"After visiting Asia, North and South America as well as many European countries to view and select films, 24 works — that is just under half of the 50 films to be presented in the Panorama section — are now certain," announces the Berlinale. "They provide lively insight into the creations of world cinema during the so-called post-crisis era. What's more, they reveal that documentary film continues to be strong in 2011: documentaries again make up about a third of the program."
Panorama Main Program + Panorama Special
Bu-dang-geo-rae (The Unjust) by Seung-wan Ryoo, Republic of Korea. With Jung-min Hwang, Seung-bum Ryoo, Hae-jin Yoo. A serial killer's been targeting school kids and the president is threatening to involve himself in the investigation. When the lead suspect dies, police decide to come up with a replacement — even if they have to create one. The film's been doing well at the domestic box office; KOCCA has a full report.
Chang-Pi-Hae (Ashamed) by Soo-hyun Kim, Republic of Korea. With Hyo-jin Kim, Kkobbi Kim. "All the minuses and few of the pluses of writer-director Kim Soo-hyun's eccentric comedy So Cute (2004) are present in his second feature, Ashamed, which plays like an assembly print in desperate need of cutting," writes Derek Elley for Film Business Asia. "At 90 rather than 129 minutes, this raggedly constructed tale-within-a-tale of a lesbian affair between two young women could make a reasonably interesting movie — though never a good one, simply because its lesbian content is the least convincing element, especially as played by Kim Hyo-jin (the youngest sister in the 2004 rom-com Everybody Has Secrets) and Kim Ggot-bi (the schoolgirl in Yang Ik-joon's abusive 2008 drama Breathless). Though Kim Ggot-bi, notably, is a considerable young actress, there's no on-screen sexual chemistry between the two, and the film's Korean title (which can also be translated as Embarrassed) best describes the chastely-shot love scenes that finally emerge at the 80-minute mark."
Dance Town by Kyu-hwan Jeon, Republic of Korea. With Mir-an Ra, Seong-tae Oh. Again, Derek Elley for Film Business Asia: "The final leg of writer-director Jeon Kyu-hwan's trilogy on urban loneliness, Dance Town lacks the dramatic power of the previous instalment, Animal Town but, like the first, Mozart Town (2008), spreads its net beyond just South Korean denizens — this time focusing on a middle-aged North Korean defector who finds the South an alienating place, populated by touchy-feely Christians, social misfits, people struggling to get by financially, and men with only drink and sex on their mind."
The Devil's Double by Lee Tamahori, Belgium. With Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier. The IMDb lowdown: "A chilling vision of the House of Saddam Hussein comes to life through the eyes of the man who was forced to become the double of Hussein's sadistic son." Site. Facebook. Twitter. The film's bound for Sundance and we have the full synopis on the film's page.
Dirty Girl by Abe Sylvia, USA. With Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy, Dwight Yoakam, Mary Steenburgen. Here's what happened when it screened in Toronto: "Dirty Girl stars Juno Temple as a teen jezebel who, with the help of the school closet-case, hits the road in search of her deadbeat dad, whose lifelong absence too-conveniently explains her man-crazy ways," writes Peter Debruge in Variety. "What begins as a politically incorrect, Mean Girls-esque satire constantly shifts tone and focus as director Abe Sylvia pursues a style as jumbled as his narrative." Neither Stephen Saito (IFC) nor Scott Tobias (AV Club) can believe the Weinstein Company's paid $3 million for this. More from Mike Goodridge (Screen), Daniel Kasman (The Daily Notebook), Michael Rechtshaffen (THR) and Kim Voynar (Movie City News).
Fjellet (The Mountain) by Ole Giæver, Norway. With Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Marte Magnusdotter Solem. From the Norwegian Film Institute: "This is the story of Nora and Solveig, a grief-stricken couple on a trip through the mountain range where they had a traumatic experience two years prior."
The Guard by John Michael McDonagh, Ireland/Great Britain/Argentina. With Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong. "An unorthodox Irish policeman with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring." Heading to Sundance; full synopsis on the film's page.
Majki (Mothers) by Milcho Manchevski, Macedonia/France. With Ana Stojanovska, Vladimir Jačev, Dimitar Gjorgjievski, Ratka Radmanović, Salaetin Bilal. When it screened in Toronto, Radheyan Simonpillai wrote for NOW Magazine: "The three episodes in Macedonian filmmaker Manchevski's medley have almost nothing to do with each other. There's the charming vignette where two adorable girls visit police to report a pervert they never saw. Then there's the sluggish segment where filmmakers visit a peasant woman to learn about old customs. Finally, there's the horrific documentary about a serial killer in a small town who preyed on elderly cleaning women. Each chapter has its moments, but taken together they make for a baffling experience."
Mishen (Target) by Alexander Zeldovich, Russian Federation, world premiere. With Maksim Sukhanov, Justine Waddell, Danila Kozlovsky, Daniela Stoyanovich, Nina Loshchinina. From Ren Media Group USA: "In the year 2020, a group of wealthy Muscovites travel to an abandoned astrophysics complex located in the Altai Mountains rumored to have enough power to halt the process of aging. The locals call the complex Mishen (The Target)."
Rundskop (Bullhead) by Michaël R. Roskam, Belgium. With Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian, Frank Lammers. Image above. From the press kit: "The young Limburg cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman, and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from his past, set in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences." Savage Film has a trailer. Facebook.
Tropa de Elite 2 - o inimigo agora é outro (Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within) by José Padilha, Brazil. With Wagner Moura, Sandro Rocha, André Mattos, Maria Ribeiro, André Ramiro. This sequel to the controversial winner of the Golden Bear in 2008, Elite Squad, was released in Brazil in October, immediately breaking opening weekend box office records and going on to become the biggest domestic hit in Brazilian history. Recommended read: "Rio's New Reality Show" by Lilia M Schwarcz at the NYRBlog.
Über uns das All by Jan Schomburg, Germany, world premiere. With Sandra Hüller, Georg Friedrich, Felix Knopp. From german films: "Martha works as a teacher, while Paul has been studying Medicine and is now planning to take up a post as a doctor in Marseilles. A day after his departure to France, two policemen appear at the door to inform Martha that her husband has committed suicide in the hospital's car park. Searching for reasons as to why he should have taken his own life, Martha is shocked to learn that Paul had long stopped studying and had never been offered a job in Marseilles. On a visit to the university, she meets the history lecturer Alexander who reminds her in many ways of Paul. Without telling him about her loss, she falls in love and begins an affair...." As far as I'm concerned, they had me at "Sandra Hüller."
Die Vaterlosen (The Fatherless) by Marie Kreutzer, Austria, world premiere. With Andrea Wenzl, Philipp Hochmair, Andreas Kiendl, Emily Cox, Marion Mitterhammer. From Novotny + Novotny: "Three brothers and sisters, born in an alternative housing cooperative and only partly raised together, meet again on the occasion of their father Hans's passing. The unexpected appearance of Hans's daughter Kyra, who was out of contact for over 20 years, sends the siblings on a soul-stirring journey into their mutual childhood."
The Advocate For Fagdom by Angélique Bosio, France, world premiere. A portrait of Bruce LaBruce with Gus Van Sant, John Waters, Richard Kern, Vaginal Davis among many others.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 by Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden/USA. With Stokley Carmichael, Angela Davis, Erykha Badu, Harry Belafonte. During the years in the title, Swedish journalists set out across the United States to document the black power movement. The film's heading to Sundance and we have a full synopsis on its page.
BRASCH - Die Widersprüche sind die Hoffnung by Christoph Rüter, Germany, world premiere. This'll most likely be about the German author, poet and filmmaker Thomas Brasch, about whom Rüter made a film five years ago.
Coming Home by Tomer Heymann, Israel, world premiere. Heymann's I Shot My Love screened in the Panorama Dokumente section last year.
homo@lv by Kaspars Goba, Latvia. Mara Traumane for the 4th Ars Baltica Triennial of Photographic Art: "Work on the film commenced with events surrounding the Gay Pride parade in Riga, Latvia between 2005 and 2006. Despite initial resistance by Riga's city council, the Pride took place in 2005; however, less than one hundred participants faced insults and accusations by the much larger mixed crowd of neoconservatives, extremist organizations, and representatives of various Christian communities. In July of 2006, when the ﬁlm research was already underway, the City Council banned the Pride 'for national security reasons.' The issue of sexual minorities, as is common in minority versus dominant normality cases, became another pre-election manipulation ground for the neoconservative party agendas. It culminated in violent assaults and attacks on the participants of the Pride rally and press conference. In his interviews Kaspars Goba states that he tries to maintain neutrality in his work and strives to reflect the positions of all parties involved. However, one can assume that the focus on and representation of the individual freedom — including freedom of expression — is in no way a neutral project in young democracy, which is still struggling with the ghosts of xenophobia, intolerance, and exclusion in its massive political cupboards."
House of Shame / Chantal All Night Long by Johanna Jackie Baier, Germany, world premiere. With Chantal Lehner, Andreas Schwarz, Joey Arias, Sherry Vine, Gloria Viagra. From Berlin Film Net: "The story of the House of Shame Party, an infamous weekly queer event in Berlin, and its transsexual organizer, hostess, front woman, stage hog — in short: protagonist, Chantal. A documentary musical about a legend of the Berlin queer underground."
Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo (Rent Boys) by Rosa von Praunheim, Germany, world premiere. With Sergiu Grimalschi, Lutz Volkwein, Wolfgang Werner, Peter Kern, Master Patrick. Like it says on the tin. Rosa von Praunheim's been blogging about the film and sounds pretty excited about presenting it next month.
Khodorkovsky by Cyril Tuschi, Germany, world premiere. With Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The doc could hardly be more timely, could it? A plot summary at the IMDb: "Khodorkovsky, the richest Russian, challenges President Putin. A fight of the titans begins. Putin warns him. But Khodorkovsky comes back to Russia knowing, that he will be imprisoned, once he returns. When I heard about it, I asked myself: why didn't he stay in Exile with a couple of billions? Why did he do that? A personal journey to Khodorkovsky."
Mondo Lux by Elfi Mikesch, Germany, world premiere. With Isabelle Huppert, Ingrid Caven, Wim Wenders, Rosa von Praunheim, Monika Keppler. There's a subtitle here that says it all: Die Bilderwelten von Werner Schroeter.
!Women Art Revolution - A Secret History by Lynn Hershman Leeson, USA. With Yvonne Rainer, Judy Chicago, Guerilla Girls, B. Ruby Rich, Carolee Schneeman. From the Toronto fest's synopsis: "Hershman was an active participant in this feminist art movement and spent the past forty years chronicling its breakthroughs on video. Now she’s shaped that archive into a remarkable cultural history that stirs up vital questions about politics, equality and freedom of expression."
We Were Here by David Weissman, USA. With Ed Wolf, Paul Boneberg, Guy Clark, Eileen Glutzer, Daniel Goldstein. From Sundance's synopsis: "In the early 1970s, in the shadow of the Stonewall riots and the free-love movement, gay men and lesbians flocked to San Francisco to find acceptance. They formed a thriving, tight-knit community until the arrival of AIDS in the early 1980s drove them under siege. Director David Weissman (The Cockettes screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival) chronicles this transformative era through the stories of five individuals who lived through the best and the worst of it."