Wednesday, February 1, 2012

62nd Berlin International Film Festival (2012)

In just a few short days, the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin) or more commonly referred to as The Berlinale, one of the three major annual film festivals, opens with what promises to be another amazing lineup of films from all over the world.

First held in 1951, the festival has grown to be the largest publicly attended film festival in the world. According to their website there were 485,000 visitors and 300,000 tickets sold at last year's festival.

Films are screened in several categories, including the flagship Main Competition Programme, where this year 18 films will vie for the coveted Golden and Silver Bear prizes awarded by the International Jury. There's also the Panorama section, which focuses on art-house and auteur films from around the globe; the Forum section, covering avant garde, experimental, political minded, and other daring features and documentaries alike;  and the Generation programme, which is dedicated to films for children and young people. With two sections titled Generation Kplus for younger audiences and Generation 14plus focusing on teens and above.  In addition to those, there are special screenings of classics and important films, retrospectives, and homages to internationally renown film personalities, this year's Homage is dedicated to American actress Meryl Streep, and a special screening of her most recent film The Iron Lady will be held at the famed Berlinale Palast.

Read on for a look at the members of the International Jury, and a list of the 23 films showing in the Competition Programme at the 62nd Berlinale:

The 2012 Berlin International Film Festival International Jury

  • Mike Leigh, British film director (Jury President)
  • Anton Corbijn, Dutch filmmaker
  • Asghar Farhadi, Iranian director
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg, French-British actress
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, American actor
  • François Ozon, French director
  • Boualem Sansal, Algerian writer
  • Barbara Sukowa, German actress

The 2012 Berlinale International Jury © Berlinale

The 62nd Berlin International Film Festival Main Competition Programme

À moi seule (Coming Home)
Frédéric Videau France
Agathe Bonitzer, Reda Kateb
World Premiere
A young woman sits at a remote bus stop looking at the image of a missing girl. It is her own photograph; eight years ago, Gaëlle was kidnapped and shut away from the world. Now she has to cope with her traumatic experience and her strange new-found liberty. The film takes the viewer back in time to witness her incredible struggle for survival.
Aujourd'hui (Today)
Alain Gomis France, Senegal
Saül Williams, Aïssa Maïga, Djolof M'bengue
World Premiere
Today is the last day of his life. He knows this to be true even though he is strong and healthy. Nonetheless Satché accepts his imminent death. Walking through the streets of his home town in Senegal he takes in the sites of his past as if he were looking at them for the last time
Bai lu yuan (White Deer Plain)
Wang Quan'an China
Zhang Fengyi, Zhang Yuqi, Wu Gang
World Premiere
Set in the eponymous White Deer Village in Shaanxi Province where the two most important families – Bai and Lu – and their sons have always lived together in peace. But political and social turmoil leads to a fierce struggle for land ownership
Christian Petzold Germany
Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld
World Premiere
Summer in the GDR in 1980. Barbara, a doctor, has submitted an application to emigrate to the West. She is punished by being posted away from the capital to a hospital in a small town. Jörg, her lover in the West, is busy planning her escape via the Baltic Sea. It’s a waiting game for Barbara.
Bel Ami
Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod UK
Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci
World Premiere / Out of Competition
After two years of military service in North Africa ex-sergeant Georges Duroy is now living an impoverished existence in Paris. Willing to do anything to escape his grubby room in the suburbs and, increasingly unscrupulous, he mercilessly exploits influential comrades-in-arms and wealthy women to work his way up the social ladder and into the late nineteenth-century capital’s chicest urbane circles.
Brillante Mendoza France, Philippines, Germany, UK
Isabelle Huppert, Katherine Mulville, Marc Zanetta
World Premiere
A group of armed and masked men belonging to the Muslim Abu Sayyaf group burst into a hotel on an island resort and kidnap twelve foreign guests. The attack was intended to target employees of the World Bank, but they have already left the resort. The abductees are tourists and Christian missionaries who are now forced on a gruelling foot march through the Philippine jungle.
Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die)
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani Italy
Fabio Cavalli, Salvatore Striano
World Premiere
The performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar comes to an end and the performers are rewarded with rapturous applause. The lights go out; the actors leave the stage and return to their cells. They are all inmates of the Roman maximum security prison Rebibbia. One of them comments: ‘Ever since I discovered art this cell has truly become a prison’.
Csak a szél (Just The Wind)
Benedek Fliegauf Hungary, Germany, France
Lajos Sárkány, Katalin Toldi, Gyöngyi Lendvai, György Toldi
World Premiere
News quickly spreads of the murder of a Romany family in a Hungarian village. The perpetrators have escaped and nobody claims to know who might have committed the crime. For another Romany family living close by, the murder only serves to confirm their latent, carefully repressed fears. Far away in Canada the head of the family decides that his wife, children and their grandfather must join him as soon as possible. Living in fear of the racist terror that surrounds them and feeling abandoned by the silent majority, the family tries to get through the day after the attack.
Dictado (Childish Games)
Antonio Chavarrías Spain
Juan Diego Botto, Barbara Lennie, Mágica Pérez
World Premiere
When flaky novelist Mario turns up one day at the school where Daniel teaches, the educator is convinced the writer is a spirit from his repressed past, buried deep in his subconscious. As children, the two might almost have been brothers. But the marriage between Daniel’s father and Mario’s mother never materialised. This unexpected re-encounter brings both families together.
En kongelig affaere (A Royal Affair)
Nikolaj Arcel Denmark, Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden
Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
World Premiere
Johann Friedrich Struensee, town physician and doctor to the poor of Altona – then governed by the King of Denmark – accompanies his monarch in 1768 on the latter’s year-long trip around Europe. During the journey, he gains the trust of the psychologically unstable king and is made his personal physician. But Struensee wants more: together with Queen Caroline Mathilde, who falls in love with the handsome and assertive medic, he increasingly takes over state affairs.
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Stephen Daldry USA
Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Thomas Horn
International Premiere / Out of Competition
Oskar Schell is an alert nine-year-old boy. Like so many other New Yorkers September 9, 2001 is the worst day of his young life because this is the day his father dies in the World Trade Center. The boy discovers a key among his father’s possessions and, believing this to be his only way of maintaining some connection with his beloved father, he begins a furtive search for the corresponding lock.
Matthias Glasner Germany
Jürgen Vogel, Birgit Minichmayr, Henry Stange
World Premiere
Niels is an engineer working at a natural gas liquefying plant based on a tiny island opposite Hammerfest. Maria, a nurse at a hospice for the fatally ill, has decided to join her husband here to support this important career move. The couple seems to have adapted well to this shadowy and sometimes surreal nocturnal world. But one day on her way home from work Maria is involved in an accident; she appears to have run over someone or something. Unable to face up to the situation, she panics and rushes back home. As events take their course this throws up some fundamental questions: is it possible to live your life without mercy or the ability to forgive?
Jayne Mansfield's Car
Billy Bob Thornton Russia, USA
Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon
World Premiere
Alabama in 1969. Jim Caldwell has just learned of his ex-wife’s death. Many years ago, she left him and their three children for an Englishman. Now, her bereaved husband and her two children from this marriage have come to America to fulfil the deceased’s last wish to be buried in the land of her birth. This brings together the two fathers and the half-brothers and sisters. Jim is a typical member of an authoritarian generation who has been a fair if undemonstrative father to his children. Not only does he have to cope with the escapades of his two sons – one a wounded Vietnam veteran obsessed with his collection of cars and the other a drugged-up anti-war protester – he also has to put up with his uninvited British guests.
Jin líng Shí San Chai • 金陵十三釵 (The Flowers Of War)
Zhang Yimou China
Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Atsuro Watabe
European Premiere / Out of Competition
Nanking in 1937. The Japanese invasion plunges the Chinese capital into chaos and destruction. A group of schoolgirls manage to reach relative safety behind the walls of Winchester Cathedral, where they hide in the cellar. An American named John Miller also finds refuge in the cathedral, as do thirteen prostitutes from a nearby brothel. When the Japanese attack the building, the schoolgirls narrowly escape rape as a result of Miller’s valiant intervention. Initially only interested in the convent’s stores of wine and cash, Miller gradually takes on the role of protector.
Kebun binatang (Postcards From The Zoo)
Edwin Indonesia, Germany, Hong Kong, China
Ladya Cheryl, Nicholas Saputra
World Premiere
When Lana was a little girl, her father left her behind in the colourful Jakarta zoo to be raised by zoo keepers. What dreams and longings does a young woman have who has grown up among giraffes, elephants and hippos? Is the cowboy who appears one day and is able to do magic merely a wish summoned into solid form, or is he real? Lana will assist him, and take her first steps outside her familiar world. But as suddenly as he appeared, the cowboy will disappear again by magic. On her own now, Lana begins to work as a masseuse at a spa. But the memory of the cowboy and nostalgia for the seemingly enchanted zoo will not leave her alone.
L'enfant d'en haut (Sister)
Ursula Meier Switzerland, France
Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein, Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston
World Premiere
Every day, twelve-year-old Simon takes the cable car up to the mountains where the slopes bristle with the hustle and bustle of winter season tourists. He pokes about in hotel wardrobes and changing rooms looking for something to eat in rucksacks, but what he’s really after are skis that he can turn into cash. Whenever he talks to holidaymakers or hotel staff, he tells them that his parents died in a car accident and that he lives alone with his sister. Louis, the young woman who lives in the apartment in the valley has no idea what Simon gets up to all day long. Their odd relationship alternates between quarrels and tenderness.
Les Adieux à la reine (Farewell My Queen)
Benoît Jacquot France, Spain
Diane Kruger, Léa Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen
World Premiere
Versailles in July 1789. There’s growing disquiet at the court of King Louis XVI: the people are defiant and the country is on the brink of revolution. Behind the scenes at the royal palaces emergency plans are being made. Although nobody believes that this spells the end of the established order everyone is talking of escape, including Queen Marie Antoinette and her entourage. One of Marie Antoinette’s ladies-in-waiting is Sidonie Laborde who, as the Queen’s reader, is a member of the monarch’s inner circle. Concerned that her escape might fail, the queen gives instructions for the girl to step into her carriage dressed in the queen’s clothes while the queen herself is to escape from the palace unseen at night. At first Sidonie is proud to have such an honour bestowed upon her – but she soon realises that her mistress’ request has nothing to do with her affection for her.
Long Men Fei Jia • 龍門飛甲 (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate)
Tsui Hark Hong Kong, China
Jet Li, Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Kwai Lun Mei
European Premiere / Out of Competition
China at the end of the Ming Dynasty: corrupt eunuchs are terrorising the country with the ‘Western Office’ under Commander Yu leading the way. In rebel fighter Zhao Huai’ an (Jet Li), the ruthless warlord meets his adversary. Good and evil clash at the Dragon Gate Inn, joined by a group of hard-drinking Mongolian tribal warriors. When a sandstorm exposes the golden treasures of an ancient metropolis beneath the inn, more material interests come into play.
Metéora (Meteora)
Spiros Stathoulopoulos Germany, Greece
Theo Alexander, Tamila Koulieva
World Premiere
The legendary Metéora monastery complex in Thessaly is perched on top of imposing sandstone rock pillars. This film tells the story of two of the monasteries’ inhabitants. Theodoros, a Greek monk, lives in spiritual solitude; his existence is a constant round of chanting and ritual. The retreat on top the rock that faces this monastery is so inaccessible that the Russian orthodox nun who lives there has to be let down in a net to the ground below. Torn between his spiritual calling and the simple peasant life in the village that lies at the foot of Metéora, Theodoros feels drawn towards the nun.
Kim Nguyen Canada
Rachel Mwanza, Alain Bastien, Serge Kanyinda
World Premiere
A civil war in Africa. After her village is burned down by rebels and her parents are killed, Komona is forced into the jungle as a child soldier. Her brutal commander not only trains her in the use of arms but also orders her to sleep with him. Searching for shelter amidst the horror, she turns to a slightly older boy with white hair who she calls ‘Magician’ and falls in love with. After they escape from the camp together, Komona does her utmost to return to her village. She wants to bury her parents to prevent them having to eternally wander the wasted land as ghosts …
Shadow Dancer
James Marsh UK, Ireland
Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson
European Premiere / Out of Competition
Even as a child, Collette was to experience at first hand the bloody consequences of the conflict in Northern Ireland when her little brother was killed by British security forces. Years later, Collette is herself now a mother and, like the rest of her family, still involved in the Republican cause. When she is arrested for her part in an aborted IRA bomb plot in London, a British secret service officer offers her a choice: lose everything including her little son and go to prison for twenty-five years or return to Belfast to spy on her own family.
Miguel Gomes Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France
Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta
World Premiere
Aurora, an elderly Portugese woman and her Cap Verdean housekeeper live next door to Pilar, who has made it her aim in life to do good. Not that she receives any gratitude for her efforts – and certainly not from the notoriously mistrustful Aurora, who prefers to spend her remaining years losing her meagre savings at Estoril casino. When the old lady dies, Pilar discovers among her belongings a letter addressed to an old lover. Pilar decides to post the letter, thus ushering in a flashback to the second part of the film – and adventurous amour fou set in colonial Africa.
Was bleibt (Home For The Weekend)
Hans-Christian Schmid Germany
Lars Eidinger, Corinna Harfouch, Sebastian Zimmler, Ernst Stötzner
World Premiere
From time to time Marko makes the journey from Berlin to a provincial town in southern Germany where his parents live in a large house with a swimming pool and a big garden. His father, a once successful publisher, is now retired and working on a book entitled ‘Motifs and Narrative Strategies of the Assyrians and the Sumerians’. He is about to embark on a research trip to the Middle East. Marko’s mother, who is suffering from depression, is to stay at home. Thankfully there’s another son, Jakob. Dad financed his dental practice. Although Jakob doesn’t have many patients and is largely saddled with debts, he will at least be able to keep an eye on Mum while Dad’s away. And so they come together for one of their family weekends. Mum begins by announcing that she’s stopped taking her pills. A short while later she disappears. Everyone panics; they scour the neighbourhood and call the police. But, after a while, they begin to face up to a life without Mum.

Inside the Berlinale Palast © Berlinale
There are several titles here that I'm looking forward to seeing. Coming Home looks like an intense and disturbing psychological film. Captive is based on true events, and Isabelle Huppert is always amazing. Just the Wind from young Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf, one of my current favorites, is another one that sounds riveting. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is not in competition but the combo of Tsui Hark and Jet Li is too enticing to miss. Sister also sounds intriguing, I loved Ursula Meier's first film Home so I have high hopes for this one. Meteora has an amazing setting that I'm sure will look absolutely stunning on film.

What do you think of this year's Berlinale lineup? Which one's are you most looking forward to seeing?


Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah that is a great jury.  Stay tuned, I hope to do a catchup post covering some of the early reviews and news from Berlin sometime during the week.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 I've not heard about that Serbian film, it sounds interesting.

NeverTooEarlyMP said...

Thanks for posting all of these. I had heard that Leigh and Farhadi were both on the jury, but somehow missed that Jake Gyllenhaal was too!

For me the most interesting ones sound like Today, Caesar Must Die, Captive, Dictado, A Royal Affair, Gnade, Postcards From A Zoo, Farewell My Queen, Rebelle and Home For The Weekend. 

I suspect that Bel Ami and Jane Mansfield's Car will actually show up at a theater near me before the other ones do though.

DEZMOND said...

This year's biggest blockbuster in Serbia PARADE will also be shown in Berlin, it's a bitter sweet dramedy about gay parade in very traditional Serbia.
And that crazy Finnish film IRON SKY also premieres in Berlin, but that one is really crazy :)

365 moviesandsongs365 said...

Hope I'll get to see a few of these later in the year. May the best films win ( :

The Reel Foto said...

So many films, so little time.... :(

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks Diana.  Yes there are so many titles that look good here it's impossible to predict.  I will be following all the early reactions closely though.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's true, the success of A Separation this year has really given Berlin a boost, and it's nice to see Farhadi in the jury.  Last year's lineup didn't look nearly as exciting as this one beforehand.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 Yeah really the majority of them sound great.  I wish I was going too.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

No Joel, I have never been.  I can only follow it from afar.  Perhaps one day I will be invited like  FrontRoomCinema here.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

 LOL if that was me, I would seriously consider doing that.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Wow, that is so cool.  Maybe it's time to look for a German correspondent for FRC.

Diana said...

Lovely post and very informative, thank you for it! For me, Coming Home, Today, Just the wind, Sister, Shadow Dancer, Gnade, Farewell my queen- they all sound interesting! Curious to see who is going to win, the competitors are very good and the  Berlin festival always offers fantastic movies and awards nominees!

Amir said...

I have a feeling with the success of A Separation, a lot more people will look more seriously at Berlinale. It might not live up to Cannes or Venice in terms of auteur wattage, but hey, how many non-Iranians were really familiar with Farhadi's previous work this time last year? There might be more gems here for all we know.

d_4 said...

Just.. completely new to this. I look forward to just seeing how it goes at all.

Lisa Thatcher said...

Great post, and it looks like a brilliant line up this year. Postcards from the Zoo and Today look interesting as well. Really wish I was going!

Lisa Thatcher said...

OMG!  Can you sell your car... house... children? 
I'd LOVE to be there for this festival. It looks amazing this year!

Joel Burman said...

Such a nice intro to the Berlinale. Are you visiting it on a regular basis? Last year I coordinated the Berlinale market appearance for a Sales Agent (unfortunately did not get to go myself) and a couple of years ago I visited the festival and saw the Good German there. 

FrontRoomCinema said...

Can you believe I got an invite to this? The blinking Berlin Festival... I got the invite yesterday... Like I am ever going to be able to get the cash together to go!! curse you life!!

The Angry Lurker said...

Thanks for that, interesting jury......

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