Friday, February 03, 2012

Out now: the Berlinale 2012 competition programme

From the homepage of the 62nd Berlinale (9-19 February, 2012).

Opening Ceremony
Les Adieux à la Reine / Farewell My Queen | Leb wohl, meine Königin!. D: Benoït Jacquot. France, Spain 2011. C: Léa Seydoux, Diane Kruger, Virginie Ledoyen, Xavier Beauvois, Noemie Lvovsky. 100'. Sidonie, Queen Marie Antoinette’s young reader, is wide-eyed witness of the first few hours of the French Revolution. An historical drama with ironic overtones that also draws parallels to the present.

Aujourd'hui / Tey. D: Alain Gomis. France, Senegal 2011. French. C: Saül Williams, Aïssa Maïga, Djolof M'bengue, Anisia Uzeyman. 86'. Director Alain Gomis provides a fascinating variation on a recurrent theme in Senegalese cinema with this story of Saché, who leaves America and returns to Africa where he spends the last day of his life encountering the past as if he were seeing it for the first time.

Competition (out of competition)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / Extrem laut und unglaublich nah. D: Stephen Daldry. USA 2011. C: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow. Rating R12. 129'. Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Jonatha Safran Foer’s bestselling novel. Having lost his father during the terror attacks of 9/11 a traumatised boy embarks on an odyssey across New York.

A moi seule / Coming Home. D: Frédéric Videau. France 2011. C: Agathe Bonitzer, Reda Kateb, Hélène Fillières, Noémie Lvovsky. 91'. A young woman sits at a remote bus stop looking at the image of a missing girl. It is her own photograph; eight years ago, Gaelle was kidnapped and shut away from the world. Now she has to get used to her new-found liberty.

Cesare deve morire / Caesar Must Die. D: Paolo & Vittorio Taviani. Italy 2011. C: Cosimo Rega, Salvatore Striano, Giovanni Arcuri, Antonio Frasca. 76'. The film observes rehearsals for a production of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Cesar’ at the Roman maximum security prison Rebbibia. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s film follows the inmates as they prepare for their performance and draws parallels between this classical drama and the world of today.

Barbara. D: Christian Petzold. Germany 2012. C: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock, Christiana Hecke. 105'. Barbara, a doctor, submits an application to leave the GDR and is punished by being sent to work in a hospital in a small town. While her Western lover is busy planning her escape Barbara meets a colleague who makes her less sure of her plans.

Dictado / Childish Games. D: Antonio Chavarrías. Spain 2011. C: Juan Diego Botto, Bárbara Lennie, Mágica Pérez. 95'. Daniel and Maria provide a home for an orphaned girl, but Daniel suddenly finds himself pursued by the demons of his repressed past. A psychological thriller about crime and punishment in which director Antonio Chavarrías’ doffs his hat to Alfred Hitchcock.

Metéora / Meteora. D: Spiros Stathoulopoulos. Germany, Greece 2012. Greek, Russian. C: Theo Alexander, Tamila Koulieva. 82'. A tender love affair enfolds between a monk and a nun at the foot of the remote Greek Metéora monasteries in a film akin to wordless, pious poem. A film about love and spirituality.

Captive. D: Brillante Mendoza. France, Philippines, Germany, United Kingdom 2011. Tagalog, English. C: Isabelle Huppert, Katherine Mulville, Marc Zanetta, Maria Isabel Lopez, Rustica Carpio. Brillante Mendoza revisits historical events that occurred in 2001 for his film that explores the experiences of twelve tourists and Christian missionaries who are kidnapped by Muslim terrorists and forced to walk for several months through the Philippine jungle.

Competition (out of competition)
Shadow Dancer. D: James Marsh. United Kingdom, Ireland 2012. C: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aidan Gillem. Collette is arrested following an aborted bomb attack in London. She is given the choice: either spy on her own Republican family or go to prison and never see her son again.

L'Enfant d'en haut / Sister. D: Ursula Meier. Switzerland, France 2012. C: Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein, Martin Compston, Gillian Anderson. Portrait of a twelve-year-old boy who tries to offset his breadline existence by selling stolen skis. What appears on the surface to be a study of everyday life is in fact an exploration of the contradictions and hidden depths of an ostensibly prosperous world.

Presentation of European Shooting Stars 2012
Jayne Mansfield's Car. D: Billy Bob Thornton. Russian Federation, USA 2011. English. C: Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick. Billy Bob Thornton (ALL THE PRETTY HORSES) directs and appears in this story of a culture clash between an American and a British family set in the turbulent era of the Civil Rights movement and anti-Vietnam protests of the late sixties.

Competition (out of competition)
Jin líng Shi San Chai / The Flowers of War | Die Blumen des Krieges. D: Zhang Yimou. People's Republic of China 2011. Mandarin, English. C: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Atsuro Watabe. Zhang Yimou’s latest work is a screen adaptation of the Nanking massacre. An American man becomes protector of a group of schoolgirls on the run from invading Japanese troops.

Was bleibt / Home for the Weekend. D: Hans-Christian Schmid. Germany 2012. C: Lars Eidinger, Corinna Harfouch, Sebastian Zimmler, Ernst Stötzner, Picco von Groote. A father, mother and two grown-up sons give the outward appearance of being a perfect family unit. But when the bipolar mother suddenly disappears old buried wounds reopen. An intimate film that showcases the actors’ performances and explores the topics of guilt and silence.

Tabu. D: Miguel Gomes. Portugal, Germany, Brazil, France 2012. Portuguese. C: Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral, Ana Moreira, Carloto Cotta. When eccentric Aurora dies, the old lady’s former lover appears and recounts an adventurous love story set in colonial times in Africa. A nostalgic, passionate and ironic piece of storytelling.

Hommage to Meryl Streep: Competition Special Screening
The Iron Lady / Die Eiserne Lady. D: Phyllida Lloyd. United Kingdom 2011. C: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Roger Allam, Susan Brown. An acting tour de force from Meryl Streep in a biopic in which the Academy Award winner embodies ‘iron lady’ Margaret Thatcher. Using historical events as a backdrop, the film concentrates on the personality of Britain’s former prime minister.

Was bleibt / Home for the Weekend. D: Hans-Christian Schmid. Germany 2012. C: Lars Eidinger, Corinna Harfouch, Sebastian Zimmler, Ernst Stötzner, Picco von Groote. A father, mother and two grown-up sons give the outward appearance of being a perfect family unit. But when the bipolar mother suddenly disappears old buried wounds reopen. An intimate film that showcases the actors’ performances and explores the topics of guilt and silence.

Kebun binatang / Postcards from the Zoo. D: Edwin. Indonesia, Germany, Hong Kong, China 2012. Indonesian. C: Ladya Cheryl, Nicholas Saputra. Script: Edwin, D. Sumolang, T. Wattimena. Lana was left behind in Jakarta zoo as a child and raised by zoo keepers. The zoo is the only place she knows. One day, she moves away with a cowboy who can do magic. But the zoo remains the place of their dreams and desires.

Bai lu yuan / White Deer Plain. D: Wang Quan'an. People's Republic of China 2011. Mandarin. C: Zhang Fengyi, Zhang Yuqi, Wu Gang. Script: Wang Quan'an. China in 1912. The collapse of imperial China unleashes a fierce struggle for land ownership. Director Wang Quan’an’s epic uses the fortunes of two landowning farming families to explore the fate of the Chinese people throughout different historical periods.

Competition Special Screening
Haywire. D: Steven Soderbergh. USA 2011. C: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas. Script: Lem Dobbs. Performing all her own stunts, mixed martial arts icon Gina Carano fights her way through Seven Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE. Carano plays top agent Mallory Kane who is betrayed by one of her own colleagues. If she wants to save her skin, she must find out who is behind the plot.

Csak a szél / Just the Wind. D: Bence Fliegauf. Hungary, Germany, France 2012. Hungarian. C: Lajos Sárkány, Katalin Toldi, Gyöngyi Lendvai, György Toldi. Script: Bence Fliegauf. The murder of a Romany family in a Hungarian village confirms the family’s Romany neighbours’ worst fears. Now they live in fear that they too will be the target of terror. The camera stays hot on the heels of the protagonists, making the breathless escalation of events physically palpable.

Gnade / Mercy. D: Matthias Glasner. Germany, Norway 2012. German, Norwegian, English. C: Jürgen Vogel, Birgit Minichmayr, Henry Stange, Ane Dahl Torp, Maria Bock. Script: Kim Fupz Aakeson. 132'. A fatal hit-and-run accident changes forever the life of a German couple that had hoped for a new beginning in the Norwegian town of Hammerfest. Caught in the eternal twilight of the Arctic winter the pair finds themselves faced with fundamental questions about crime and punishment.

En Kongelig Affære / A Royal Affair | Die Königin und der Leibarzt. D: Nikolaj Arcel. Denmark, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany 2012. Danish. C: Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Trine Dyrholm, David Dencik, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard. Script: N. Arcel, R. Heisterberg. 130'. The story of the physician Johann Friedrich Struensee from Altona who, in 1768, began to implement the ideas of the Enlightenment at the Danish court and paid for this with his life. A mixture of historical-political thriller, romance and tragedy.

Rebelle / War Witch. D: Kim Nguyen. Canada 2012. French, Lingala. C: Rachel Mwanza, Alain Bastien, Serge Kanyinda, Ralph Prosper, Mizinga Mwinga. 90'. Child soldier Komona escapes from the jungle in order to bury her murdered parents. Told from the perspective of an adolescent girl, the film – shot in authentic locations and cast with non-professional actors – visualises the horrors of civil war.

Competition (out of competition)
Bel Ami. D: Declan Donnellan, Nick Ormerod. United Kingdom 2011. C: Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, Colm Meaney. Rating R12. 102'. Based on the novel of the same name published in 1885 by Guy de Maupassant, the film portrays a Parisian careerist upstart who ruthlessly exploits the entanglement of politics, economics, media and his private life to his own ends.

Competition (out of competition)
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. D: Tsui Hark. Hong Kong, China 2011. Mandarin. C: Jet Li, Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Kwai Lun Mei. 122'. At the end of the Ming Dynasty, corrupt eunuchs terrorise China. The ‘Western Office’ under Commander Yu is particularly violent. Yet in Zhao Huai’an (Jet Li), the powers that be find their adversary. Hong Kong based director Tsui Hark creates a piece of Eastern genre cinema in 3D.

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