On the Freedom Not to Take Away Your Freedom: Berlinale Shorts Presents Programme for 2020

Left: How to Disappear von/by Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf. © Total Refusal Middle: Playback. Ensayo de una despedida von/by Agustina Comedi. © Agustina Comedi Right: Filipiñana von/by Rafael Manuel. © Rafael Manuel

The Berlinale was founded 70 years ago as a “Showcase of the Free World”. What does freedom look like today? How do you preserve your freedom to be free? This is one of the reoccurring questions of the Berlinale Shorts competition 2020.

This year, Berlinale Shorts is entering a new chapter. After Maike Mia Höhne headed the section for twelve years, Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck has now taken over the position as curator and section head and presents her first programme.

“The short form enjoys a special freedom, it sets its own rules,” says Henckel-Donnersmarck. “It operates outside the conventional distribution chains and doesn’t need to please the expectations of a market. Its special magic unfolds once established viewing habits are left behind. We are very much looking forward to sharing this magic with the audience.”

The total of 24 films from 18 countries flow through a broad spectrum of topics and aesthetics. They invite to reflect, inspire and discuss:

In 1988, Gabriele Stötzer took the liberty and asked her friends in the East German city of Erfurt to dance in ecstasy at self-chosen locations (Veitstanz/Feixtanz). Some 22 years later, virtual soldiers try to desert within a computer game and thus undermine the social rules of gaming and war (How to Disappear). Both small and large moments of refusal (HaMa’azinFilipiñanaGirl and BodySo We liveInflorescence) are searched for as well as the concrete feeling of freedom that was taken away by a prison sentence (Huntsville Station).

Death and disappearance are also themes that run throughout the programme (Gumnaam DinÀ l’entrée de la nuit). Idiosyncratic mourning rituals provide comfort and create a sense of community (TPlayback. Ensayo de una despedidaÉcume) as well as constitute a form of confrontation with the present (Union CountyAtkūrimas) and past (Cause of Death) of our society.

And then there are all of the cinematic worlds that lift the veil of reality (Genius LociCelle qui porte la pluie) or create their own universes (It Wasn’t the Right Mountain, MohammadStump the GuesserMy Galactic Twin Galaction).

Setting one’s own aesthetic rules opens up cinematic spaces of thought (2008Aletsch NegativeA Demonstration). A form of freedom that can be bliss.

Films of the Berlinale Shorts 2020

2008, Blake Williams, Canada, 12’ (IP)
À l’entrée de la nuit, Anton Bialas, France, 19’ (WP)
Aletsch Negative, Laurence Bonvin, Switzerland, 12’ (IP)
Atkūrimas, Laurynas Bareisa, Lithuania, 13’ (WP)
Cause of Death, Jyoti Mistry, South Africa / Austria, 20’ (WP)
Celle qui porte la pluie, Marianne Métivier, Canada, 17’ (IP)
A Demonstration, Sasha Litvintseva, Beny Wagner, Germany / Netherlands / United Kingdom, 25’ (WP)
Écume, Omar Elhamy, Canada, 28’ (WP)
Filipiñana, Rafael Manuel, Philippines / United Kingdom, 24’ (WP)
Genius Loci, Adrien Mérigeau, France, 16’ (IP)
Girl and Body, Charlotte Mars, Australia, 19’ (IP)
Gumnaam Din, Ekta Mittal, India, 29’ (IP)
HaMa’azin, Omer Sterenberg, Israel, 11’ (IP)
How to Disappear, Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf, Austria, 21’ (WP)
Huntsville Station, Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone, USA, 14’ (WP)
Inflorescence, Nicolaas Schmidt, Germany, 8’ (WP)
It Wasn’t the Right Mountain, Mohammad, Mili Pecherer, France, 29’ (WP)
My Galactic Twin Galaction, Sasha Svirsky, Russian Federation, 7’ (WP)
Playback. Ensayo de una despedida, Agustina Comedi, Argentina, 14’ (IP)
So We Live, Rand Abou Fakher, Belgium, 16’ (WP)
Stump the Guesser, Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, Canada, 19’ (WP)
T, Keisha Rae Witherspoon, USA, 14’ (IP)
Union County, Adam Meeks, USA, 14’ (WP)
Veitstanz/Feixtanz, Gabriele Stötzer, GDR, 25’, 1988 (out of competition)

This year, Berlinale Shorts will be playing not only at CinemaxX and Colosseum, but also at Cubix and Zoo Palast. At Zoo Palast, the screenings will be enriched with more extensive Q&As, inviting the audience to participate – following the slogan “shorts take their time”.

Special screenings for the press and accredited professionals will take place on February 22 and 23, 2020 at Cubix.


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