MEDIAMANIA Berlinale Shorts 2015

Radio Show Radio1 „Die Kurze Form des Films“

Architektura

Ulu Braun on Architektura

Bad at Dancing

Joanna Arnow on Bad at Dancing

Blood Below the Skin

Jennifer Reeder on Blood Below the Skin

Short talk with Jennifer Reeder

Däwit

David Jansen and Fabian Driehorst on Däwit

El Juego del Escondite

Short talk with David Munoz

Lama?

Nadav Lapid on Lama?

Lembusura

The Mad Half Hour

MAR DE FOGO

Joel Pizzini on MAR DE FOGO (in Portuguese)

PLANET Ʃ

PLANET Ʃ – Making-of

Momoko Seto on PLANET Ʃ 

San Cristóbal

Superior

Erin Vassilopoulos on Superior

Symbolic Threats

Radio show Deutschlandradio Symbolic Threats

Take What You Can Carry

Matt Porterfield on Take What You Can Carry

YúYú

Short talk with Marc Johnson and Anne-Marie Melster

Shorts 2015 Awards

Golden Bear: HOSANNA by Na Young-kil

Berlinale Shorts Kurzfilmwettbewerb 2015

 

Silver Bear: Bad at Dancing by Joanna Arnow

Berlinale Shorts Kurzfilmwettbewerb 2015

Audi Short Film Award: PLANET Ʃ by Momoko Seto

Berlinale Shorts Kurzfilmwettbewerb 2015

EFA Nomination: Dissonance by Till Nowak

Till Nowak ('Dissonance') receiving the EFA nomination.
Till Nowak (‚Dissonance‘) receiving the EFA nomination.

 

TEDDY Award for best shortfilm: San Cristóbal by Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo

Receiving the TEDDY AWARD: Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo (San Cristóbal)
Receiving the TEDDY AWARD: Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo (San Cristóbal)

Egbert Hörmann on „Superior“ (Shorts V)

Egbert Hörmann (member of our Berlinale Shorts selection committee) on “Superior” by Erin Vassilopoulos

BLOG.EGBERT

Nein, „im Schatten junger Mädchenblüte“ ist das gewiss nicht, was Ms. Erin Vassilolopoulos uns in SUPERIOR da vorführt, es ist eher eine geöffnete Büchse Würmer. Es ist auch nicht so spießig-verlogen wie SEX AND THE CITY, sondern eher: LENA DUNHAM TRIFFT DAVID LYNCH. Zwei weibliche Teenager (identische Zwillinge), die irgendwie gewissen Bildern von Balthus entsprungen sind, leben im scheinbar trauten, ziemlich klaustrophobischen, von unwissender Erotik ziemlich aufgeheizten, ziemlich surrealen Suburbia-Heim (Interieurs wie von Diane Arbus fotografiert) allein mit ihrem Vater, der über das weibliche Prinzip längst die Kontrolle verloren hat. Die Mutter ist niergendwo. Dann der Klassiker: Ein schöner Fremder auf der Durchreise kommt für eine Nacht ins Haus. Seine laszive Passivität ist erregend, und die weiblichen Hormone und Fantasiebilder drehen durch. Psycho-Horror-Terror. Ein Macht- und Identifikations- und Identitätskampf entbrennt. Anziehung und Abstoßung zwischen den beiden Girls wechseln sich ab. Blut muss fließen. Das Barbie-Universum wird kräftig ironisiert, ad absurdum geführt und demontiert.

(Egbert Hörmann)

***

Thank you, dear Egbert, for this review!

Reviews by critic Raphael Chipperfield

Critic Raphael Chipperfield on ‚Lama?‘, ‚HOSANNA‘, ‚El Juego del Escondite‘, ‚Pebbles at Your Door‘, ‚Symbolic Threats‘, ‚SHADOWLAND‘ and ‚Take What You Can Carry‘.

Lama? (Why?)

Israel; someone gets a call, Cahiers du Cinema is going digital: ’so this is the end?‘ Or maybe it’s a beginning?‘

We watch as the protagonist flashes back to his time in the military, Pasolini’s ‚Teorema‘ is showing. The crowd of Israeli youths start to play music on a juke box, it provides a new soundtrack to the strange dessert scenes. The young protagonist goes up to the screen and starts to touch the projected image of a man.

Now back in the present day, with the ease of access to films, the man, now in his 40s, brings up the image on his TV screen, then photographs it on his smart phone.

We are left with the same question; is this an end? Or is it a beginning? What is film going to look like? Placed in an Israeli context, where the incursions into Gaza and engagements with Hamas have been, is essentially a battle of information, a battle that is being fought through the dissemination of images, this little vignette about a Pasolini image passing through digital iterations; what is meaningful here? How are we to pick our way through these images…etc… becomes increasingly meaningful.

Has something been lost with the proliferation of digital image making, or was it something that was never there? What is going to happen to film, what is going to happen to the people who make film? This man’s melancholy introspection gives us no answers, seeming to end more with a question than anything else. And it’s a question that all the films in this programme respond to in different ways.

HOSANNA & El Juego del Escondite (Hide & Seek)

‘HOSANNA’ starts with a comparable image. A frog fills the screen, blinking, it’s throat bulging. Suddenly it is split apart by a tyre. Its skeleton instantly buckles out of it’s skin. In a fraction of a second it has become almost un-recognisable. A young boy picks it up, and when he opens his hands again the frog is alive. The story is about this Messianic child; the inversion however is that his gift only brings more suffering.

The film forgoes any special effects and all the tricks of resurrection, healing wounds, stopping blood are achieved through basic cinematic tools. A quick cut allows the director to replace the dead frog with an alive one, and because of this the life giving possibilities of the boy are imbricated and linked to filmic mechanisms; essentially it is film that is able to artificially preserve life. The image of the frog is so strong because it is gently bought back to life through film but it is also so viscerally destroyed by film. The camera watches the animal, it’s perfectly focused, the image is framed. The  trained focus, the clear framing, the perfect positioning in the line of the tyre’s trajectory; there is no doubt that the camera itself hasn’t been the instigator of this death, but it does it only in order to be able to resurrect it.

Like Dennis Hopper’s un-finished psychedelic homage to cinema ‘The last movie’, ‘HOSANNA’ charts a society with a perverted understanding of death, and we are made to feel that this understanding has something to do with cinema. In Hopper’s film the society is an indigenous Peruvian one. When Sam Fuller’s film crew wrap up their latest Western and leave the area, the Peruvians have by this time seen so many people shot but bought back to life by the god like apparatus of the camera, that they construct their own…but are shocked to find that it doesn’t have the same healing effects.

The idea of preserving life beyond its natural span is used in ‘HOSANNA’. However, unlike the rejoicing that comes with Lazarus’s resurrection this rural Korean society is split apart. The problem isn’t simply that people are living and not dying, but also that people are living in a state where they still crave death but pursue it with abandon because they know it’s not lasting. Death becomes normalised, just another thing in a daily routine… And like all the films in the programme ‘HOSANNA’ shows that filmmaking doesn’t simply record and relay events, but structures the way that those events are formulated. The community in ‘HOSANNA’ is torn apart because the gift of being able to come back to life actually permeates and structures the way they live; they pursue death, they abandon themselves to excess. The ability to be resurrected destroys their lives, and there is parallel here to film-making.

‘Hide & Seek’ is split into two parts; one in which the film crew orchestrates, records, and intervenes on a childish game of hide and seek, and the second in which with much more solemnity we watch as a mother leaves the confines of the camp to search for her daughter.

Many fiction films and documentaries are challenging the way we understand filmmaking. A particularly concise example of this is ‚The Act of Killing‘, in which rather than trying to cleanly access the memories of the perpetrators of mass genocide in Indonesia, the director, Joshua Oppenheimer, gives over the responsibility for representing the killings through film to the perpetrators themselves. It is a groundbreaking work of cinema because of its total acceptance of how filmmaking now works; the creation, dissemination and consumption of images has been inseparably imbricated into the reality of our lives. The proliferation of image capturing devices, the competence of all parts of society at constructing and disseminating their own image, means that filmmakers can no longer assume the position of witness. The camera doesn’t simply capture an event, nor does the camera surreptitiously steal or dispossess people of their image in the way that Frantz Fanon suggested; the camera, the image of the camera, is there in the actions themselves. Actions encompass and metabolise their own representation and dissemination. ‚Hide & Seek‘, whose title not only refers to the game that the children are playing but also to the game that the filmmakers and their subjects are engaged in, is very intelligent about this. A film that bears it’s own devices, that acknowledges it’s own imprint on it’s subjects, is now much more ‚real‘ than the film that purports to innocently and honestly document it’s subjects.

We return to ‘HOSANNA’’s first image of the frog; cinema challenges the sacredness of death. Cinema always runs this risk, especially now with the dissemination of brutal imagery that can be, as Susan Sontag says ‚consumed with our morning coffee‘, of not allowing us time to appreciate the radical completeness of death… Many of the films that will be shown in this programme show how image making challenges, or alienates us in some way from more original experience. In ‚HOSANNA‘, an unhealthy fetishistic artificial preservation of life leads to the disintegration of society, the very consistency of everyday life is destroyed. ‘Hide & Seek’ is perhaps more optimistic. The game within the camp, between viewer and viewed, filmer and filmed, subject and object comes to an abrupt end when we see the much more sinister attempt of a mother to find her lost daughter.

Both these films show that cinema changes and distorts the reality of everyday life, but they are also respectful of the line at which cinematic games end, and suffering and death begin. Yes we can talk about the role of cinema, the nature of image making, but as the image of the dead frog fills the screen we are also reminded that these games of signification always come with a risk, and at a cost.

Pebbles at Your Door & Symbolic Threats

The film starts with this apt poem; in paradise we would never love or despair…but despair is dear to us. The film recounts the life of a woman who escaped North Korea once she found out that poverty was so rife outside of Pyongyang and that she was living a privileged life with her husband and children. She leaves to Seoul where she ends up living. Unlike Pyongyang, everything is tolerated in the South. Nobody takes an interest in her affairs, even North Korean spies are allowed to move around freely; the south even tolerates it’s enemies.

‘Symbolic Threats’ pieces together in a scrapbook like way the huge media reaction to an artistic intervention in New York; the flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge are replaced by all white replicas. The film charts the panoply of different interpretations, reactions and responses to this seemingly innocuous event. The most important moment in the film comes when Bill de Blasio’s voice plays over a black screen: A free society must tolerate art, and not decide what is legitimately part of culture. Both films stage this same dilemma in different ways and through different contexts. It is obviously true from both films that what makes these societies similar in a way is their tolerance of opposition, and even their ability to metabolise their opposition into their own system. For example; like a skilled martial artist who is able to use their opponents momentum and body weight against them, South Korea permits North Korean spies to move around freely but rather than being a capitulation to North Korean intelligence gathering it is an ideological side-step; by not providing the expected resistance to espionage the South Korean government simply allows the North an opportunity to demonstrate their aggression. This kind of tolerance, which allows antagonistic forces to interplay, is paralleled in the opening poem; in paradise we would lose hope and despair…and despair is dear to us. So, actually paradise is never going to be paradise. Homogenised paradise, in which suffering is not possible will also never allow for joy. Freedom therefore must include the freedom and even necessity for suffering and challenges.

Clearly this concept of society comes with it’s own dangers; in ‚Pebbles at Your Door‘ there is the very real threat that spies will reveal the protagonists defection and execute her family; this is why her story has to be told through a retreat into the flat images of this film. In ‚Symbolic Threats‘ there is the implication that the breach of security that the filmmakers exploited could just as easily have been exploited for destructive purposes rather than artistic ones. So both these films have kind of oscillating movements within them; free cultures need to be able to accept robust criticism, ideological encroachment, and they even have to apply their standards of free movement and free expression to individuals and groups who perhaps don’t personally ascribe to those values. This does leave them open to destructive potentials.

‚Symbolic Threats‘ shows how the U.S.’s ideological strength is also it’s ideological weakness, but also how this weakness is in turn a type of strength; within the film’s slightly cynical appraisal of the events there is a strangely touching image; four police officers who are sent to collect the surrogate flag, not quite knowing what to do with it, meticulously fold the white piece of canvas.  ‘Pebbles at Your Door’ does the same at an ideological level, but it also develops this at a very human level; the price of happiness is suffering; just like the price of a true true freedom in western liberal democracies might be the freedom that they grant being exercised against the societies that grant it.

SHADOWLAND & Take What You Can Carry

‚Take What You Can Carry‘ is a film about the dissonance between the protagonists self image and the image she feels other people have constructed for her; again this discord, this antagonism between image and reality, between expectation and it’s disappointment, is leveraged for moments of wrenching sadness. Berlin is used beautifully as a kind of liminal world, a transitory place, people stopping off, waiting, leaving… Even the first scene, a late night early morning bicycle through the streets, dirty sky, silent, no traffic, clutching a Club Mate (the Berlin party goers drink of choice) doesn’t have the kind of joyous abandon that one would hope for, and probably not what the protagonist hoped for either.

She arrives at her lover’s house. He is coded as ‚freedom‘. French/ North African, he pensively thumbs the strings of a guitar, his apartment is a beautiful collection of objects, he pads around in a pair of board shorts. Here is the Berlin that the protagonist expected to find; artistic, liberal, eclectic, unkempt. She starts to pack a bag, obviously she doesn’t live here, she comes and goes as she likes. Her lover looks up from his guitar and says ‚I wish you wouldn’t just do as you like. I wish you would live with me.‘ Suddenly her image of herself, her expectations of Berlin and of freedom, stutter. Freedom gives way to proprietorship, possibilities are narrowed down to a choice, responsibility looms, decisions will have to be made. She reads a letter from her mother, there are religious inflections to it; what world is this girl leaving?

The next scene is a mesmerising long take. A dance rehearsal studio, each character steps forward and introduces a theme; ‚I’ve slept with someone because they’re famous‘, ‚I don’t understand the war in the Iraq’…the person then goes on to represent this confession through dance, others who feel the same way can decide whether or not to join in. It becomes a beautiful reflection on how people represent themselves, fluctuating between moments of emotional honesty and moments of awkward anxiety about how your movements will be perceived. The dancing seems to balance always between interior and exterior, between projection and reception…there is a moment of joyous, collective liberation as the majority of the group join a kind of frantic can-can to finally express their ignorance and indifference to political developments in the middle east. The girl’s turn comes; ‚I’ve never seen a dead body‘, she is left to dance alone. Perhaps her desires to ‚live‘, to ‚experience‘, leaving her family, are fuelled by a feeling of captivity, a feeling that real life experiences have been denied to her, and her life in Berlin amounts to a desperate attempt to try and fill in those experiences she feels are missing. ‚Life‘ didn’t happen to her, or around her at home, so she’s come here searching for it.

This understanding of the girl is partially confirmed in the final scene. She sits down on the bed in the flat she is sitting for the weekend, she starts to dictate her letter to herself, drawing the viewer in to her interior process of image making. This act of reading her own thoughts to herself signifies this interior/exterior split. She is constantly convincing herself, constantly receptive to exterior representations but constantly trying to metabolise that receptiveness and sensitivity into a type of indifference.

Baudriallard wrote that the U.S.A. pulled out of Vietnam but won the war. His statement was intended to explain how although the U.S. was physically repelled from Vietnam the real battlefield was the ancillary one, a battlefield of images. This notion of colonisation through representations is implicitly the theme of Porterfield’s film, one wonders what the film would be if the girl wasn’t North American, but the theme is more explicitly taken on in ‘SHADOWLAND’.

This second film, a calmly paced, exquisitely composed progression through rural America could be read as a simple homage to film; to films, filmmakers, film history and the American landscape. However, it deals with themes that many of the other films are also approaching; how representation is altering reality, how film-making is impacting the subjects it simply purports to show.

The film appears to be a trip across the United States, a kind of abstract road movie, but it is not a voyage of discovery. The credit sequence which lists the locations and the films which were originally set there, inform us that the filmmaker has visited locations that have stood in for places of otherness; foreign desserts, South East Asian forests, beaches, lakes. At once it has a very personal poignance; this idea that escape is always checked, and like the protagonist of ‚Take What You Can Carry‘ this journey is actually the navigation of images of a journey, projections of escape, rather than the sort of radical freedom that we often hope for. At the same time as telling a very personal tale of frustrated discovery, ‚SHADOWLAND‘ gives this a filmic parallel, shot on film, methodically framed, it ties filmmaking itself into this pattern of regression and of frustrated expectations. There is a beautiful moment in ‚Summer with Monika‘ where the momentum has left the young couple’s heady escape on a stolen boat, they are tired of one another, and what they had thought of as freedom and escape starts to look mundane and contrived. The point at which we realise that the freedom that they had imagined is impossible when Monika turns to the boy and says; let’s go back to Stockholm, I want to go to the cinema. Like ‚SHADOWLAND‘ the frustrated desire for freedom is one that is exacerbated by film, and as with ‘HOSANNA’, film is incriminated in the constant inability to approximate otherness, it’s a membrane between us and the deep, true experiences we crave.

Finally this short film uses this idea of re-processing to leverage a cultural critique. The American protagonist in ‚Take What You Can Carry‘, arrived in Berlin already knowing what she was going to find, and this pre-detrmination, this fixation on images, prevents her from genuinely integrating. Here, exploration of the landscape is also pre-determined, otherness has been conveniently constructed and strangely it bears an American form. Of course one is never going to be able to develop an informed and genuine understanding of another person or even another place when the only lexicon you have for assembling that image is your own past experiences. American culture stitches together a foreign dessert from it’s own forgotten land. Almost like the U.S.A has become so sophisticated at fighting wars on an ideological and representational plane that it doesn’t even need to outsource it’s foreign battlefields, it does everything in-house.

Journeys, discoveries are frustrated by regurgitated film images. Our engagement with humanitarian crises are plagued by anxieties about how they should be represented, even our access to our memories is somehow mediated through assemblages, collages of images. All the films shown deal with this concept in some way, and it is something that is being constantly re-drawn with changing technologies; filmmaking permeates deeper and deeper into society, thought, relations, everything. The programme of short films takes us back to ‚Why?‘; is this an end, or is it a beginning…?

(Raphael Chipperfield)

***

Thank you, Raphael!

David O’Reilly on ‚maku‘ by Yoriko Mizushiri

David O’Reilly (winner of the ‪Berlinale‬ Shorts Golden Bear 2009 for „Please Say Something“) about this year’s short „maku“ by Yoriko Mizushiri

„MAKU is an extraordinary and beautiful film which defies easy description. Yoriko Mizushiri employs her own form of surrealism to describe a world which is both bright and mysterious – both childlike and adult.” (David O’Reilly)

Berlinale Shorts V **Premiere: Wed Feb11 4pm CinemaxX 5**

LaIsla 02

La Isla está Encantada con Ustedes (The Island is Enchanted with You) by Daniel Schmidt / Alexander Carver

USA / Switzerland / Australia 2014, 28 min

In 1511, Indigenous people in Puerto Rico seduced and murdered a representative of colonial power. Some 300 years later, a further chapter of colonial history: in 1803, by order of the Spanish Crown, a doctor named Francisco Javiér de Balmis travelled to Puerto Rico with a number of orphans. They were carriers of the live vaccine with which Balmis executed one of the first mass immunisations against smallpox. Switch to the present day: in 2014, Puerto Rico produced an enormous amount of pharmaceuticals with subsidies from the USA. By interweaving strands of colonial and postcolonial history, the filmmakers of La Isla está Encantada con Ustedes have created a lyrical work that mirrors and expands on dynamics of power and lust. A modern roundelay that restages the past in the present. Led by a gaze of sexual innuendo, this is a comedy in which reality is subordinate to strategies of power – while revealing the closely intertwined nature of health and economics, in the past and present.

***

TMHH Still 03

The Mad Half Hour by Leonardo Brzezicki

Argentina / Denmark 2015, 22 min

Once a day, domestic cats go completely mad. A total burst of energy. That is all over within half an hour. No one knows why. That’s just how it is.
Juan is rather similar. He doesn’t know why, it just seizes him. The loss of commitment. Why should he bother to hit a ball over the net and wait for it to be returned, while making sure it stays within the white line? Does he still love Pedro, no, perhaps yes? Pedro is used to it and takes him by the hand. They venture into the night together and stray, like cats, through the streets of Buenos Aires. Far more than pursuing narrative logic, the film follows human feelings without ever fully relinquishing the threads of the storyline.

***

Kamakshi_Parobai_01

Kamakshi by Satindar Singh Bedi

India 2014, 25 min

Once a day, domestic cats go completely mad. A total burst of energy. That is all over within half an hour. No one knows why. That’s just how it is.
Juan is rather similar. He doesn’t know why, it just seizes him. The loss of commitment. Why should he bother to hit a ball over the net and wait for it to be returned, while making sure it stays within the white line? Does he still love Pedro, no, perhaps yes? Pedro is used to it and takes him by the hand. They venture into the night together and stray, like cats, through the streets of Buenos Aires. Far more than pursuing narrative logic, the film follows human feelings without ever fully relinquishing the threads of the storyline.

***

3

THE by Billy Roisz & Dieter Kovačič

Austria 2015, 13 min

Clouds cross the sky. A dark rumble. A crow caws. A melody. Omens hang in the air, heralding the unexpected. The work of Billy Roisz and Dieter Kovačič explores the structures and mechanisms of the terror evoked in horror film. They experiment with listening and viewing habits, transforming the screen into a fragile membrane between the viewer and that which is viewed while investigating the space between outer and inner. Surfaces revoke any attempt at correlation; grids are interchanged with stripes and dots, and with the supposedly material. The borders between abstract and concrete are suspended. Gauging space for the sake of orientation is impossible. Sometimes, the chance to understand, to orientate, flares up for a split-second – only to disappear in the next instant. Vertigo.
14 years after initiating their collaboration, directors Billy Roisz and Dieter Kovačič have now put forward another cooperative work.

***

Superior1

Superior by Erin Vassilopoulos

USA 2015, 16 min

Two girls, identical twins, spend all their time together. Life without one another is unimaginable, they are one. One night, their father brings home a stranger and agitation sets in. While the others sleep, one of the sisters ventures into the night. When held to the ear, the whooshing of a shell is a promise from the sensual world. Footsteps in the darkened hallway. She is not alone. Using symbolism from the horror film genre among others, director Erin Vassilopoulos describes the sexual awakening of the twins. Via the iconography of the film, she finds a cinematic solution to economically describe the hairline cracks in their relationship, and at the same time, in very few words, to imbibe the new and unknown world with the colours of sensuality. After this night, the bond between the twins will never be the same again.

„Of Stains, Scrap and Tires“: The poem by Bertolt Brecht (in German)

This is the poem by Bertolt Brecht which pervades „Of Stains, Scrap & Tires“ by Sebastian Brameshuber:

„Wir stammen aus einer Waffenfabrik

unser kleiner Bruder ist der Manlicherstutzen.

Unsere Mutter aber, eine steyrische Erzgrube.

wir haben 6 Zylinder und 30 Pferdekräfte,

wir wiegen 22 Zehnter,

unser Radstand beträgt 3 m.,

jedes Hinterrad schwenkt geteilt für sich,

wir haben eine Schwenkachse,

wir liegen in der Kurve wie Klebestreifen.

Unser Motor ist: Ein denkendes Erz.

Mensch, fahre uns!“

**Bertolt Brecht**

Egbert Hörmann on “HOSANNA” (Shorts I)

Egbert Hörmann (member of our Berlinale Shorts selection committee) on “HOSANNA” by Na Young-kil

BLOG.EGBERT

Das südkoreanische Kino ist immer für eine Überraschung gut, und es ist sehr wohl möglich, dass  sich HOSANNA von Young-kil NA mit seinen gerade mal 25 Minuten als der härteste und radikalste Film dieser Berlinale erweist, sozusagen als die Kafka´sche Axt für das gefrorene Meer in uns. Es ist hier eine Radikalität zu Gange, die an TEOREMA und SALO und IM REICH DER SINNE und auch an VIRIDIANA erinnert. Ein Dorf, eine Hölle auf Erden, das Epizentrum aller Todsünden, und ein wahrhaft sprachloser Junge, eine Art Gottesnarr, der wundersam heilende Hände hat.

HOSANNA ist der ätzend scharf abbildende Spiegel eines ratlosen Universums; es gibt da kein J´accuse mehr, stattdessen eine anhaltende Frage, die von einem Gesicht zum nächsten und von einem Bild zum anderen wandert. Und es stellt sich die Frage, was oder wer diese Menschen eigentlich sind. Nichts mehr stützt sie und rechtfertigt und begründet sie: weder eine Kultur, noch eine Geschichte. Vereinzelt und quasi nackt, bar jeden Schicksals, von jeder zukunftsorientierten Planung, jeder Vision von Emanzipation, jeglicher Mythologie ausgeschlossen, verkünden sie nur, die Mühe des Lebens zu erleiden.

Der Moralist Young-kil NA zeigt uns eine Spezies, die einen fernen Planeten bewohnt, eine Gattung, die jener Vorstellung vom Menschen, wie sie die westliche Kultur während ihrer langen Geschichte entwickelt hat, ähnelt, einen matten Reflex davon darstellt.

 „In dem Augenblick, in dem wir aufhören, einander festzuhalten, in dem Augenblick, im dem wir unser gegenseitiges Vertrauen brechen, verschlingt uns die See und das Licht erlischt.“ (James Baldwin)  Nun, dieser Augenblick ist bereits gekommen, er ist sogar schon verstrichen. Und nun stellt HOSANNA die Frage, ob diese Leute Überlebende sind oder lebende Tote und wenn ja, was  sind sie dann. Darauf gibt es keine Antwort, nur eine maliziöse Klarstellung: Diese seltsame Gattung ist eben die, zu der auch wir gehören, jener von ihnen bevölkerte ferne Planet ist der, auf dem auch wir leben.

(Egbert Hörmann)

Egbert Hörmann on “Lama?” (Shorts I)

Egbert Hörmann (member of our Berlinale Shorts selection committee) on “Lama?“ (Why?) by Nadav Lapid

BLOG.EGBERT

LAMA? von Nadav Lapid ist eine Hommage an die Filmkunst: Ein israelischer Regisseur wird gebeten, eine prägende Filmerfahrung zu erinnern – er wählt Pasolinis TEOREMA aus und beschwört somit eine uns allen bekannte Zeit, unsere frühen Jahre, als das Kino der Traum vom großen Leben war, eine Zeit, als Filme Anregung und Erregung brachten, unerschöpfliche Bewegung, endlose Möglichkeiten des Werden und der Transformation, ein erhaschter Blick in andere Welten …

Wir waren alle gefährliche Charaktere aus einem B-Movie. Wir waren schlimm – wir lasen unter dem Einfluss von Eierlikör Gide, Lermontov, Burroughs, Mishima und Francoise Sagan im Schaumbad in der Badewanne, wir fühlten, wie allermodernstes Gedankengut unkontrolliert aus uns herausquollen. Die Zivilisation begann und endete mit uns. Erleuchtung kam in Gestalt von Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau und Marlon Brando auf uns zu. Wir pfiffen auf alles, und nachts fuhren wir immer raus zum Mondsee …

Wir waren cool und gingen oft ins Kino. Wir rutschten tiefer in den roten Plüsch und stöhnten „Mann, was für ein beschissenes Loch!“, wenn wir uns wieder mal auf die bescheuerte Versailles-Tapete aufmerksam machten. Aber Loch hin, Loch her – wir waren immer da, wenn es einen neuen Film im Programm gab. Der Vorhang würde sich gleich öffnen, die Leinwand würde für einen Augenblick nur weiß sein in einer Sekunde höchster Erwartung, die den Körper schwerelos zu machen schien, in der einsetzenden Dunkelheit, in der Überleitung zur Illusion …

Die Macht, die damals von Filmbildern ausging, kryptisch Vorauswissen offenbarend, der Traumsätze, wie unter Wasser gesprochen; „Nevers, das ich vergaß, heute Abend möchte ich dich wiedersehen. Monatelang habe ich dich allnächtlich in Flammen gesetzt, während mein Leib in Flammen aufging in der Erinnerung an ihn  …“ –  der Wartesaal des Bahnhofs von Hiroshima …

das endgültige Zerreissen des geistigen Bandes, der Zusammenbruch des großen Zampano an einem nächtlichen Strand, als er voller Grauen das Ausmaß seiner vergeudeten Liebe und seiner beraubten Seele erkennt …

Anna Magnani als schwangere Witwe Pina, die von deutsche Faschistenkugeln niedergemäht wird, eine der Ur-Sterbeszenen des Kinos überhaupt …

die reglos Liebenden in Dowschenkos russischer Sommernachtverzückung, die dem Ansturm unserer Gefühle nicht widerstehen können, ihr Fleisch öffnen und ihr Innerstes preisgeben  …

Lillian Gish, immer wieder herumgestossen,  gedemütigt und verflucht, die um Mitternacht ihr sterbendes Kind tauft, leidenschaftlich ihren Verführer denunziert und schließlich das feindliche, blendende Weiß der Eisschollen, auf denen sie herumirrt …

der Tod des kleinen japanischen Angestellten auf einer Schaukel eines von ihm geschaffenen Spielplatzes in Tokio, während sanft gleichmütig Schnee aus dem Himmel fällt …

die Tränen von Anna Karina in einem Pariser Kino, die mit denen der Falconetti und unseren verschmelzen …

die Mailänder Bushaltestelle, wo sich Monica Vitti und Alain Delon begegnet sind und die jetzt verwaist ist und nicht einmal von deren Erinnerung heimgesucht wird  …

Marina Vlady, der wir von hinten folgen und eine Mozartmusik kommt auf und sie hat eine Art Satori in der Trabantenstadt: „Ich weiß nicht wo, oder wann. Ich erinnere mich nur, dass es geschah. Ein Gefühl, nach dem ich den ganzen Tag gesucht hatte. Da war der Geruch der Bäume. Und plötzlich hatte ich das Gefühl, dass ich die Welt war und die Welt ich.“ …

der Blick von Cabiria, deren Blick den unseren kreuzt, die uns unter Tränen zulächelt, nachdem sie im Wäldchen ihr ganzes Erspartes verloren hat und ihre Liebe, aber sie hat immer noch sich selbst …

Das alles würden wir nicht vergessen, dachten wir, das schien wichtig, schon damals ….

(Egbert Hörmann)

Reviews of Shorts I by film critic Andrea Dittgen

SHADOWLAND

There is always a moment of enlightenment if a film starts with a journey from the dark into the light such as “Shadowlands”. The view out of the Tunnel is a strong beginning of this extraordinary journey through California. Landscape without men, just nature, photographed in black and white sharpens the eye of the viewer for details he usually doesn’t take notice of. A river from the front, the sea from above, the desert with its wide range, high cliffs – even the snow looks surprisingly different. The shot with the people in a bus is ruining the effect for quite a moment but not the great experience Swedish director John Skoog is giving us.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

Lama?

How do you tell a story about yourself without saying so? You create an alter ego. That’s what director Nadav Lapid did in “Lama?” when he invented an experienced director who was asked by famous French magazine “Les cahiers du cinéma” about the power of cinematography. He recalls an experience 20 years ago when he was a soldier in the army watching “Teorema” by Pasolini. The ending with the close-up of a man’s face with the eyes wide open, surprised and determined, is the picture the directors remembers. Putting the shadow of the soldier standing in front of the screen together with the man’s face creates a completely new version of the film and the triangle between film, life and the reflection of both.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

San Cristóbal

The small village of fishers in the south of Chili is still not ready for two men loving each other. The gay parts and the sad parts of this love story lay close together. While the love story starts quite shy and poetic the reaction of some men in the village is very strong: one of the two guys is beaten up so badly, he can’t go out any more. He decides to leave the village and his lover. Director Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo filmed a simple story in a old fashioned way bringing up all the emotions of a great love story without being corny or embarrassing. The men don’t speak a lot, you have to read their eyes. It’s not clear if it’s a coming of age story or if they know for quite some time that they are gay, and in fact, it doesn’t matter. In its best moments “San Cristóbal” reminds of the innocent love in Murnau’s “Tabu”.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

HOSANNA

In a dirty and abandoned district a young boy acts like Jesus bringing back dead people into life. Not like zombies like normal people. So the dead members of his family lying on the ground will be alive again some moments later. Barely alive they start fighting and killing each other. It’s a cruel story about living on the edge, eating dirty, using drugs, maybe an apocalyptic version of the life in the suburbs of South Korea as a symbol for people who are not capable to make something of their lives. It’s a sad fantasy in calm pictures and a subtle horror story.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

Chitrashala

A room in a tiny museum comes to live because the people in the pictures on the wall come to live. Not as silly as the wax figures in the Hollywood blockbuster series “Night at the Museum”. “Chitrashala” by Indian filmmaker Amit Dutta is a flow of movements. First you see an Oriental palace with a king, his family, servants and a beautiful woman, the king’s great love. Picture by picture you learn how the king lost his kingdom gambling, the king war banished, later rehabilitated when it’s obvious that he was tricked, so you can see a happy ending. The animation is so beautiful because there are only a few parts of the picture that moves: the curtain that hides what is behind the window suddenly opens and we see the king kissing his lover. A door opens and we see a people discussing. We see someone painting, the rain clouds in the picture start moving, you hear the thunder, every minute provides you with a new surprise, beautifully crafted that you are driven into a story with no escape. It’s a fairy tale which encourages to look closely at pictures in museums and makes you think what may lie behind the pictures, A serious candidate not only for the Golden Bear but for the Oscar.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

***

Thank you to Andrea Dittgen for providing us with her reviews!

Berlinale Shorts IV **Premiere: Tue Feb10 10pm CinemaxX 3**

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Snapshot Mon Amour by Christian Bau

Germany 2014, 6 min

After the catastrophe in Fukushima, a new Japanese word came into being: Genpatsu-Rikon, a word pieced-together from the characters for “atom” and “divorce”. In 2011, documentary filmmaker Christian Bau travels to the east coast of Japan to investigate this newly coined word. What did the filmmaker see? “I saw everything.” -„You didn’t see anything, nothing at all!”

***

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El Juego del Escondite (Hide & Seek) by David Muñoz

Spain 2014, 23 min

A film crew visits a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. The refugees are hiding from the war. The children play hide and seek. The film crew tries to stay in the background; they too are hiding. The theme of El Juego del Escondite is composed of the synergies of reality, fiction and the filming process itself. Contradictions arise when disparate worlds collide at the same time and place.
According to theory, reality is an occurrence from which only particular truths are extracted in a film. Thereby, it is expected that a film will sort the events in a particular order of significance. This process destroys reality. Simultaneously, film also wants to be recognised as the only real truth. “As a director I try to observe myself when working, how I behave when the realities of refugees and my own converge. I observe myself, watching how I observe. I feel like a stranger who – also – wants to tell his own story.” (David Muñoz)

***

Däwit

Daewit by David Jansen

Germany 2015, 15 min

A wolf child, a cat, an angel. Young Daewit suffers violence at the hands of his father. He is eventually rescued and able to flee the place of his abuse. He finds refuge with a family of wolves: a foster child in a modern world. Lost, he embarks on a seemingly endless journey, a journey full of riddles and deprivation. He tries to find himself, his identity – amidst the all-encompassing sorrow. At the end, he flies back to the beginning and finds peace in forgiveness.
Filmmaker David Jansen found inspiration for the film in the work of Belgian graphic designer and illustrator Frans Masereel. Processing the most diverse emotions in his woodcuts, Frans Masereel developed a noticeably expressionistic style, in which the symbolic and concrete are interwoven. David Jansen transfers that approach to this animated film, in both form and content. Narration meets association and vice versa.

***

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Copyright Marc Johnson

YúYú by Marc Johnson

France / Spain / USA 2014, 15 min

In the beginning there is nature. Landscape footage of the “Five Dragons” in the Yangtze Valley, the third-largest river in the world, a Unesco World Heritage site in the Chinese province of Chóngqìng, is coupled with views of the gigantic city of Chóngqìng, which resembles a juggernaut and dominates the valley.
The beekeeper Shé Zuŏ Bīn performs a traditional rite of spring on one of the rocks. He allows queen bees to be placed on his body who then summon worker bees. By the end, Shé Zuŏ Bīn’s body is entirely covered by bees. In a kind of trance, he stands utterly still. The buzzing of bees dominates all. He trusts the bees completely, and for a moment they lose all that is dangerous, terrifying. They are a protective shield.

***

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Bad at Dancing by Joanna Arnow

USA 2015, 11 min

Interior, Night. Matt and Isabel have sex. Their bedroom is sparse. It is silent except for their breathing. Joanna, the flatmate, enters the room and lies down right next to them on their bed. Only briefly noting this interruption, Isabel continues moving on top of Matt, undeterred.
Matt (after a while, without glancing sideways): „What is she doing here?
Joanna: „I couldn’t sleep.“
Isabel (still having sex) „Were we being too loud?“
Joanna (still lying next to them): „No…”
Bad at Dancing is a chamber piece and a comedy, a sex game. Isabel and Matt are together, Joanna seems to be pursuing Matt and maybe Isabel too. Joanna tries out various approaches to achieve her aim. The three move together, vying for control – dressed and naked. Always introversive. Always direct. Envy and emotion are given a surreal context. The question of borders and their necessity is raised anew. A rickshaw always drives on three wheels.

***

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Symbolic Threats by Mischa Leinkauf, Lutz Henke, Matthias Wermke

Germany 2015, 15 min

On the night of 22 July 2014, Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf hoist two white American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. They take the US flags down and fold them in the prescribed orderly fashion.
Poetry or threat? An act of surrender or perhaps art? These were the theories that New York puzzled over last summer. How can one incident be interpreted in so many ways? By means of press reports, Symbolic Threats allows the public at large to express their extreme disparity of interpretation. Inspired by the heated debate over the two flags that suddenly appeared on the towers of the bridge, the film asks what kind of societal scope art has in the present day. What happens when threatened freedom reinstates art with the element of danger? Who or what makes it into a threat? Are we safe in the city? What is next?

Berlinale Shorts III **Premiere: Tue Feb10 4pm CinemaxX 5**

Lo Sum Choe Sum

Lo Sum Choe Sum (3 Year 3 Month Retreat) by Dechen Roder

Bhutan 2015, 20 min

In the traditional Buddhist mediation practice of Lo Sum Choe Sum, monks, nuns and other devout practitioners withdraw from worldly life for a 3 year and 3 month retreat. This period is defined as the time deemed necessary to attain a higher level of clarity and transformation.
Lhamo is a young woman living in Bhutan. She is on a journey. Driving through the mountains by bus. During a stop, she climbs a mountain on her own and almost misses the bus. Then all the travellers are brought to a halt when police search the bus. Lhamo is arrested. In carefully composed tableaux that juxtapose city and rural life as well as traditional and contemporary ways of living, the director tells the story of a woman whose perception of autonomy is owed to the experiences and spiritual practices of her past.

***

Architektura_Falcon, © Ulu Braun
© Ulu Braun

Architektura by Ulu Braun

Germany 2015, 15 min

In the beginning there was a brick, which flew through space. It flew past skyscrapers in a city in Asia and keeps reappearing in this film about construction and destruction. Brick by brick – where will that ultimately lead? A father shows the world to his child – that will be all yours one day, he says. Soap bubbles float upward. It is all a cyclical affair. The tableaux Ulu Braun assembles are playful, associative, colourful and powerful. In his realm of imagery, sizes, relations and contexts become malleable. Owing to the deconstruction of proportions and coherencies, Ulu Braun’s narrative becomes a fable. Architecture is the game of positioning bodies in light. Darkness needs its space. The future is already misaligned.

***

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Lembusura by Wregas Bhanuteja

Indonesia 2014, 10 min

Lembusura, or the legend of the mountain demon. A rain of ash falls on Java. Kelud, a volcano located to this east of the Indonesian island, is active. As one of the island’s most dangerous mountains, it is known for violent and explosive eruptions. And when it rains ash, it pours. Time and again, everything gets covered in fine grey dust – houses, streets, blossoms and umbrellas. According to legend, the ash rain is caused by an angry demon named Lembusura who wears a magic hood and lives inside the volcano.
Young men set off to conquer their mythical past. One is dressed as a demon – with the largest breasts, immediately provoking the others to laugh. The enactment of the search is shown in its entirety. Lembusura dances, climbs over trees and hills. All the earnestness applied in ethnological and particularly, in postcolonial discourse when referring to the mysticism and tales of other cultures is suspended. Suspended from the legacy of the story itself. The rain of ash falls relentlessly, and the muezzin calls.

***

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Copyright Christopher Rejano

Blood Below the Skin by Jennifer Reeder

USA 2015, 32 min

Blood Below the Skin chronicles a week in the lives of three teenage girls who attend the same high school class. Coming from different social circles, the girls prepare for the most important night of their life – Prom Night. They have formed a dance group and rehearse the choreography. Two of the girls are drawn to one another and fall in love. The third is forced to take care of her distraught mother in the wake of her father’s disappearance. Each girl finds refuge in her room and bed, comfort and a place to explore new feelings. The music blasting from the turntable provides a magical synchronicity between them all – the space-time continuum is expanded by the dimension of music.
Jennifer Reeder tells everyday stories with stylistic elements of magic realism that recall Latin American cinema. All it takes is the power of thought in order to express your love to another.

***

03

maku (veil) by Yoriko Mizushiri

Japan 2014, 6 min

The curtain rises: a Kyōgen stage, an examination room at an eye specialist’s, a sushi counter. There are two people who meet in this. Feelings of the most diverse kind, alternating between fear and fascination, between tenderness and sanctuary, flare up and are immediately put into practice. The feelings of the other are explored. In slow, flowing movements, and carried by a web of sounds, Yoriko Mizushiri’s pastel-coloured animation blends and fuses colours and gestures, actions and objects into a sensual, erotic experience. The connotation of an object is determined by emotion.

***

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MAR DE FOGO (SEA OF FIRE) by Joel Pizzini

Brazil 2014, 8 min

In1930, the Brazilian filmmaker and poet Mario Peixoto produced a masterpiece of Brazilian film history, the two hour long silent filmLimite, inspired by European expressionist and avant-garde cinema. In 2014, Joel Pizzini paid homage to the film, and in particular its filmmaker, by creating a film montage using images from Limite and additional documentary material of interviews from the 1970s and 1980s. Mario Peixoto never finished another film, even though he continued to work on diverse projects. MAR DE FOGO also features a freely imagined new sequence for Peixoto’s next, but never completed film as envisaged by Joel Pizzini. He tries to invoke Peixoto’s vision while making Limite and to visually explore the feeling he had when he had the inspiration for the film.

Berlinale Shorts II **Premiere: Mon Feb9 10pm CinemaxX 3**

planetsigma_still06

PLANET Σ by Momoko Seto

France 2014, 12 min

The universe in all its infinitude. On planet Sigma, enormous creatures are trapped inside the ice. And then, all of a sudden explosions erupt from subterranean volcanoes. The ice begins to melt; a global warming concludes the giants’ deep slumber and new life begins. The creatures crawl forth, out of the ice. With the aid of slow motion, Seto fictionalises the unfolding of events. Liberated from time and space, she draws ever closer to the proceedings, in extreme close-ups. PLANET ∑ is the third part of her planet series.

***

Pebbles at your Door 3

Pebbles at Your Door by Vibeke Bryld

Denmark 2015, 18 min

“If we all lived in paradise, there wouldn’t be any tears or separation, no hunger and no waiting, no suffering and no oppression, no war, no death. We’d no longer need hope. We’d lose all those hopes we so dearly love. We Koreans call hope ‚Han‘.“ (Park Kyong-Ni)
Harmonia lived a happy life in North Korea, until one day in her early twenties when she realised the truth. A truth, she says, that she did not want to accept for many years: that which surrounds her is a fractured paradise. Late, but not too late she hopes, she sets out on the solitary path into the unknown, to the world beyond the narrow borders of the North Korean regime. She flees via China to South Korea. It takes almost a year before she arrives. She comes too late. But there is no returning. Director Vibeke Bryld uses photographs and postcards to piece together Harmonia’s life.

***

DISSONANCE_5Dissonance by Till Nowak

Germany 2015, 17 min

What is reality and what is imagination? Who defines the boundaries? A gifted pianist plays piano. The piano reflects the pianist’s emotion, exploding every dimension. As does the emotion: the man misses his daughter, is no longer allowed to see her. Had the man seen a doctor however, he would most likely have been diagnosed with a psychosis. Would, should, could.
He lives on the street. The mother is worried, as the man who was once her husband sinks ever deeper. What kind of world is this, that puts a smile on his face, while inspiring nothing but fear in her? The daughter has no fear. All that remains is longing.
In Dissonance, reality and fantasy merge, flow into one another. 3D animation and live action become one. An odyssey through time and space. A modern fairytale.

***

4

Of Stains, Scrap & Tires by Sebastian Brameshuber

Austria / France 2014, 19 min

Engines, axles, cylinders – the components of bliss. Whatever cannot be resold in Europe is shipped to Africa by the scrap-masters of Erzberg. Happiness is found in easily made money (seldom), the beauty of a man-made machine (rare), and in the real and imagined freedom on wheels. The audiovisual poetry of the garage, scrap parts and paintball field are accompanied by another master of cars, Bobby Sommer, reciting a poem by Bertolt Brecht about the singing cars of Steyr. While promising cars of silent ease, the advertising text does not withhold their connection to the weapon industry.
Sebastian Brameshuber was represented in the Berlinale Forum with his documentary film Und in der Mitte, da sind wir in 2014.

***

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Copyright Iris Janke

Take What You Can Carry by Matt Porterfield

USA / Germany 2015, 30 min

A journey through day and night, night and day. Lilly has been living in Berlin for a while. She is a US American passing through. She has a lover and no penthouse. The relationship is vague. “You come and go as you please”, he says. “What do you mean?”, she asks. “Nothing.”, he says, “I’m happy when you’re here.” – “I’m also happy when I’m here.” Then he plays guitar and she embraces him from behind. Only briefly, then she packs her suitcase. Lilly drifts between worlds and places. Looking for people and connections but remaining in the external. During rehearsals with the performance group Gob Squad, her thoughts and wishes thrive: words become actions. Back at the apartment, a letter from her home awaits her. Matt Porterfield calmly tells of the longing to arrive in quietly composed scenes.