59th Berlinale

59th Berlinale, Germany (February 5 - February 15, 2009)

Globalization. German filmmaker Tom Tykwer made a Hollywood thriller (The International). Very French cineaste Bertrand Tavernier shot a film in the swamps of Louisiana in the English language (In the Electric Mist). Imagine. German Florian Gallenberger's new film develops a Chinese background (John Rabe). On the other hand, the very German story of a former Nazi woman was filmed by British director Stephen Daldry (The Reader). What a mess! Not that the films were bad. They were unexpected. They paid for certain professional skills with a certain absence of a director's handwriting. It may be the economic crisis on the horizon which lets some filmmakers avoid risks, and lets them test-drive popular forms of genre cinema. It's maybe not (yet) a tendency. It may, however, indicate a transition — a transition which this-year's Berlinale showed clearly though probably not intentionally.

The classics of modern cinema. One still knows what one gets from a film by Manoel de Oliveira, Andrzej Wajda, Theo Angelopoulos. What an elegance and composure of narration (Oliveira's Eccentricities of a Blond Haired Girl). What an eye-catching move through times and places (Angelopoulos' The Dust of Time). What a painful look back to his and his films' own history, in Andrzej Wajda's Sweet Rush. Maybe their time is over — Angelopoulos was born in 1935, Wajda in 1926, Oliveira in 1908. Their films are still there, and among the best ones in Berlin — even if a younger public and the zeitgeist may have problems with them.

The next generation. It couldn't be better. The international jury, headed by British actress Tilda Swinton and with, among others, Swedish writer Henning Mankell, German enfant terrible Christoph Schlingensief and Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet — awarded the main Bears consequently to young directors, to films far from the temptations of the industry and from the necessity of being popular: The Milk of Sorrow by Claudia Llosa (born in 1976, Peru), Gigante by Adrián Biniez (born in 1974, Argentina), Everyone Else by Maren Ade (born in 1976, Germany). Berlin '09 marked the arrival of a new generation of filmmakers.

For the rest, fest head Dieter Kosslick, whose contract has just been extended until 2013, manages to make the Berlinale bigger from year to year (this year, he added Friedrichstadt-Palast to the festival venues, a famous and even legendary Berlin revue theater). He enriched the four classical sections of the Competition, the Panorama, the Forum and the Retrospective ("70mm — Bigger than Life") with a series of additional sections, events, panels, screenings of German films, homages (to composer Maurice Jarre), and a gigantic (but useful) Talent Campus which included "Talent Press", a workshop for young film critics co-organized by FIPRESCI. (Klaus Eder)

FIPRESCI PRIZE

La teta asustada The Milk of Sorrow
(Peru/Spain, 2009, 95 mins) Jury: Borislav Andjelic (Serbia) , Mihai Chirilov (Romania) , Sergi Sanchez (Spain) , Richard Cline (Great Britain) , Nils Saeveras (Norway) , Andreas R. Becker (Germany) , Margit Tönson (Estonia) , Gulnara Abikeyeva (Kazakhstan) , Enrico Bosten (Germany)
International Sales: The Match Factory

Balthasarstr. 79-81, D 50670 Köln, Germany, T +49 (221) 539 7090, michael.weber@matchfactory.de.

Nord North
(Norway, 2009, 79 mins)
International Sales: Memento Films

6, cité Paradis, F 75010 Paris, France, T +33 (1) 533 490 28, F +33 (6) 62 558 416, nicholas@memento-films.com.

Ai no mukidashi Love Exposure

by Sono Sion  

(Japan, 2008, 237 mins)
International Sales: Phantom Film

4F BellFiveBldg, 2-34-13 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, T +81 (3) 5771 2046, sakumi@phantom-film.com, www.phantom-film.com.

A Journey from Fear to Freedom

by Sergi Sanchez

What is "cinéma-verité" exactly? According to Jean Rou... read more

An Off-Road Movie

by Nils Saeveras

I suppose that the Norwegian North could be called a "... read more

"I'm a pervert with dignity"

by Enrico Bosten

What a success story! A 237-minute movie about a perve... read more

True Stories

by Richard Cline

There was a strong vein of real life running through t... read more

Older Women, Younger Men

by Mihai Chirilov

Why do older women get punished for being in a relatio... read more

A Newcomer in Berlin

by Carlos Augusto Brandão

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Borders Inside Us

by Gulnara Abikeyeva

In reality, a good film has a special appealing qualit... read more

Portraits of Broken Souls

by Margit Tönson

Ritsuko (Moriya Ayako) spends her days carefully detec... read more

Borders and Chaos

by Andreas R. Becker

Life, usually, is a mess. Film, in most cases, isn't. ... read more

An Elegy of Solitude

by Borislav Andjelic

Despite the title, there is nothing gigantic in Gigant... read more

In the Berlinale again

by Myrna Silveira Brandão

After receiving the Golden Bear last year with The Eli... read more