64th Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival

64th Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival, Germany (February 6 - February 16, 2014)

The 64th Berlinale opened with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson's most unapologetic film to date. Anderson is a director who doesn't fear overwhelming us with style: the film is a maze of decoration and detail, packed with colonial design elements, star cameos, fun typography, and opaque tableaux (lots of stark faces against orange and brown panels). With its precise use of flashing color, the film resembled a collection of illustrated plates.

Head of the competition jury was James Schamus, one of the most intriguing figures in film, who represents the intersection of three worlds: a university professor as well as a studio executive and a screenwriter. It's unusual to find an academic who can greenlight films, turning high theory into live action, but Schamus has done just that: his first feature as producer was Raul Ruiz's 16mm The Golden Boat (1990), and he has been a key collaborator on Ang Lee's great Lust, Caution (2007), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and the underrated Hulk (2003). The latter is an electrifying film which may be the most ambitious, experimental blockbuster ever made.

The Panorama section was typically eclectic, spanning work from Tsai Ming-liang and Robert Lepage, to topical films focused on sexuality, to interesting new takes on genre. Opening night was Nuoc (2030), billed as the first Vietnamese underwater sci-fi: a premise which proved irresistible to audiences. Nghiem-minh Nguyen Vo's promising film combined a Tsai-like interest in bodies with a detective story and the feel of minimalist slow cinema.

Elsewhere, the Berlinale featured a Ken Loach retrospective, tributes to Maximilian Schell, Miklós Jancsó and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a splendid new film from Alain Resnais, Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter), which captivated the FIPRESCI competition jury with its play of intense emotions and unreal settings.

One of the most exciting sections this year was Aesthetics of Shadow, an examination of lighting effects in Japanese, German and US films from 1915 to 1950. This program brought many little-known histories to light: the influence of Weimar street films on early Japanese cinema, and the phenomenon of Sessue Hayakawa, the glamorous Japanese-born Hollywood star who was a sex symbol for American women — a combination that has yet to be repeated. (Lesley Chow)

Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival: www.berlinale.de

FIPRESCI PRIZE

Life of Riley Aimer, boire et chanter Life of Riley
(France, 2013, 108 mins) Jury: Michel Ciment (France) , Dubravka Lakic (Serbia) , Hauvick Habechian (Lebanon) , Lesley Chow (Australia) , Paulo Portugal (Portugal) , Sophie Charlotte Rieger (Germany) , Mihai Fulger (Romania) , Luuk Imhann (The Netherlands) , Bettina Schuler (Germany)
International Sales: Le Pacte

5 rue DARCET - 75017 PARIS - France
T: +33 1 44 69 59 59
e-mail: sales@le-pacte.com,
web: www.le-pacte.com/international/home

The Way He Looks Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho The Way He Looks
(Brazil, 2014, 95 mins)
International Sales: Films Boutique

Köpenicker Str. 184 10997 Berlin - Deutschland
T: +49 30 695 378 50, Fax: +49 30 695 378 51
e-mail: info@filmsboutique.com,
web: www.filmsboutique.com

Forma Forma Forma
(Japan, 2013, 145 mins)
International Sales: Free Stone Productions Co.

217-3-25-18 Jingumae Shibuya Tokyo
150-0001 JAPAN, T: +81 90 91028671
e-mail: miyuki.takamatsu@freestone.jp,
e-mail: info@freestone.main.jp,
web: www.freestone.main.jp

Slices of Cake

by Michel Ciment

The Berlin FIPRESCI Jury watched some accomplished fil... read more

The Pre-Lit Film

by Lesley Chow

Aesthetics of Shadow, the retrospective at this year's... read more

A Touching Look at an Isolation

by Paulo Portugal

Brazilian cinema had a big presence at this year's Ber... read more

The Power of Subtlety

by Sophie Charlotte Rieger

The Panorama section of the Berlinale usually includes... read more

Nothing is Real

by Luuk Imhann

"Almost nothing is real," says Jane Pollard during her... read more

From My Berlinale Diary

by Dubravka Lakic

Once again this was an outstanding film festival! In m... read more

Tormented Childhood

by Hauvick Habechian

  If there was an omnipresent theme at this ye... read more

A Walk on the Wild Side

by Mihai Fulger

Nothing is accidental and yet nothing is predictable i... read more

Women and Work

by Bettina Schuler

Jacky (Julia Hummer) is a single mother based in Berli... read more

Tenderness and Sensibility

by Myrna Silveira Brandão

The FIPRESCI Prize for the Panorama of the 64th Berlin... read more

The Diversity of the Panoramic View

by Steven Yates

Steven Yates picks out a selection of films from across the world in the sometimes innovative but at other times bizarre set of themes and subjects found in the Panorama section.     read more