Wednesday, February 15, 2012

62nd Berlin International Film Festival (2012) Report

We're now midway through the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. With many of the first gems of 2012 already or about to be screened at the famed Berlinale Palast.

Let's have a closer look at some of the images and initial critical reception for the films in the 2012 Berlinale Competition Programme.

View from outside the Berlinale Palast
  • Day 1 - Thursday, February 9

  • Opening Film - In Competition
    Les adieux à la Reine (Farewell My Queen) by Benoït Jacquot

    "Benoit Jacquot's venom-tipped account of palatial intrigue and royal oblivion scrupulously maintains a servant's-eye view but winds up holding the viewer at an unrewarding distance." - Justin Chang (Variety) "Often regarded with critical suspicion (especially when it comes to festival opening films), the genre of historical drama gets an honourable dust-down with Farewell My Queen" - Jonathan Romney (Screen Daily) "Farewell, My Queen is a visual joy, even while its tale of a lower class girl at court infatuated with the Queen of France labors to say something relevant." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Lea Seydoux, Diane Kruger, Virginie Ledoyen
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 2 - Friday, February 10

  • Competition Film
    Aujourd'hui (Today) by Alain Gomis

    "The film is slow and reveals little but somehow there is enough to keep the audience intrigued." - Kezia Tooby (Flick Feast) "What’s refreshing is that unlike so many France-based directors whose excursions into Africa are marred by the patronizing quaintness of colonialist guilt, Gomis balances respect for his cultural setting with healthy observational detachment and emotional economy." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter) "Saul Williams, an established hip hop/spoken word poet best known as an actor for his lead performance in Slam accurately conveys the character's continuing sense of dislocation as he faces the abrupt nature of life." - Eric Kohn (Indiewire)
    Saul Williams, Alain Gomis, Aissa Maiga
    (Photo by Bauer Griffin)
    Competition Film
    A moi seule (Coming Home) by Frédéric Videau

    "Rather than providing the kind of distanced clinical drama that’s become a staple of Euro fest fare, Videau offers up a surprisingly tender, and even occasionally funny portrait of the hate, confusion and undeniable affection that arises from such a long-term relationship between kidnapper and victim." - Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter) "A Moi Seule is an interesting film which seems to have plenty to say but doesn’t quite succeed in saying it." - Kezia Tooby (Flick Feast) "In attempting to give equal consideration to both violator and victim, to both trauma and recovery, Videau’s film bites off a little more than it can chew" - Guy Lodge (Hitfix)
    Noemie Lvovsky, Reda Kateb, Frederic Videau, Agathe Bonitzer
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 3 - Saturday, February 11

  • Competition Film
    Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die) by Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani

    "An intriguing, at times impressive, curiosity that could be sprung from fest lock-up for short-term parole on limited arthouse screens." - Jay Weissberg (Variety) "Narratively, this functions like a cold exercise in meta storytelling, but the Tavianis validate their project with its basis in reality." - Eric Kohn (Indiewire) "Flaws notwithstanding, this is a stimulating marriage between theater and harsh reality." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Barbara by Christian Petzold

    "Cleanly composed picture finds Petzold working in a subdued register perfectly in step with the private longings and thought processes of his equally circumspect characters." - Justin Chang (Variety) "Masterful stuff. A-" - Kevin B. Lee (Press Play) "Nina Hoss unfolds her character magnificently, starting off by giving Barbara a frosty mask of total detachment, then slowly thawing her until the contradictions in her compassionate, defiant personality flicker with compelling subtlety between the lines of the action." - Jonathan Romney (Screen Daily)
    Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Hoss, Christian Petzold
    (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Dictado (Childish Games) by Antonio Chavarrías

    "There are some intriguing touches, such as the surreal dream sequences, and the atmosphere does at times become quite involving. But this story of isolation, guilt and memory is just too predictable a thriller" - Owen Van Spall (Eye For Film) "Premise is strong, but by-the-books development hamstrings this Spanish psychological thriller about a man haunted by a childhood prank" - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter) "Simmering, intense and intriguingly balanced between the natural and the supernatural before it spirals out of control in its final reel" - Jonathan Holland (Variety)
    Antonio Chavarrías, Barbara Lennie, Mágica Pérez, Juan Diego Botto
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 4 - Sunday, February 12

  • Competition Film
    Metéora by Spiros Stathoulopoulos

    "Unevenness of tone keeps tripping the helmer up, and by the end auds will wonder what exactly he's trying to say beyond noting the difficulty of suppressing desire." - Jay Weissberg (Variety) "Within the framework of testing the bonds of religious devotion against the carnal urges of physical life, Stathoulopoulos film adds very little to the canon" - Fionnuala Halligan (Screen Daily) "The symbolism is obvious, but its over-the-top quality is what’s glorious about it." - Stephanie Zacharek (Movieline)
    Theo Alexander, Tamila Koulieva, Spiros Stathoulopoulos
    (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Captive by Brillante Mendoza

    "Captive is a strong, intense film experience that is a great jumping on point if you have never experienced Mendoza's work before." - Owen Van Spall (Eye For Film) "Capturing a terrifying 12-month ordeal to harrowing if finally enervating effect, the film exerts a queasy power that gradually gives way to lumbering issues of government indifference" - Justin Chang (Variety) "While the film has enough action and realism to keep from being dull, it is so predictable in intent and execution that it should hurry to find safe haven with TV audiences after making a few specialized theatrical stops." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Sid Lucero, Isabelle Huppert, Brillante Mendoza, Katherine Mulville
    Out of Competition
    Shadow Dancer by James Marsh

    "Marsh's creation lacks the true ferocity it needs to ascend from thrill seeking mediocrity to cinematic greatness." - Jordan M. Smith (Ion Cinema) "Marsh is a ruthlessly intelligent filmmaker, and while Shadow Dancer doesn't quite reach the heights of his nonfiction work, it's still a fine piece of cinematic craftsmanship." - Jason Bailey (Fourth Row Center) "Incredibly mundane and completely lacking in suspense, Shadow Dancer has neither the dramatic power or social importance to become little more than a late night thriller." - Patrick Gamble (Cine-Vue)
    Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 5 - Monday, February 13

  • Competition Film
    L'enfant d'en haut (Sister) by Ursula Meier

    "With a moving lead turn from youngster Kacey Mottet Klein and strong craft contributions from Claire Denis regulars Agnes Godard and Nelly Quettier, Sister could slalom around Euro territories all the way to select offshore theatres." - Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter) "Seydoux is perfectly cast as the young woman who clearly cares for her little brother but who's not mature enough to take things into her own hands. But the star of Sister is undoubtedly Mottet Klein, for whom Meier specifically conceived the project." - Boyd Van Hoeij (Variety) "French-Swiss director Ursula Meier weaves a compelling Dardennes-style drama out of two contrasting worlds" - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    Lea Seydoux, Ursula Meier
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Jayne Mansfield's Car by Billy Bob Thornton

    "Fitfully amusing, punctuated with occasional unexpected moody moments and littered with intriguing performances, but is essentially too scattershot and unfocussed to attract a mainstream audience." - Mark Adams (Screen Daily) "The best thing one can say about Jayne Mansfield's Car, Billy Bob Thornton's loopy family drama about a group of eccentric American southerners in 1969, is that it's not quite as bad as it looks." - Eric Kohn (Indie Wire) "As a nearly stageplay-like showcase for some extremely watchable actors, it is diverting enough to almost compensate for its awkwardness in other areas. Almost." - Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)
    Ray Stevenson, John Hurt, Katherine La Nasa, Billy Bob Thornton
    (Photo by Bauer Griffin)
  • Day 6 - Tuesday, February 14

  • Competition Film
    Was bleibt (Home For The Weekend) by Hans-Christian Schmid

    "Schmid and Lange have nothing radically new to say about unhappiness and madness among the upper middle classes, but this is still a tale worth telling, executed with nimble filmmaking and topnotch assists from the cast." - Leslie Felperin (Variety) "Hans-Christian Schmid’s ensemble film pretty much takes care of the expected moves, but then also offers some less predictable turns in an elegant, economical and superbly acted mapping of psychological undercurrents and (not always explicit) family relations." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily) "That may look like the groundwork for a predictable scenario, but Lange’s sober, reflective script avoids going down obvious roads." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Lars Eldinger, Corinna Harfouch, Hans-Christian Schmid, Bernd Lange
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Tabu by Miguel Gomes

    "With its offbeat structure, and split story threads, Tabu will require some critical endorsement, but its whimsical flights of fancy should help it into strong art-house sales and the festival circuit." - Fionnuala Halligan (Screen Daily) "Nearly uncategorizable and strictly for patient arthouse crowds, yet those who wait are likely to come away still puzzled but deeply moved." - Jay Weissberg (Variety) "Fest audiences in particular will find it a welcome attempt to break new ground. The structure itself is amusingly unbalanced." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Ivo Mueller, Rui Pocas, Luis Urbano, Teresa Madruga, Miguel Gomes, Ana Moreira
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 7 - Wednesday, February 15

  • Competition Film
    Kebun binatang (Postcards From The Zoo) by Edwin

    "By far the strongest element is the Ragunan Zoo itself, which, with its inherent tension between natural and unnatural, abundant greenery and man-made enclosures, makes for a gorgeous study in alienation." - Justin Chang (Variety) "Edwin and regular cinematographer Sidi Saleh capture some truly magical moments within Ragunan, especially in many of the scenes of friendly human-animal interaction." - Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter) "Sweet and playful as a baby monkey, but with the lumbering pace of a hippo, the film has shades of both Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang (particularly Monrak Transistor) and Japanese manga guru Hayao Miyazaki (particularly Spirited Away) – in fact it feels a little as if the former had adapted and directed a script by the latter." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    Nicholas Saputra, Ladya Cheryl, Edwin
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Bai lu yuan (White Deer Plain) by Wang Quan'an

    "Though the whole cast is strong and efficient throughout and though there’s no shortage of action, the film is oddly devoid of emotional involvement." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter) "It takes a certain kind of talent to spoil such an opportunity as having the first censor-approved mainland Chinese film to feature a woman peeing on a man’s face." - Kevin B. Lee (Press Play) "It’s nice to look at, but three hours is a bit too much." - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)
    Zhang Fengyi, Zhang Yuqi, Wang Quan'an, Duan Yihong
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 8 - Thursday, February 16

  • Competition Film
    Csak a szél (Just The Wind) by Bence Fliegauf

    "Offers a gritty, low-key depiction of its characters' lives intercut with lyrical shots of the natural landscape." - Alissa Simon (Variety) "This looks very much like a documentary, but it isn’t. A test of endurance for most audiences, requiring enormous patience and curiosity." - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily) "There are strains of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu in the film’s 24-hour-ticking-clock structure, and Fliegauf mixes the foreboding backstory of one with the handheld, documentary intensity of the other to create an atmosphere that’s consistently menacing and strikingly realistic." - Jordan Mintzer (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Bence Fliegauf, Gyongyi Lendva, Katalin Toldi, Lajos Sarkany
    (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Gnade (Mercy) by Matthias Glasner

    "For all the story’s power and the actors’ bravura, there’s something too mechanically plotted about the drama, and too prettily stylised about the direction, which keeps the audience outside looking in." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily) "Beautiful night-time helicopter shots of the Arctic town only enhance this rare drama that is actually every bit as profound as it aspires to be." - Robert Beames (Beames on Film) "This gripping if ostentatiously spare film boasts pristine production values, topped by lustrous lensing of Norwegian locales, and a tersely moving performance from Birgit Minichmayr" - Guy Lodge (Variety)
    Birgit Minchmayr, Matthias Glasner, Juergen Vogel
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 9 - Friday, February 17

  • Competition Film
    En Kongelig Affaere (A Royal Affair) by Nikolaj Arcel

    "a richly satisfying affair which tells an extraordinary true story of political change and royal intrigue with impeccable production values, charismatic actors and gorgeous gowns and wigs" - Mike Goodridge (Screen Daily) "A perfectly decent, lavishly mounted costume drama, probably above average for this sort of thing, but hardly earth-shattering and certainly not the best film we've seen so far." - Jessica Kiang (The Playlist) "Admirers of classy costume drama and European history enthusiasts will eat up this well-crafted Danish production." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Nikolaj Arcel, Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Competition Film
    Rebelle (War Witch) by Kim Nguyen

    "The refreshing surprise is how impressively Canadian-based writer-helmer Kim Nguyen, little known beyond fantasy fest circles, handles the material, displaying a maturity, panache and emotional marksmanship that will elevate his reputation several notches." - Leslie Felperin (Variety) "A festival item per excellence, it is bound to travel around the world, but selling it to paying audiences may not be an easy task." - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily) "The story is underlined by Nguyen’s exceptional and varied choice of contemporary African music, respectfully setting events in their own cultural framework, like local sorcery and magic." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Kim Nguyen, Rachel Mwanza
    (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
    Out of Competition
    Bel Ami by Delcan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod

    "Showy cast and costume-drama frippery will draw some patrons, but word of mouth won't be amiable enough to push the picture beyond arthouse love nests." - Justin Chang (Variety) "Has the feeling of a film that can’t quite decide on its structure and central story." - Mark Adams (Screen Daily) "A flavorless literary adaptation sunk by a lead actor, screenwriter and co-directors that are all out of their depth." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Christina Ricci, Robert Pattinson
    (Photo by Bauer Griffin)
    Out of Competition
    Flying Swords of Dragon Gate by Tsui Hark

    "Feeling more like a playful reenactment of a random chapter in Chinese history, this would probably be more appropriate as a leisure cinema fare over the weekends." - J-SON (SON:sation) "Tsui Hark continues to impress and this film is a deserving picture of how hard work, meticulous planning, perseverance and a clear vision can pay off." - ( "Thrilling action and the best use of 3D since ‘Avatar’- pity the frenetic overplotting, the underwritten characters and most of all, an underused Jet Li" - Gabriel Chong (movieXclusive)
    Yu Dong, Zhou Xun, Tsui Hark, Kwai Lun Mei, Shi Nansun
    (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
  • Day 10 - Saturday, February 18
  • Award Ceremony
    Golden Bear
    • Best Film: Caesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die) by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani
    Silver Bear
    • Jury Grand Prix: Csak a szél (Just the Wind) by Bence Fliegauf
    • Best Director: Christian Petzold for Barbara
    • Best Actress: Rachel Mwanza in Rebelle
    • Best Actor: Mikkel Boe Følsgaard in En kongelig affaere
    • Outstanding Artistic Contribution (Camera): Lutz Reitemeier for Bai Lu Yuan (White Deer Plain)
    • Best Script: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg for En Kongelig Affaere (A Royal Affair)
    • Alfred Bauer Prize: Tabu by Miguel Gomes
    • Special Mention: Sister by Ursula Meier
    Honorary Golden Bear
    • Meryl Streep
    Crystal Bear (Generation Kplus Children's Jury)
    • Best Film: Arcadia by Olivia Silver
    • Special Mention: Kikoeteru, furi wo sita dake by Kaori Imaizumi
    • Best Short Film: Julian by Matthew Moore
    • Special Mention: B I N O by Billie Pleffer
    Crystal Bear (Generation 14plus Youth Jury)
    • Best Film: Lal Gece (Night of Silence) by Reis Çelik
    • Special Mention: Kronjuvelerna (The Crown Jewels) by Ella Lemhagen
    • Best Short Film: Meathead by Sam Holst
    • Special Mention: 663114 by Isamu Hirabayashi
    Best First Feature
    • Kauwboy by Boudewijn Koole
    FIPRESCI Prizes
    • Competition: Tabu by Miguel Gomes
    • Panorama: L'âge atomique (Atomic Age) by Héléna Klotz
    • Forum: Hemel by Sacha Polak
    Prizes of the Ecumenical Jury
    • Competition: Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die) by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani
    • Panorama: Die Wand (The Wall) by Julian Roman Pölsler
    • Forum: La demora (The Delay) by Rodrigo Plá
    Golden Bear (Short Film)
    • Best Short Film: Rafa by João Salaviza
  • Day 11 - Sunday, February 19

  • Closing Film - Golden Bear Winner
    Caesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die)
    The Berlinale Bear at Potsdamer Platz
    Check back for the latest updates and reviews!
    I'll be updating this post daily until the end of the festival.


    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks Diana! It was a lot of work, but since I was already looking up these photos and reviews for fun, I figured other people might find it handy to have it all in one place. I also can't wait for Cannes. It's my favorite one of all.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

     Thanks for checking it out, Margaret. I'm glad you found it useful.

    Diana said...

    Thank you so much for the coverage of the festival, I am very interested in these types of events (I can't wait for Cannes). That's a lot of work put into it, so thank you!

    Margaret said...

    Thanks so much for writing this post, I was looking forr good coverage of the festival, because the news sites only posted very scattered info or just reviews or movies.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks CT! By this time last year we had A Separation and The Turin Horse. This year there's still no buzz film like that with only 4 remaining. Though of course we've only got a limited sample of reviews to go by. I guess we will soon see.

    CastorTroy said...

    Great recap BT! No clear frontrunner getting ahead of the pack it seems but it's not all that surprising. It's still very early in the year!

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Yeah they all seem to have mixed reviews without any one clear favorite standing out.

    Needless to say I am very jealous that you are there. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Rebelle.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks Julien. I'm ashamed to say I've not actually seen any of Petzold's films yet. A shortcoming I hope to correct very soon.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks G. I too am a sucker for Miss Kruger. She's gorgeous, brilliant, and speaks 3 languages perfectly.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Yeah although I haven't seen any of his other work, Tabu sounds like my type of film.

    Thanks for stopping by, Maria Sofia.

    Christine said...

    I'm really not hearing any strong buzz about one particular film.  I'm looking forward to seeing Rebelle on Friday.  This year is just not feeling as strong as last year.  We'll see how it turns out...

    d_4 said...

    No fair, half way through I can't see opinions anymore! I'll just wait. A few of these sound interesting. Sad to see a few of those negative views on there.

    Julien said...

    Thank you Bonjour Tristesse for the review/overview of the festival: clearly what we need when you don't have the luck to be in Berlin. I hope Christian Petzold film will be picked up by a UK distributor. 

    G said...

    I'm a sucker for anything with Diane Kruger in.
    Great post - can't wait to see who wins

    Maria Sofia Teixeira said...

    I was glad to know that Gomes's film was well received. There are some really interesting films here, thank you for this!

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks Michaël.  I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Yeah, well all I can say is I'm glad most of these critics are not jury members. I wish there was greater early English language coverage of these films. Variety, THR, and Screen seem to be the only outlets posting same day reactions.

    I do like the sound of Barbara and Sister, but I also think Tabu has a strong chance at the moment. It seems very different and could appeal to the jury.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Haha, more often then not they make me do that too.

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    Thanks Scott. 

    About Diane, I don't think so. She was looking at me :)

    Michaël Parent said...

    Superb article BT! Many of those are very promising! I'll be checking back to learn more about the winners of this event! Thanks for this relevant information.

    DEZMOND said...

    I would love to watch  "A Royal Affair", always loved Mads Mikkelsen!

    NeverTooEarlyMP said...

    Thanks for doing this. Sounds like Barbara, Sister and Captive might be the  front-runners at the midpoint?

    The Angry Lurker said...

    Thanks for the heads up, some of the critics comments make me laugh and sigh......

    FrontRoomCinema said...

    What a fantastic round up BT. Thanks for this. Made an interesting read...

    Diane Kruger is super sexy, look at the cheeky look in her eye... she wants me

    Bonjour Tristesse said...

    The critics loved Tabu, and there was plenty of grumbling on twitter after Caesar Must Die was announced.

    We'll have to see how much momentum it keeps through the rest of the year.

    NeverTooEarlyMP said...

    It's really interesting to read the reviews of Caesar Must Die now that it's won. When I saw them the first time they read a bit more harsh, but now I can't help but read the more positive half. Funny how our perspective changes so easily! Thanks again for doing these updates. 

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