Berlinale 2017

Recap, Part One

It’s almost impossible to not be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of movies screened at the Berlinale - presented in its many different sections and the EFM -, and obviously 2017 wasn’t any different. Trying to figure out which film could be worth checking out, and trying to understand the motivation behind selecting particular ones for whatever section - or: at all - is another task that’s close to being impossible to handle. Now that the festival has come to an end for this year, and the winners are announced - the very majority of them rightly considered as being worthy laureates, from what we’ve heard - let’s take a look on some selected festival films that kinda wowed us during these last ten days.

LA LIBERTAD DEL DIABLO by Everardo González // The idea behind González’ latest doc might be a rather simple one: interviewing perpetrators and victims of the omnipresent level of violence which turned Mexico's society into a heavily traumatized one. The result though will haunt you for many days to come due to the powerful testimonies and the clever/cinematic way they were captured.

HAVE A NICE DAY by Liu Jian // Animated movies clearly designed for an adult audience aren’t necessarily everybody’s cup of tea, but it simply would be foolish to miss this Chinese gem, which feels as if Evan Hecox was in charge of bringing one of those quirky leftfield thrillers the Coen brothers once were famous for to life.

MENASHE by Joshua Weinstein // Entirely filmed in Yiddish, Weinstein’s debut delivers a touching portrait high on humanity but low on any kind of mythology or obsolete clichés that puts a sensitive father-and-son relationship in its spotlight. It must be weird though to do a movie on a closed community - in particular case: Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community - that mainly uses non-professional actors whose beliefs forbids them to see the finished result.

GOLDEN EXITS by Alex Ross Perry // With his breakthrough film “Listen Up Philip“, director Perry delivered a darkly funny/cynical take on artistic life. Those with high hopes that he will return to similar territory with “Golden Exits“ probably won’t be in favor of his latest outing - if you’re looking for an emotionally complex take on relationships and its implied emotional turmoil played by a superb cast (particularly Sevigny and Horowitz) though, well, this one here could be this year’s holy grail.

DISCREET by Travis Mathews // To call Jonny Mars’ character damaged goods would be the understatement of the year. His Alex is a completely broken and woeful person, haunted by the abuse he experienced as a child. When he accidentally finds out that his abuser now lives nearby, the immediate desire of revenge strikes Alex - unfortunately the monster he expected is in a mental condition that won’t even allow to slightly remember the past. What could’ve been played out as a straight revenge thriller gets turned into a rather abstract and challenging psychological portrait of a deeply scarred individual, which follows the logic of a feverish dream.