To Berlin for a Bear
Experts say that among all A-class festivals German one is the most politically engaged and democratic, without excessive pathos. Well, what else can it be if the film forum was launched in 1951 in militarized and divided Berlin? Back then the festival became more than just a cultural event because it was in fact an island of freedom in surroundings of totalitarian East Germany. And even when the Wall fell, Berlinale didn’t abandon its traditions and never became similar to glamorous Cannes with its caviar champagne and yachts or to artistic and decadent Venice.
Ordinary Berliners and visiting viewers don’t care about taxidos and courtesies – they simply take an opportunity to watch good movies on big screen and discuss films in the context of social and political problems. They behave very actively and during demonstrations talk not only to one another but also to moviemakers. And all this, so that you get a full picture, is necessarily accessorized with beer and sausages and incredible German pedantry – in the whole world it is hard to find a more coherently orchestrated event.
In a fight for the Golden Bear (ancient symbol of the city) not only high-art films come together but also radical creations able to shock the audience. This is why directors, actors and producers from all over the world send their works here hoping to be discovered. According to orchestrators, annually program department looks through about 5-7 thousand movies, for only 15-20 of them to get to the main program and fight for prizes. About 300 more pictures constitute non-competitive sections. At that, even parallel programs like Forum or Panorama are just as honorary because they reveal new names to the audience and flashing a film there is worth a lot.
Specially for its readers, Outlook came up with a selection of five most-awaited films of the approaching festival with its jury headed by Darren Aronofsky, the author of Requiem for a Dream, Pi, drama Noah and other great movies.
Under the Electric Sky, Russia, Ukraine, Poland
Large-scale co-production was supposed to be finalized by last year but its director, Alexey German, Jr. had to put off the work on a movie of his own because he had to work on his father’s “Hard to Be a God”, because the latter died after long-lasting disease. In his new film one of the main contemporary Russian directors turned to the issue of people and territories – the movie shows how human destines are intertwined in the vast territory of former CIS countries. In the light of current political events it sounds very much relevant, which means, there is a good chance to catch hold of a Golden Bear.
Fifty Shades of Grey, USA
The film based on the bestseller by British writer E. L. James is already nicknamed in no other way but “mommy porn”. It’s all about the plot that is hinged on relationships of a beautiful billionaire and a modest girl who works as a consultant in a hardware store. The couple prepares for the audience full exposure to the world of sexual amusement and perversion. A-list celebrities refused to take part in the project just as Steven Soderbergh who was invited to occupy director’s chair. So, producer promise to reveal new names and talents to the world – of actors as well as of Sam Taylor-Johnson who directed the movie.
Eisenstein in Guanajunato, Mexico, the Netherlands
Another international project headed by “the great and the almighty” conceptualist Peter Greenaway. Despite the fact that the Englishman has been broadcasting to the world the death of cinema as an art, he himself keeps filming. His movie about the author of Battleship Potemkin could have failed to appear. After having travelled around the whole Russia, part of Ukraine and Belarus he failed to discover necessary ‘Slavic faces’ and almost dropped the project. When in Finland he by chance met actor Elmer Bäck, who strikingly resembled young Eisenstein. Ultimately, the ice broke up and a movie about adventures (including love ones with homosexual subtext) of the great moviemaker in Mexico has been created after all. Greenaway himself says that incredible revelations about the famous figure are expecting viewers.
Knight of Cups, USA
American classic Terrence Malick is the main recluse in the world of cinema. There aren’t that many journalists and critics who even know how he looks and what he says because the master almost never shows up in public (he even didn’t come to Cannes to get his price in due time) and doesn’t give interviews. Therefore there isn’t much known about the director’s new project aside from the cast and it is splendid: here we see Christian Bale together with Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett… Altogether, we’ll have something to marvel unless Malick cuts them out during final editing – and such things happened more than once. According to a recently released trailer, the plot concentrates around parabolic search for The Way and Oneself. It is never the other way or any simpler with Terrence Malick.
And this is nowhere near a remake of a comedy by Luc Besson because the author of Taxi is an Iranian Jafar Panahi who remains in jail since 2010 as a political prisoner for his art among other things. Nevertheless, even behind bars he somehow manages to direct festival hits. Informed audience expect every other work of the master without even knowing what it is about. And here is Taxi that is believed to be one of the main front runners of Berlinale-2015 even more so given that Panahi only has a Silver Bear (Grand Prix) in his collection and there becomes more and more politics in his movies that is bound to be appreciated in the capital of Germany.
Photo from open sources