Berlinale 2017

recap, part two

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, let’s take a look on some selected festival films that kinda wowed us during these last ten days.

STRONG ISLAND by Yance Ford // Director Ford delivers a very personal and calm investigation into the murder of his brother William Ford Jr. in 1992, which also tells a lot about family values and race in America. And even though topic and execution might be a totally different one, “Strong Island“ plays in the same league as Caouette’s “Tarnation“ in terms of unfolding a striking intimacy that’s almost painful to watch.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by Luca Guadagnino // It would be stupid to simply label “Call Me By Your Name“ a coming out flick. It’d be equally incorrect to reduce it to a sun-kissed coming-of-age story. Maybe it would make much more sense to regard this masterly film as a study in relationships and human nature in general, which shows once again that absolutely nothing can save you from the emotional turmoil infatuation is throwing at you like a force of nature - especially not when you know that things most likely won’t end well for you. Already one of this year’s best with Timothee Chalamet cementing his status as being the next (very) big thing. 

REVOLUTION OF SOUND: TANGERINE DREAM by Margarete Kreuzer // Edgar Froese’s pioneering project Tangerine Dream never really got the credit it so clearly deserved, I think. Compared to Kraftwerk or Krautrock overlords such as Can or Neu! the trio appears to be unloved even. And maybe that's exactly why “Revolution of Sound“ feels much more like a laudation than a (critical) analysis of their career and musical development. The original footage that illustrates the “band’s“ first ten years is stunning nevertheless.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO by Raoul Peck // “The story of the negro in America, is the story of America. It is not a pretty story“. The prose of novelist/activist/poet James Baldwin is hitting you via a very transformative voiceover from Samuel L. Jackson, while a masterful - and almost meditative - collage of images from six decades of discrimination forms a muscular and vital picture that´s much more than just a simple social critique of the American conscious and habitus of inhumanity. Essential - and a worthy winner at the Academy Awards this forthcoming weekend.

BUTTERFLY KISSES by Rafael Kapelinski // The crisp b/w imagery already gives you a hint that Kapelinski’s debut isn’t just another entry to the steadily increasing list of downbeat British estate dramas. It might start out as this typical testosterone-driven exercise in young laddism but enters completely different - and very dark - territory soon after the tone is set... and it does so in very unconventional yet convincing fashion. Weirdly enough, “Butterfly Kisses“ biggest strength is that it isn’t too interested in giving an elaborate psychological profile of its troubled protagonist.