62nd International Berlin Film Festival

A golden nomad Bear always among different cultures.

Berlin in these days of February is covered by snow and the windows of the great modern buildings of Potsdamer Platz glow of lights. The immaculate stage of the Berlinale, the great cultural representation now in its sixty second year, has the windows of the towering skyscrapers glinting in the dark frames of metal and reflects the large, colorful film posters that cover the entire city, teeming with tourists and lovers of the good cinema.

In fact in Berlin, the main character is the audience. Directors, stars, look-outs, clothes do not matter, what counts is the love for cinema, the art itself, which must be affordable for everyone. Tickets for the films are not meant only for children, relatives, friends of co-producers, sound engineers or consultants, but for the lucky ones and fans, those who decide early in the morning to deal with icy, cold roads and crowded with spectators ready for the potential queuing at the box office, even hoping for a place in the third row.

Everyone will be satisfied sooner or later. For those who are simply interested in seeing one or more of the 400 films in the program, sometimes it’s just necessary to get there an hour before the screening and pay a maximum cost of seven euro, four for students. The cinemas arranged for the exhibition are 48, located in every corner of the city. It is easy to reach them, the dense metro network covers the entire perimeter of Berlin and usually the cinemas for this event are located in strategic areas of the center and its surroundings.

The famous central-European city has stirred great excitement in those days and wherever you could breathe an atmosphere of expectation, curiosity, a genuine passion for the “seventh art”. The capital proudly puts on stage not only new international movie but also some of the great old German cinema that became the symbol of the desire for rebirth of Germany and its origins, that even if hurt, humiliated, was still well aware of its valuable cultural tradition. The first Berlinale, in fact, blossomed and came boldly to the light in the dark atmosphere of the Cold War, was the 1951, but, in spite of that sense of alienation and historical geographical isolation, wanted to assert the will of man to perpetuate itself in art, art seen as a unifying bridge between civilizations as well as the only chance of redemption from the horrors of war.

Berlinale is not Cannes and is not even Venice. It is far from the glamor of the catwalks and from the sparkling pages of glossy magazines. Here we perceive an aura of social commitment and seriousness that pervades and surrounds the entire scenario of the representation. At all levels, from the youngest to the most hardened among the film producers, everyone seems especially focused on the importance of the contents, on the social differences that every foreign film presented through many forms of languages, each with its visually and communicatively distinctive grammar.

Perhaps never as before the current world scenario, the profound economic and existential crisis that shocked both the hemispheres in all their latitude, has stormed into the interpretation of each other’s life, almost as a unifying fabric that has been sewn together thanks to the various plots of Berlinale’s movies . Faced with a generalized loss of values, lack of goals and planning, in full awareness of the precariousness of the human predicament, the award-winning filmmakers in this festival are mainly those who have been able to tell simple yet deeply intimate stories, stories that are born from wanderers lands, that differed in their landscapes and traditions and that are so fascinating in their apparent simplicity. Stories steeped in symbols.

Beyond the search for less consumerist plots than those presented in other European festivals and without considering the fact that among the members of the jury there is the famous Iranian director Asghar Farhadi that last year won the Golden Berlin Bear for his 5th long movie “A Separation” (2011), and the Dutch photographer and director Anton Corbijn famous for “Control” (2007) the remarkable biography about Ian Curtis, head member of the British band Joy Division, the Berlinale is characterized by another peculiarity: receiving and giving voice to young directors from all over the world! These are young people that have made a product of some artistic interest, usually low-budget, and wish to seize this great opportunity to showcase their own creations. Whether it’s a documentary, a fiction, a docu-drama or a short movie, each art form will have, in any case, the proper place to be shown. It is precisely this aspect of the festival in Berlin that should concern us most and make us think: the fact that an entire section is devoted to their young Germans directors and not only, as beginners, that might have made even a single film in their short carrier.

The recommendations are fundamental for many other countries in order to obtain permits and funding, the high production costs, which are difficult or impossible to sustain for the most novice filmmakers, in Germany seem to not be an insurmountable obstacle. The German organization, the importance that art plays in this great nation, the huge belief in the younger generation who are the only possibility for a country to avoid the recurrent risk to have an art old and stagnant, are ideas that many other nations, European and not, should take to promote another kind of market and mentality.

There are many benefits from the economic point to those who want to pursue this career, and there are many possible stepping stones to get to oneself the test. But it is above all the spirit of freedom of expression that hovers between the halls of Berlin, the possibility of making films offered to those who still believe in the passion for images, the suggestion of untold stories that make traveling the mind of someone who wants to look far.

But now let’s see who were the winners of this 62° International Berlin Film Festival:

The last time that Italy won a shining Bear was in the far 1991 with “House of smiles” by Marco Ferreri, few days ago the Italians brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani with “Caesar Must Die” won the Golden Bear, bringing a glimmer of hope in the, sometimes, not so brilliant situation of the Italian cinema platform.
This pair of octogenarians decided to adapt themselves to the use of docu-dramas for their latest film, the twentieth to be precise. The protagonists of this exquisite work are the inhabitants of the famous prison of Rebibbia, not far from Rome, struggling with the play of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The art of theatre and art in general is seen as the only source of hope. Dig in the theatrical sphere can provoke the appearance of an imaginary freedom also to those who know that cannot meet it directly, like these inmates. The interpretation of a character, different from your daily you, maybe just for an hour, free to act and to not talk or think about the formal expression of yourself, to be able to formulate thoughts and feelings through the words of Shakespeare’s, can make anyone fly beyond those walls and get to a place, other than an empty cell: the scene, the stage, where everything is possible. It will be released in cinemas on the second of March.

The Silver Bear goes to the Hungarian Bence Fliegauf‘s “Just the Wind” also a touching docu-fiction about the difficult life of a gipsy Romanian family leaving in Hungary. A strong and sensitive story about them living with distress and helplessness of the blind hatred against their community, which led to the killing of five families who lived in the area. Fliegauf took inspiration from real news items.

The Silver Bear for Best Director for the German Christian Petzold’s “Barbara“. Seducing photograph, a well-crafted script, the theme of hospital almost unprecedented in the GDR and a direction that recognizes the versatility of the actors combine with inventiveness. On the closing credits, yet a musical gem recovered: “At Last I Am Free” (1978) by Chic.

Best Actors:

Rachel Mwanza for her performance in “War Witch“. The film has an impressive pathos and realism, tragically real. Rachel Mwanza, who plays Komona, is a girl of 14 who has told his life of enormous sacrifices in Berlin, a girl that too soon became a woman. With simple emotions, she collects the Silver Bear for the best player, the first African woman to win that award, and says: “I will always make films, as long as I live.” We really hope that this important international recognition would help to teach the situation of child soldiers in Africa and bring also an important peace message. The thirty-eight Vietnamese director Nguyen Kim made of his fourth feature and impeccable job.

Mikkel Følsgaard for “A Royal Affair“. The same movie by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg won also a Silver Bear for Best Screenplay. The story took place in Denmark in the eighteenth century, still immersed in the ancient regime, the unhappy married queen falls in love with a German man with revolutionary and Voltairian ideas. It will be of course love, and for the country there will be a short open season. Then the reaction will win. It’s a film that tells an interesting piece of history, but fails to go beyond the flatness of the conventions of the period-drama.

The Silver Bear for an Outstanding Artistic Contribution goes to Director of Photography Lutz Reitemeier for his work on “White Deer Plain” by the Chinese director Wang Quanan. The honor, love, tradition, gender, obedience, and also a wide cross section of Chinese history from the ’10s to the ’30s of the twentieth century. The underlying theme has to do precisely with the emergence of the macro-universe seemingly perennial archaic rural culture ruled by two powerful clans, where the arranged marriages still reign supreme, the role of women merely ancillary, rituals dictated by feudal cyclical alternation of the seasons. And then suddenly all this experienced a change…

The Alfred Bauer Award for opening new perspectives onto cinema goes to Portuguese Miguel Gomes for “Tabu“. The FIPRESCI Jury (International Federation of Film Critics) has announced also one of the three awards for Tabu. In fact, the dimension that gives us this film is the one of a documentary of the first part of the last century, Africa is seen here for the first time not in through the eyes of simple static postcard but more for moving images.

From Portugal as well Golden Bear for Best Short Film for a 28 years old Portuguese director João Salaviza and his “Rafa“, a young boy searching around Lisbon for his mother that one evening didn’t come back. Salaviza won the Palme D’Or to the Festival of Cannes in 2009 with his other successful short movie “Arena”.

Silver Bear for Best Short Film: for the young Japanese Atsushi Wada‘s “The Great Rabbit“. Here you can find his official website.

Special Mention goes to Ursula Meier‘s “Sister” (France).

Special Mention: the first movie of the Turkish Emin Alper‘s “Beyond the Hill“, in reality the movie is a Greek-Turkish co-production. To the same movie goes also the Caligari Prize, donated by the communal cinemas and FILM-DIENST magazine (2000 euros for the director + 2000 euros for financing further screenings in Germany).

The section of Panorama:

Héléna Klotz‘s “Atomic Age“. the film takes place entirely at night, and always in the dark, well-photographed with a Canon 1D by the French 33 years old Helene Louvart, with the help of a second chamber (Julien Samani), using a color range that makes Paris a black hole illuminated by bright spots distant from the characters and action. Stunning images of the Eiffel Tower, a beacon in the night with its circular light above it – perhaps the iconic image of the entire film.

The Panorama Audience Awards:

Best Feature 2012:
- 1st place: a great success for the controversial gay-themed comedy of Srdjan Dragojevic‘s “Parada” (The Parade).
- 2nd place: Daniele Vicari‘s “Diaz, Don’t Clean Up This Blood“.
- 3rd place:Cao Hamburger‘s “Xingu“.

Best Documentary 2012:

- 1st place: to the New York director Matthew Akers‘s “Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present“. Icon of all forms of expression related to the body, the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic is one of the most charming and magnetic protagonists of our time, indispensable for performing arts, pioneer of performance from the 70s, broken patterns and conventions, bringing art into contact with the physical and emotional experience and linking it to life itself.

- 2nd place: Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright‘s “Call Me Kuchu“.
- 3rd place: Namir Abdel Messeeh‘s “La Vierge, les Coptes et Moi” (The Virgin, The Copts and Me).

The Forum section: the Dutch Sacha Polak with “Hemel“. Hemel changes her sexual partners with the same speed with which her father Gijs changes his girlfriends. Since her mother died, Hemel and Gijs have established a relationship of mutual non-intrusiveness and dissociate also from the bonds that intertwine with other people, in order to try to fill the void in their lives.

The independent juries of the Berlinale and also the 22nd NETPAC Award (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) was given to “Modest Reception” by Iranian director Mani Haghighi in Forum section.

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury as well as the Tagesspiegel Readers Jury Award to “The Delay” by Rodrigo Plá.

Award of the Conféderation Internationale des Cinémas D’Art et Essai (C.I.C.A.E.) was given to “Our Homeland” by Yang Yonghi.”

Teddy Awards, is a section focused not on only on cultural issue but also on political responsibility and significance:
- Best Feature Film: Ira Sachs‘s “Keep the Lights On“, describes how and if can love be kept alive after 9years together. So how to make this “light” bright? The time seems that is inexorably passing every day in the same way, how mature love should look like?
- Best Documentary: Malika Zouhall-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright‘s “Call Me Kuchu“.
- Best Short Film: Claudia Llosa’s “Loxoro”.
- Jury Prize: Vincent Dieutre‘s “Jaurès“.

Perspektive Deutsches Kino:
- The Dialogue and perspective prize goes to Marten Persiel‘s “This Ain’t California“.

The Youth Jury in the Generation 14plus:
- Crystal Bear for the Best Feature Film: Reis Çelik‘s “Lal Gece“.
- Special Mention Feature Film: Ella Lemhagen‘s “Kronjuvelerna“.
- Crystal Bear for the Best Short Film: Sam Holst‘s “Meathead“.
- Special Mention Short Film: Isamu Hirabayashi‘s “663114“.

The International Short Film Jury:
- The DAAD Short Film Prize: to Trevor Anderson for “The Man That Got Away“.

- The Berlin Short Film Nominee for the European Film Award: to Justine Triet‘s “Vilaine Fille Mauvais Garçon“.

Recommended also:

- “Jayne Mansfield’s car” is the fourth experience by the director Billy Bob Thornton. Set in Alabama in 1969, the film is the story of two families, one American and one English, and their difficulties in relating with each other. It might seem a simple family drama that oscillates between the easy clichés of widening and the ethics of forgiveness but deeper in the plot it’s possible to find a sharp and detail study on the American identity of the time while shaping its modern contradiction.

- “Iron Sky” by the thirty two years old Finnish Timo Vuorensola. The plot is crazy and if you are concerned with historical developments maybe you will be surprised to see, in the nearly future 2018, a bunch of upset Nazi coming back from the space, the Moon, where they have been hiding for many years after their defeat during War World II. They come back to take their revenge, on the people on the earth. It’s for sure something unusual and spectacular. Don’t take it personally.