Congo/France/Belgium - EP. From Toronto, Daniel Kasman wrote, "It's doubtful there’ll be a more fun film at the festival."
From today's press release: "A unique filmic experiment will be receiving its premiere in a special screening. A debate on film aesthetics organised by the German film magazine Revolver provided the impetus for Dreileben, a television production for which directors Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler each have contributed a 90-minute feature film. All three films revolve above the same event: the escape of an allegedly violent criminal from police custody. The films each tell the story in different styles and from different standpoint: from the point of view of a young man doing alternative national service (Petzold’s Etwas Besseres als den Tod), from that of a police psychologist who has arrived to investigate the case (Graf’s Komm mir nicht nach) and from that of the fleeing criminal himself and a local police officer (Hochhäusler’s Eine Minute Dunkel)." World Premiere.
Eine Serie von Gedanken by Heinz Emigholz, Germany - WP. This seems to be a 91-minute version of a series Emigholz has been working on since 1986; it has four parts: El Greco in Toledo, Leonardo's Tears, On Board the USS Ticanderoga and A Museum Construction Site in Essen.
Himmel und Erde by Michael Pilz, Austria, 1979-82 (Revival screening). 1979 - 1982, 285 minutes. From sixpackfilm: "Heaven and Earth is the fascinating portrait of a mountain village, fighting to survive, against the powers of nature as well as against economic pressure from outside. A profound reflection on the meaning of life, the destiny of work, the necessity for relations and the definite character of our world. Slow and lengthy, this film stands out for its beauty and poetry."
Sleepless Nights Stories by Jonas Mekas, USA - WP. Back in November, Mekas told a group of graduate students of the Art Criticism and Writing program at the School of Visual Arts: "I just completed a two hour movie, Sleepless Nights Stories. There are about 20 stories in it, it's a new kind of narrative. It's not like anything else I've done before." Update, 1/18: Mekas has posted stills at his site. See! Björk, Harmony Korine and Yoko Ono.
The Stool Pigeon by Dante Lam, Hongkong, China - EP. Derek Elley for Film Business Asia: "The main cast of Dante Lam's Beast Stalker reunites in a tense, more character-driven crime thriller."
Twenty Cigarettes by James Benning, USA - WP. Like the title says...
Honjitsu kyushin (Doctor's Day Off, 1952).
Gendaijin (Modern People, 1952).
Seigi-ha (Righteousness, 1957).
Akujo no kisetsu (The Days of Evil Women, 1958).
Mozu (The Shrikes, 1961).
Kojin kojitsu (A Good Man, a Good Day, 1961).
Yopparai tengoku (Drunkard's Paradise, 1962).
Daikon to ninjin (The Radish and the Carrot, 1964).
* * *
15 iulie, Cristi Iftime, Romania, 12’ (WP)
Apele Tac, Anca Miruna Lăzărescu, Germany/Romania, 31’ (WP)
Ashley/Amber, Rebecca R. Rojer, USA, 22’ (WP)
Återfödelsen, Hugo Lilja, Sweden, 28’ (IP)
Back by 6, Peter Connelly, Belgium, 28’ (WP)
Cleaning up the Studio, Christian Jankowski, Republic of Korea, 10’ (IP)
Erdö, György Mór Kárpáti, Hungary, 12’ (WP)
Fragen an meinen Vater, Konrad Mühe, Germany, 11’ (WP)
Green Crayons, Kazik Radwanski, Canada, 10’ (IP)
Heavy Heads, Helena Frank, Denmark, 8’ (WP)
La Calma, Fernando Vílchez Rodríguez, Peru, 20’ (WP)
La Ducha, Maria Jose San Martin, Chile, 10’ (IP)
Paranmanjang (Park Chan-wook, Park Chan-kyong), Republic of Korea, 33’ (IP) Park shot this one on an iPhone 4. As John M Glionna reports for the Los Angeles Times, it's "a fantasy about a middle-aged fisherman who one day hauls a woman out of the water's depths."
Pera Berbangê, Arin İnan Arslan, Turkey, 15’ (WP)
Planet Z, Momoko Seto, France, 10’ (WP)
Pu-Seo-Jin Bam, Yang Hyo-joo, Republic of Korea, 23’ (IP)
Rao Yi Sheng, Alexej Tchernyi, Wu Zhi, Germany, 7’ (WP)
Scenes from the Suburbs, Spike Jonze, USA, 28’ (WP)
Sju dagar i skogen, Peter Larsson, Sweden, 6’ (IP)
Stick Climbing, Daniel Zimmermann, Austria/Switzerland, 14’ (IP)
Sudsanan, Pimpaka Towira, Thailand, 30’ (IP)
Susya, Dani Rosenberg, Yoav Gross, Israel/Palestinian Territories, 15’ (WP)
Świteź, Kamil Polak, Poland, 21’ (WP)
Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, Akram Zaatari, Lebanon/Great Britain, 7’ (IP)
Woman Waiting, Antoine Bourges, Canada, 15’ (IP)