Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Berlin International Film Festival: Opening Day

Today was the opening day of the year's first major film festival, the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 17.

Press conferences were held to introduce the official competition jury and the opening film, one of the decade's most anticipated titles, The Grandmaster, directed by Jury President Wong Kar Wai, ahead of the evening's gala events.

Also in the International Jury are Danish Academy Award winning director Suzanne Bier (In a Better World); German director Andreas Dresen; American director and cinematographer Ellen Kuras; Iranian director Shirin Neshat; American actor Tim Robbins; and Greek producer and director Athina Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg)

The Berlinale International Jury: Tim Robbins, Andreas Dresen, Shirin Neshat, Wong Kar Wai, Suzanne Bier, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Ellen Kuras
  • Day 1 - Thursday, February 7

  • Opening Film - Out of Competition
    一代宗师 • Yi dai zong shi • The Grandmaster
    directed by Wong Kar Wai
    Hong Kong, China
    A few quotes from the press conference:

    Wong Kar Wai: I wanted to introduce to the world audience, about where we came from and who we were. I hope this film can bring the audience a new perspective about martial arts, kung fu, and also Chinese.

    Tony Leung on his many collaborations with WKW: This time was really special for me. I had a real character to work on, and I had the chance to learn Kung Fu.

    Zhang Ziyi: I feel like the luckiest actress in the world. If WKW asked me to give this amount of time again (20 months of shooting over 3 years) I would do it again.

    Critical response, sadly not all glowing, but generally good:
    "Venturing into fresh creative terrain without relinquishing his familiar themes and stylistic flourishes, Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai exceeds expectations fashioning a 1930s action saga into a refined piece of commercial filmmaking." - Maggie Lee (Variety)

    "Wong Kar Wai has crafted the best-looking martial arts film since Zhang Yimou's Hero, and the most successful marriage of kung fu and classic romance since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" - James Marsh (Twitch)

    "Barely illuminating as a biography and quietly anticlimactic as a kung fu epic, Wong Kar-wai’s years-in-the-making project on the real-life Wing Chun master who famously trained Bruce Lee, is nonetheless a kind of cinematic feat. - Edmund Lee (Screen Daily)

    "All of Zhang Ziyi’s considerable powers can’t compensate for our lack of emotional investment in Ip Man himself, and all of Wong's undeniable visual flair can't conceal the haphazard nature of the story." - Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)

    "The finished product remains satisfyingly in tune with the contemplative nature of the director's other work, only breaking his trance-like approach to drama for the occasional showcasing of martial arts techniques." - Eric Kohn (Criticwire)
    Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Ziyi
    (Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Europe)
Our other coverage of the 63rd Berlinale:


d_4 said...

Edmund Lee up there kinda stung. Good thing it was just an opening film.. yikes

365 moviesandsongs365 said...

Thanks for Grandmaster review round-up, BT.

Murtaza Ali said...

Well... The Grandmaster has got me really excited... thanks for bringing it up. Just can't wait for more such updates from the Berlin Film Festival!!!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Sounds like it's not a masterpiece, still I can't wait to see it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks for reading!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Actually his full review isn't completely negative, and despite the tempered critical response overall it is still at the top of my must see list.

filmnohito said...

The reviews for The Grandmaster have been mixed but it sounds better than My Blueberry Nights and as far as I am concerned any Wong Kar-Wai is good cinema!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

From what I've been able to translate, the Asian critics seemed to love it more than the Western ones. Maybe the culture gap has something to do with the mixed reviews we're seeing. As you said, any WKW is good cinema, and I'll still very excited for it regardless of what people have written.

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