My own (private) BERlinale

Most of my conversations with friends start by asking, how I got to Berlin and if I took the now-so-trendy and ecologically correct night train. Well, I will be honest with you, dear reader, I didn’t go by train. I’m actually getting used to the (brand)new finally functional BER airport. Not that I don’t agree with the night-train-takers and nostalgic rail poets of old Europe but this I booked last minute (two weeks before Berlinale) and the trains were already fully booked. Anyway, I got to Berlin by air and no, it wasn’t AirBerlin (this one went bankrupt some years ago) and I didn’t drink a shot of «Berliner Luft» on the plane either.

What I saw in the dark…

The retrospective of this 73rd Berlinale focuses on the Coming of Age genre. I saw these three pearls in this section:

  • «Sogni d’Oro» (IT 1981) by Nanni Moretti, featured in the retrospective, this newly restored film is an ironic portrayal of Roman film auteur Michèle Apicella, who thinks himself better than everyone else and especially his rival Gigio Cimino, whom he despises. The film was very entertaining and without doubt worth the restoration. It apparently marked a turning point in Moretti’s career, who oversaw the digitalisation and is still making films.
  • « De bruit et de fureur » by Jean-Claude Brisseau (FR 1988) is a film set in poor Parisian suburbs and a kind of french «Rebel Without a Cause». 13 year old Bruno, a dreamy and sensitive boy, who just moved to the area finds a friend in the school bad boy Jean-Roger. The latter is violent, lives with his father – who shoots on posters of Indians – and his slowly dying grandfather. Jean-Roger introduces Bruno to a group of delinquents and draws him into trouble.
  • « Seishun zankoku monogatari » (Cruel Story of Youth) by Nagisa Oshima (JPN 1960) is the story of a harsh young man, who seduces a freeloading young woman and eventually takes advantage of her knack for hitch-hiking to rob middle-class men.

Bad boys and foolish girls

Similar but not in the retrospective was the film « Sonne und Beton », the story of a group of bad boys from Neukölln in the early 2000’s (time when Schörder was Kanzler). The four friends Lukas, Julius, Gino and Sanchez live with drugs, gangs, rap, violence and boredom. Until one day they try to change the courses of their lives with a criminal deed. The film, acclaimed by the Berlin audience – at least I got this impression watching it in a huge venue with what I assume were mostly Berliners – was a bit too commercial and I thought the colours were totally overblown. Not a film you should watch, unless you like this very german habit of oversaturated images, not only in terms of colours but also music (Bushido-style rap à gogo) and sounds of hitting and fighting men, not my cup of tea.

Last but not least, I opted for the programme 1 of Berlinale Shorts, curated by Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck and consisting of «8», a french short film set in some rather poor looking Parisian suburbs (again!) and featuring a heavy, almost crushing sound design and some teenage girls filming themselves for social media.. Followed by «From Fish to Moon» by American director Kevin Contento and set in a small supermarket somewhere in Florida. Better than the french short, this one is a pot-pourri of American kiosk-food and features young Afro-American actor Jean Voltaire –a rather catchy name.

And finally – at least for me because after this short film came a chinese one but I was too afraid of missing my flight so i left – «Jill, uncredited». Wow! Short sequences of Period Pieces in slow motion are juxtaposed. We don’t really know where to put our focus first and can only contemplate the variety of film scenes picked for this mash-up. I think I recognized at least one dance scene from a jewish marriage in «Fiddler On The Roof» and didn’t get what this footage was about until the young English director Anthony Ing told the audience during she Q&A that he brought Jill Goldston with him, a woman who worked as an extra on all the scenes he assembled.

«Jill, uncredited» by Anthony Ing

I admit this Berlinale was a bit rushed – only two and a half days. This year the inflation (4€ for a small piece of cake…) even surprised me a little and the ticket price rose to 12€ for regular films. I also got the impression that there were a lot of films screened at the very boring multiplex Cubix next to Alexanderplatz and less in cool venues (like International, Zoopalast, Haus der Berliner Festspiele etc.) but this if of course my very subjective impression. If you also visited the 73rd Berlin and discovered some filmic peals, I’d be glad to read about your impressions inthe comments below or on your blog! 🥸

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