The Berlinale Film Festival has come and gone, briefly lighting up the dreary winter like a meteor streaking into the Russian atmosphere. I had been looking forward to it for sometime and was still surprised by how good it was. There were simply dozens and dozens of really interesting films from all over the world to see, great Q+As with the directors and screenings in beautiful theaters across the city. I am a bit sad that it’s all over and still have the Berlinale jingle (played before every film and looped over speakers during the red carpet arrivals) burned into my brain.
Here are a couple highlights with pictures from the post-screening discussions:
Naked Opera, Austria
I wanted to be sure to attend the premiere of this documentary in part because my friend Mieke made the beautiful titles and some special effects for it. It’s a very unusual, funny documentary about a gay man in Luxembourg who has a terminal disease and travels around Europe to see different productions of Don Giovanni, staying in five star hotels and dating call boys along the way. Mieke told me that later in the festival, the director Angela Christlieb won a prize for the film.
No Man’s Land, Portugal
This was the most difficult film I saw but maybe the best- a very minimal documentary in which a man is interviewed about his former career as a military commando in Angola before the Carnation Revolution and his subsequent work as a mercenary in El Salvador and Spain. Unfortunately, many people walked out during the film and missed the ending, which completely changes one’s perception of the whole story. A friend moderated the Q&A, during which in an awkward moment he made the hilarious comment, “Bigamy. It happens!”
I had seen Véréna Paravel’s film about the Iron Triangle at Exit Art in NYC last winter with an audience of about 30 people. I talked to her for a while after the screening and she told me about the new film she was working on, a documentary about fishermen in New Bedford. Never would I have guessed that I would see this film at the Berlinale’s only screening of it with an audience of hundreds. It’s an awesome movie that was fantastic to see in such an immense theater.