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