Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 10

Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz, Sils Maria Photocall © AFP
  • Day 10 - Friday, May 23

  • Recap of the tenth and final day of premieres at the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    The final two Compétition films were screened today:
    • Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas (France).

      The latest from acclaimed French director Olivier Assayas who makes his fourth competition appearance at Cannes. A film in English starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Kristen Stewart, and Juliette Binoche.

      Official Synopsis:
      At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena.
    • Leviathan (Левиафан) by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia).

      The Russian director returns to Cannes for the third time with his fourth feature film. He previously received the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize (2011: Elena).

      Official Synopsis:
      A modern day retelling of the Biblical story of Jobs set in contemporary Russia.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 9

Ken Loach, Photocall for Jimmy's Hall © AFP
  • Day 9 - Thursday, May 22

  • Recap of the ninth day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • Jimmy's Hall by Ken Loach (UK, Ireland, France).

      The latest from the veteran British director, who screens his work in the main competition for the twelfth (rumored to be the final) time in his much decorated career. Loach is a previous winner of the Palme d'Or (2006: The Wind that Shakes the Barley), and the Jury Prize on three separate occasions, the most recent being for (2011: The Angels' Share).

      Official Synopsis:
      In 1921, Jimmy Gralton's sin was to build a dance hall on a rural crossroads in Ireland, where young people could come to learn, to argue, to dream... but above all to dance and have fun.
    • Mommy by Xavier Dolan (Canada).

      After paying his dues in the Directors' Fortnight and Un Certain Regard sections, the young Canadian director makes his main competition debut, with his fifth feature film in as many years.

      Official Synopsis:
      A widowed single mom finds herself burdened with the full-time custody of her explosive 15-year-old ADHD son. As they try to make ends meet and struggle with their impetuous and unpredictable ménage, the new girl across the street, Kyla, benevolently offers needed support. Together, they find a new sense of balance, and hope is regained.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Charlie's Country by Rolf de Heer (Australia).

      For his fourteenth feature film, the previous Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize winner (2006: Ten Canoes), returns to Cannes with a film co-written and starring friend and frequent collaborator, Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil (Walkabout).

      Official Synopsis:
      Blackfella Charlie is out of sorts. The intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of whitefella laws now. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in so doing sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.
    • Misunderstood (Incompresa) by Asia Argento (Italy, France).

      The Italian film star makes her first trip to the section, with her third feature film as a director. Charlotte Gainsbourg co-stars.

      Official Synopsis:
      Aria is a 9 year-old girl who unwillingly finds herself to live the violent separation of her parents, drifted apart from her half-sisters in an extended family. Her parents do not love her as much as she would like. Aria, pulled back and forth in the conflict between her father and her mother, rejected and pushed away, walks through the city with a striped bag and a black cat, touching the abyss and the tragedy and just trying to protect her innocence.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 8

Michel Hazanavicius and Bérénice Bejo at the Photocall for The Search © FDC / K. Vygrivach
  • Day 8 - Wednesday, May 21

  • Recap of the eighth day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • The Search by Michel Hazanavicius (France, Georgia).

      The latest from the Academy Award winning director of 2011's The Artist. This is his second time in the main competition programme.

      Official Synopsis:
      The Second Chechen War. 1999. THE SEARCH recounts, on a human scale, a powerful story of conflict told through four lives that will be brought together by a shocking twist of fate.
    • Goodbye to Language (Adieu au language) by Jean-Luc Godard (France).

      This 3D film, is the seventh time in the competition lineup for the legendary New Wave director.

      Official Synopsis:
      The idea is simple: A married woman and a single man meet. They love, they argue, fists fly. A dog strays between town and country. The seasons pass.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Fantasia by Wang Chao (China).

      The former Un Certain Regard award winner (2006: Luxury Car), represents the only film from China in the section.

      Official Synopsis:
      Father got leukaemia. Mother was laid off long ago. She had to borrow money for her husband everywhere. Sister went to a night club to be a waitress secretly and soon became a “call girl”. Lin was cold-shouldered at school because of father’s illness.
    • Snow in Paradise by Andrew Hulme (UK).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      Based on a true story. Dave is a petty criminal who thrives on drugs and violence in London’s East End. When his actions kill his best friend Tariq he’s propelled into unknown feelings of shame and remorse. He discovers Islam and begins to find peace until his old life of crime comes back to test his new belief.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 7

Cannes Red Carpet © FDC
  • Day 7 - Tuesday, May 20

  • Recap of the seventh day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (Belgium, France, Italy).

      The two-time Palme d'Or winning Belgian duo (1999: Rosetta, 2005: The Child) return to Cannes with a feature starring Marion Cotillard. Their first film with an international star in the lead role.

      Official Synopsis:
      Sandra has only one weekend to visit her colleagues and - with the help of her husband - convince them to sacrifice their bonuses so she can keep her job.
    • Still the Water (2つ目の窓) by Naomi Kawase (Japan).

      This is the fifth trip to the Croisette from the Japanese director, and her fourth time in the main selection. It's shot on Amami Oshima, a tropical island south of Japan.

      Official Synopsis:
      On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend Kyoko will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery. Together, Kaito and Kyoko will learn to become adults by experiencing the interwoven cycles of life, death and love.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Titli by Kanu Behl (India).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      In the badlands of Delhi's underbelly, Titli, the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood, plots a desperate bid to escape the 'family' business.
    • Lost River by Ryan Gosling (USA).

      The American filmmaker also competes for the Camera d'Or with his first feature film as a writer-director. A modern day fairytale starring Christina Hendricks and Iain de Caestecker.

      Official Synopsis:
      Set against the surreal dreamscape of a vanishing city, Billy, a single mother of two, is swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld while her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an underwater town. Both Billy and Bones must dive deep into the mystery if their family is to survive.
    • The Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (France).

      A look at the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, as revealed to us by his son Juliano, and by celebrated German director Wim Wenders.

      Official Synopsis:
      During the last forty years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever changing humanity. He has witnessed the major events of our recent history ; international conflicts, starvations and exodus… He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of the wild fauna and flora, of grandiose landscapes : a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet's beauty.

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 6

Cannes Red Carpet © FDC
  • Day 6 - Monday, May 19

  • Recap of the sixth day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • Foxcatcher by Bennett Miller (USA).

      The Academy Award nominated director of Moneyball and Capote makes his Cannes debut, with this, his third feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      Based on true events, FOXCATCHER tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers.
    • Maps to the Stars by David Cronenberg (Canada, Germany).

      The veteran Canadian director returns to the main competition for the fifth time, with an ensemble cast that includes Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, Olivia Williams, Sarah Gadon, and Evan Bird.

      Official Synopsis:
      A tour into the darkly comic heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • A Girl At My Door by July Jung (South Korea).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with her first feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      Only people who live under the weight of the world’s prejudices can recognize the preciousness of the people around them...
    • Xenia by Panos H. Koutras (Greece, France, Belgium).

      This is the Greek director's fourth feature film, and first time at Cannes.

      Official Synopsis:
      After the death of their mother, Dany, leaves Crete to join his older brother, Odysseas, who lives in Athens. Born from an Albanian mother and a Greek father they never met, the two brothers, strangers in their own country, decide to go to Thessaloniki to look for their father and force him to officially recognize them. At the same time in Thessaloniki, is held the selection for the cult show, “Greek Star.” Dany dreams that his brother Odysseas, a gifted singer, could become the new star of the contest, in a country that refuses to accept them.
    • Bird People by Pascale Ferran (France).

      Winner of the Camera d'Or (1993: Coming to Terms with the Dead). The French director, probably best known for her multiple Cesar award winning 2006 film Lady Chatterley, returns to Cannes with her fourth feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      In the Paris airport zone, two strangers are trying to make sense out of their lives: an American engineer under professional and emotional pressure who decides to radically change the course of his life, and a young hotel chambermaid who faces a life-altering supernatural experience.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 4-5

Grand Théâtre Lumière © FDC
  • Day 4 & 5 - Saturday-Sunday, May 16-17

  • Recap of the first weekend (Days 4 & 5) of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Four Compétition films were screened:
    • Saint Laurent by Bertand Bonello (France).

      This is the French director's third time in the main competition. A biopic of the legendary French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

      Official Synopsis:
      As one of History's greatest fashion designers entered a decade of freedom, neither came out of it in one piece.
    • Wild Tales by Damián Szifrón (Argentina, Spain).

      The Argentinian director makes his Cannes debut with a compendium of six short films involving revenge.

      Official Synopsis:
      Vulnerable before a reality that can suddenly be modified and become unpredictable, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line that divides civilization from brutality. A story about love deception, the return of the past, a tragedy, or even the violence contained in an everyday detail, appear themselves to push them towards the abyss, into the undeniable pleasure of losing control.
    • The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones (USA).

      In 2005, Jones made his debut at Cannes with The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a film for which he won the Best Actor award. He returns with a western adapted from a novel by Glendon Swarthout.

      Official Synopsis:
      Mary Bee Cuddy, 31, lives a solitary existence in a God-fearing mid-western town. She is designated by members of her church to take back East three women who have lost their minds. On the way from Nebraska to Iowa, where those women will at last find refuge, Mary Bee saves the life of Briggs, a claim-jumper and outlaw. He agrees to help in her mission through snowstorms and perilous encounters with settlers, Indians and the harshness of the Frontier territory.
    • The Wonders (Le Meraviglie) by Alice Rohrwacher (Italy, Switzerland, Germany).

      The Italian director's second feature film and her first competition nod. Her first film, Corpo Celeste, appeared in the 2011 Director's Fortnight.

      Official Synopsis:
      Nothing will be the same at the end of this summer for Gelsomina and her three younger sisters. She is the designated heir of the strange, secluded kingdom that her father constructed around them to protect his family from “the end of the world”. An extraordinary summer, when the strict rules that hold the family together, are beginning to break: in part due to the arrival of Martin, a German boy on a youth rehabilitation program, and in part the local community’s participation in a TV competition for big prizes “Village Wonders”, presented by the mysterious Milly Catena.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Run by Philippe Lacôte (Côte d'Ivoire, France).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first film.

      Official Synopsis:
      RUN is running away… He has just killed his country’s Prime Minister. Therefore he had to take the face and clothes of a madman wandering throughout the town for months. His life returns to him in flashes: his childhood with master Tourou, when he dreamt of becoming a rainmaker, his incredible adventures with Greedy Gladys and his militia past as a Young Patriot in Ivory Coast's political and military conflict. RUN has not chosen all of these lives. He stumbled into them, escaping from one life to another. This is why he is called RUN.
    • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby by Ned Benson (USA).

      Competing for the Camera d'Or with his first film. A new concise edit of the two-parter that premiered last year at TIFF. It stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy.

      Official Synopsis:
      An enviable couple are seemingly so in love until their marriage is shaken to the core when life throws them a devastating curve. Now this New York couple must try to understand each other as they cope with loss and attempt to reclaim the life and love they once had.
    • White God (Fehér Isten) by Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary, Germany, Sweden).

      The sixth feature film from the Hungarian actor-director. He has been twice previously selected for the main competition, winning the FIPRESCI Prize in 2008 for Delta.

      Official Synopsis:
      A cautionary tale between a superior species and its disgraced inferior...
    • Force Majeure (Turist) by Ruben Östlund (Sweden).

      The fourth feature from the Swedish director, winner of the Short Film Golden Bear at Berlin (2010: Incident by a Bank).

      Official Synopsis:
      A Swedish family travels to the French Alps to enjoy a few days of skiing. The sun is shining and the slopes are spectacular but, during a lunch at a mountainside restaurant, an avalanche turns everything upside down.
    • Beautiful Youth (Hermosa Juventud) by Jaime Rosales (Spain, France).

      The fifth feature film from the Spanish director, and his third to appear in the Un Certain Regard section. He previously won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Directors' Fortnight section (2003: The Hours of the Day)

      Official Synopsis:
      Natalia and Carlos, both aged 20, are in love and struggling to survive in today’s Spain. Their limited resources prevent them from getting ahead as they’d like to. They have no great ambitions because they have no great hopes. To earn some money, they decide to shoot an amateur porno film. The birth of their daughter Julia is the main catalyst for the changes they make.
    • Jauja by Lisandro Alonso (Argentina, USA, Netherlands, France, Mexico).

      The fifth feature film from the Argentinian director.

      Official Synopsis:
      The Ancient Ones said that Jauja was a mythological land of abundance and happiness. Many expeditions tried to find the place to verify this. With time, the legend grew disproportionately. People were undoubtedly exaggerating, as they usually do. The only thing that is known for certain is that all who tried to find this earthly paradise got lost on the way.

Friday, May 16, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 3

Cannes © FDC
  • Day 3 - Friday, May 16

  • Recap of the third day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • From Canada, The Captive (Captives) by Atom Egoyan.

      A multiple award winner: Jury Grand Prix, FIPRESCI Prize, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury (1997: The Sweet Hereafter); FIPRESCI Prize (1994: Exotica), returns to the main competition for the sixth time in his career.

      Official Synopsis:
      8 years after the disappearance of Cassandra, some disturbing indications seem to indicate that she's still alive. Police, parents and Cassandra herself, will try to unravel the mystery of her disappearance.
    • From Turkey, co-produced with France and Germany, Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

      Another frequent Cannes favorite, twice winner of the Jury Grand Prix (2002: Distant, 2011: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), and Best Director (2008: Three Monkeys). This is his fifth time in the main competition.

      Official Synopsis:
      Aydin, a former actor, runs a small hotel in central Anatolia with his young wife Nihal with whom he has a stormy relationship and his sister Necla who is suffering from her recent divorce. In winter as the snow begins to fall, the hotel turns into a shelter but also an inescapable place that fuels their animosities..

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • From France, The Blue Room (La Chambre Blue) by Mathieu Amalric.

      The famous French actor-director makes an appearance in the UCR section after winning for Best Director in the Main Competition a few years back (2010: On Tour).

      Official Synopsis:
      A man and a woman, secretly in love, alone in a room. They desire each other, want each other, even bite each other. In the afterglow, they share a few sweet nothings. The man at least seems to believe they were nothing. Now under investigation by the police and the courts, Julien fails to find the words.
    • And from Austria, Amour Fou by Jessica Hausner.

      Best known for her previous film (2009: Lourdes), an official selection at Venice. She has previously been to Cannes twice but so far never in the main selection.

      Official Synopsis:
      A "romantic comedy" based loosely on the suicide of the poet Henrich von Kleist in 1811.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 2

Cinema of the Beach © FDC
  • Day 2 - Thursday, May 15

  • Recap of the second day of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes), which runs until May 25, 2014.

    Two Compétition films were screened today:
    • From the UK, co-produced with France and Germany, Mr. Turner by Mike Leigh.

      The former Palme d'Or (1996: Secrets & Lies) and Best Director (1993: Naked) winner competes at Cannes for the fifth time, with this, his thirteenth feature film.

      Official Synopsis:
      Explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851).
    • From Mauritania, co-produced with France, Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako.

      A previous winner of the FIPRESCI Prize (2002: Heremakono) in the Un Certain Regard section. This is his first film in the Official Competition.

      Official Synopsis:
      Not far from Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his family. Until a fateful accident forces Kidane to face the new laws of the foreign occupants.

    In the Un Certain Regard section:
    • Opening the section from France, Party Girl by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, and Samuel Theis.

      Co directed by three longtime friends and graduates from La Fémis, this is their first trip to Cannes.

      Official Synopsis:
      Angelique is a 60-year-old bar hostess. She still likes to party, she still likes men. At night she makes them drink, in a cabaret by the French-German border.
    • And from Israel, That Lovely Girl (Loin de mon père) by Keren Yedaya.

      Previous winner of the Camera d'Or (2004: Or), which screened in the Critics Week sidebar. This is her second feature film, and first to appear in the competition at Cannes.

      Official Synopsis:
      Moshe and Tami are a couple, Moshe is in his fifties and Tami is in her early twenties. They live together in a cruel and violent relationship, from which Tami seems unable to set herself free. Tami and Moshe are father and daughter.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 Cannes Film Festival: Day 1

The cinematic world has converged in the South of France for the 67th Festival de Cannes.

This year's festival opened with the Out of Competition premiere of Grace of Monaco (Grace de Monaco), the much discussed biopic from French director Olivier Dahan, starring Nicole Kidman as Princess Grace Kelly.

The day's lone screening was preceded by the Opening Ceremony, wonderfully hosted by veteran French actor,  Lambert Wilson

Wilson introduced the competition jury: presided this year by New Zealand director Jane Campion, who is joined by French actress Carole Bouquet, American director Sofia Coppola, Iranian actress Leila Hatami, South Korean actress Do-Yeon Jeon, American actor Willem Dafoe, Mexican actor-director Gael Garcia Bernal, Chinese director Jia Zhangke, and Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn.

2014 Master of Ceremonies: Lambert Wilson

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
Genre: Drama
Director: George Cukor
Starring: John Barrymore, Katharine Hepburn, Billie Burke, David Manners
Language: English
Duration: 70 min.
Rating: 6.0
A man returns home after fifteen years in a mental asylum. However, he finds things are not the way they were when he left.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Award Winners

The closing ceremony of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, was held Saturday evening in the storied Berlinale-Palast at Potsdamer Platz.

The winner of the 2014 Golden Bear for Best Feature Film is Black Coal, Thin Ice from Chinese director Diao Yinan. The film's star Liao Fan, also received the Silver Bear for best actor.

The best director Silver Bear was awarded to American director Richard Linklater for Boyhood.

The best actress award went to Haru Kuroki for her role in the Japanese film The Little House.

Read on for the full list of award winners from the 64th Berlinale:

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 9

Berlinale Palast

Recap of the ninth and final day of competition at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Beauty and the Beast by Christophe Gans (out of competition).

    The latest from French fantasy/genre director Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf), is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, starring Vincent Cassel and Lea Seydoux.

    Official Synopsis:
    1810. After losing his fortune at sea, a ruined merchant is forced to retire to the countryside with his six children. Among them is Belle, his youngest daughter, who is full of joy and grace.
    On an arduous journey, the Merchant discovers the magical realm of the Beast, who sentences him to death for stealing a rose.
    Belle, who blames herself for her family’s terrible misfortune, decides to sacrifice her life in place of her father’s. However,it isn’t death that awaits Belle in the Beast’s castle, but rather a peculiar life of magic, joy and melancholy.
  • The Little House by Yoji Yamada.

    82-year-old Japanese director Yoji Yamada (recipient of the 2010 Berlinale Camera), returns to the competition lineup for the 5th time in his lengthy career, with The Little House. A family drama set before and during WWII, based on the Kyoko Nakajima novel of the same name.

    Official Synopsis:
    A furtive love affair that began under the roof of a little house. After 60 years, a closely guarded secret is finally revealed...
  • Macondo by Sudabeh Mortezai.

    German-Iranian documentarian Sudabeh Mortezai presents her feature-length fiction debut in competition at the Berlinale. A drama named after the tough ethnic neighbourhood in the suburbs of Vienna where the film takes place. The story follows an 11-year-old Chechen refugee living with his mother and two younger sisters detailing their lives as foreigners in a new society.

    Official Synopsis:
    Ramasan has a lot of responsibility for an 11-year-old. In traditional Chechen society, he is now considered the man of the house in charge of his mother and two younger sisters. His world is now centered in Macondo, a tough ethnic neighborhood in the industrial suburbs of Vienna.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 8

Recap of the eighth day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Boyhood by Richard Linklater.

    American director Richard Linklater (winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director in 1995 for Before Sunrise, and last year's recipient of the Berlinale Camera Award), returns to the competition with Boyhood (his 17th feature), an epic undertaking that took 12 years to complete. The ambitious project starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Ellar Coltrane, follows a young boy as he grows up between the ages of 6-18.

  • No Man's Land by Hao Ning.

    Another newcomer to the Berlinale competition, Chinese director Hao Ning enters with his sixth feature film. Filmed in 2009 and delayed by censors until now, No Man's Land is a violent and visually compelling self styled homage to the westerns of Sergio Leone, set in the Gobi desert.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 7

Berlin Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Recap of the seventh day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Aloft by Claudia Llosa.

    Peruvian director Claudia Llosa, 2009 Golden Bear winner, (The Milk of Sorrow), returns to the competition for the second time with a drama about a struggling mother and the son she abandoned 20 years ago. It stars Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, and Mélanie Laurent.

    Official Synopsis:
    The story of a struggling mother, and her evolution into a renowned artist and healer. When a young journalist tracks down her son 20 years after she abandoned him, she sets in motion an encounter between the two at the very edge of the earth that will bring the very meaning of their lives into question, and force them to contemplate living life to its fullest, despite the distance between them and the uncertainties littering their paths.
  • Black Coal, Thin Ice by Diao Yinan.

    Yinan Diao, a leading figure in China's avant-garde theatre scene, and winner of the 2003 VIFF Dragons and Tigers Award (Uniform), makes his Berlinale debut this year with his third feature film, a noirish thriller set in a remote village in Northern China.

    Official Synopsis:
    North China: Investigating a murder, Zhang, a detective is badly wounded and forced to retire. 5 years pass. More murders occur. Zhang, determined to solve the case, falls in love with a mysterious woman, Wu Zhizhen, who seems to be connected to the victims.
  • The Third Side of the River (La tercera orilla) by Celina Murga.

    Argentinian director Celina Murga's third fiction feature and her first to screen in competition at the Berlinale is a drama (notably executive produced by Martin Scorsese) about a teenage boy torn between the mother who raised him, and the estranged father who wants the boy to follow in his footsteps.

    Official Synopsis:
    Seventeen-year-old Nicolas lives with his mother and younger siblings in a small provincial city. His estranged father, Jorge, a respected doctor, has decided that Nicolas will be his successor in both his medical practice and agricultural business. Nicolas is pressured by his father’s steps to prepare him for this responsibility, leaving no room for the teenager’s feelings. Nicolas obeys his father, but he hates him. He has seen his mother suffer because of Jorge’s double life. The first one with his official family, and the other one with Nicolas’ family, not acknowledged publicly. As tensions between father and son rise, Nicolas realizes that he must make a choice and take action toward his own future

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 6

Recap of the sixth day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Praia do Futuro by Karim Aïnouz.

    Titled after a beach located in the director's hometown of Fortaleza in Northeastern Brazil. Karim Aïnouz makes his first trip to Berlin with a story about a relationship between a local lifeguard and a German tourist.

    Official Synopsis:
    Donato works as a life guard patrolling the spectacular but treacherous Praia do Futuro beach. When he dives into the sea after two men caught in the undercurrent, he saves Konrad, a German vacationing in Brazil, but Konrad’s friend is lost to the sea.
  • Stratos (To Mikro Psari) by Yannis Economides.

    Also making his Berlinale debut is Cypriot director Yannis Economides. Stratos is the story of a baker/hitman who tries to raise funds in order to help his friend break out of prison.

    Official Synopsis:
    At age 19, Stratos committed a crime of passion. He spent half his life in prison, where underground boss Leonidas took him under his wing. One day during a rival gang attack, Leonidas saved his life. Stratos never forgot this.
    A free man now, Stratos works the night shift at a bakery workshop, a far cry from the killing contracts he executes by day. He gives away all his money to spring Leonidas out of prison, funding an escape plan managed by Leo’s brother, Yorgos.
    The fulfillment of his debt is the only thing that matters to Stratos, everything else is indifferent and he lives detached, surrounded by ghosts and fallacies. The day of the escape, the most important day of his life, is near...
  • Inbetween Worlds (Zwischen Welten) by Feo Aladag.

    Austrian actress turned director Feo Aladag (When We Leave), steps up from the Panorama to the Main Competition with her second feature film. Inbetween Worlds is the story of a German soldier stationed in a remote village in Afghanistan, starring Ronald Zehrfeld.

    Official Synopsis:
    German soldier Jesper signs up for a mission in Afghanistan, despite having lost his brother during an operation in the war-torn country. Jesper and his squad are assigned to protect a village outpost from increasing Taliban influence. With the help of young and inexperienced interpreter Tarik, Jesper seeks the trust of the local community and the allied Afghani militia. More than ever, he discovers the immense differences between the two worlds. When the lives of Tarik and his sister Nala are threatened by the Taliban, conflicted Jesper is torn between his military obligations and his conscience.

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 5

Recap of the fifth day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) by Alain Resnais.

    91-year-old French filmmaker Alain Resnais (twice awarded the Silver Bear), marks his third trip to the Berlinale competition programme with an adaptation of British playwright Alan Ayckbourn's Life of Riley, starring Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier, Michel Vuillermoz, Hippolyte Girardot and Sandrine Kiberlain.

    Official Synopsis:
    In the Yorkshire countryside, the life of three couples is upset for a few months, from Spring to Fall, by the enigmatic behavior of their friend George Riley.
  • In Order of Appearance (Kraftidioten) by Hans Petter Moland.

    Also making his third trip to the Berlinale competition is Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter Moland; with In Order of Disappearance, billed as an action comedy starring Stellan Skarsgard and Bruno Ganz.

    Official Synopsis:
    Nils snow ploughs the wild winter mountains of Norway, and is recently awarded Citizen of the Year. When his son is murdered for something he did not do, Nils wants revenge. And justice. His actions ignites a war between the vegan gangster “The Count“ and the Serbian mafia boss “Papa“. Winning a blood feud isn't easy. Especially not in a welfare state. But Nils has something going for him. Heavy machinery and beginner's luck.
  • Blind Massage (Tui Na) by Lou Ye.

    Chinese director Lou Ye makes his Berlinale debut with Blind Massage. A story based on a novel by Bi Feiyu that revolves around a blind massage therapist in Nanjing.

    Official Synopsis:
    Nanjing. At a massage centre run by the blind, damaged bodies find relief beneath sensitive fingers. A new couple comes to work at the centre. The others are drawn to them. Within this community, we witness seduction, suffering and - above all - the search for love.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Days 3-4

Recap of days 3 and 4 of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Five films from the Competition programme were screened over the weekend (3 competing and 2 out of competition):

  • Beloved Sisters (Die geliebten Schwestern) by Dominik Graf.

    German writer director Dominik Graf enters the Berlinale competition for the second time with a historical period piece set in 1788 about two sisters (Charlotte and Caroline Lengefeld) who fall in love with the same man, writer and philosopher Friedrich Schiller.

    Official Synopsis:
    The aristocratic sisters Charlotte and Caroline both fall in love with the controversial young writer and hothead Friedrich Schiller. Defying the conventions of their time, the sisters decide to share their love with Schiller. What begins playfully, almost as a game among the three of them, soon turns serious as it leads to the end of a pact...
  • The Monuments Men by George Clooney (Out of Competition).

    Star actor director George Clooney's latest. The story of an Allied platoon tasked with preventing precious works of art from being destroyed by the Nazis.

    Official Synopsis:
    an action drama focusing on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. With the art hidden behind enemy lines, how could these guys hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.
  • History of Fear (Historia del miedo) by Benjamin Naishtat.

    A rare first feature in the main competition. From promising Argentinian director Benjamín Naishtat, whose shorts have previously been presented at Cannes and Rotterdam.

    Official Synopsis:
    When a heat wave grips the suburbs, black-outs and waves of pollution push the social order to the brink of collapse, forcing each inhabitant to confront his own motives, instincts and fears
  • Stations of the Cross (Kreuzweg) by Dietrich Brüggemann.

    The third feature from German brother and sister directing writing duo Dietrich and Anna Brüggemann.

    Official Synopsis:
    Maria is 14 years old. Her family is part of a fundamentalist Catholic community. Maria lives her everyday life in the modern world, yet her heart belongs to Jesus. She wants to follow him, to become a saint and go to heaven–just like all those holy children she’s always been told about. So Maria goes through 14 stations, just like Jesus did on his path to Golgatha, and reaches her goal in the end. Not even Christian, a boy she meets at school, can stop her, even if in another world, they might have become friends, or even lovers. Left behind is a broken family that finds comfort in faith, and the question if all these events were really so inevitable
  • Nymphomaniac Volume I (long version) by Lars von Trier. (Out of competition)

    The world premiere of the 145-minute-long director's cut of the first half of Nymphomaniac.

    Official Synopsis:
    In the alley in front of his tenement building, aging bachelor Seligman finds a young woman covered in blood. He takes her to his apartment where Joe tells him about her life, her experiences with men and her insatiable appetite for sex.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 2

Friedrichstadt-Palast © Berlinale

Recap of the second day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), which runs until February 16.

Screening In Competition today:

  • Jack by Edward Berger.

    Berlin based director Edward Berger, known mainly for television and commercial work, makes his Berlinale competition debut with a film about a 10-year-old boy with a neglectful and irresponsible single mother.

    Official Synopsis:
    Although he is only ten years old, Jack is responsible for himself and his little brother Manuel and this fills him with pride. Their single mother works during the day and often goes out at night. There’s no father in sight. One day, Manuel burns himself with boiling hot water while bathing and Jack is blamed for the incident. It's reason enough for social services to put him in a home where he is dreadfully homesick. He soon gets into trouble and bolts, heading for home. He arrives back, only to find his mother is once again absent. Jack and Manuel roam the city in search of her. They sleep in parks and in an underground car park, run away from the police and encounter adults, some of whom help and others who are indifferent.
  • Two Men In Town by Rachid Bouchareb.

    French-Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb, returns to the Berlinale competition for the fourth time. It's the second part in a trilogy of English language films that explore the relationship between America and the Arab world, and is loosely based on the 1973 French film Two Men In Town starring Alain Delon and directed by Jose Giovanni. It tells the story of a born-again Muslim ex-con played by Forest Whitaker who is hounded by a vengeful cop played by Harvey Keitel.

    Official Synopsis:
    A small town in New Mexico surrounded by desert which, time and again as the day breaks, disgorges an increasing number of Mexicans who have either been murdered or have died of thirst. A convict is released from prison. Thanks to his new-found Muslim faith, William Garnett’s behaviour has been exemplary and, with the aid of a sympathetic parole officer, he begins a new life in the town. But his past is well-known and before long, a sheriff bent on revenge and an ex-crony from the underworld are both breathing down his neck.
  • '71 by Yann Demange.

    Acclaimed Paris born, London based, television director Yann Demange (Dead Set) makes his feature film debut with '71. A thriller set in 1971 Belfast starring Jack O'Connell, as a young British soldier accidentally abandoned by his unit during a deadly riot.

    Official Synopsis:
    A young British soldier is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Berlin International Film Festival: Day 1

Today was the opening day of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin), one of the most prestigious and well attended film festivals in the world.

Separate press conferences were held to introduce the official competition jury as well as the opening film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson.

Presiding over this year's International Jury is American producer James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain). Schamus is joined by American producer Barbara Broccoli (Skyfall); Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (In a Better World); Iranian filmmaker and painter Mitra Farahani (Just a Woman); American actress Greta Gerwig (Greenberg); French filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); Hong Kong actor Tony Leung (The Grandmaster); and Austrian Actor Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds).

The 64th Berlinale International Jury: Tony Leung, Barbara Broccoli, Trine Dyrholm, Michel Gondry, Mitra Farahani, Christoph Waltz, Greta Gerwig, James Schamus