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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

From Nymphomaniac to war… in Ukraine

The 64th annual Berlin International Film Festival is scheduled to be held from February 6 to 16, 2014
11 February, 2014 - 11:07

The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film by the US director Wes Anderson, is expected to open the forum. The authors of the picture, stylized as a classical screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s detective fiction, promise “murder, revenge, love, and adventures.” The impressive cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, and F. Murray Abraham.

Although part of the main contest, The Grand Budapest Hotel is not competing for a prize. Also out of competition will be other films in the Berlinale Special lineup. Festival audiences are particularly looking forward to see the premiere of the first part of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, a 2.5-hour-long uncut version which is unlikely to be shown in movie theaters. What is expected to cause a more commercial and advertising stir is David O. Russell’s American Hustle which has been nominated for ten Oscars and stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper. The movie’s scenario, previously banned for being too controversial, is based on real events – an FBI crime reenactment, as a result of which many high-ranking US political figures had to stand trial. There are also many stars – Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, and Bill Murray – in George Clooney’s adventurous drama The Monuments Men.

What will also arouse general interest is Martin Scorsese’s new and so far untitled documentary on The New York Review of Books, an American cult literary journal. The screening of this unfinished version will be accompanied by a debate with participation of the director and other key figures of the project.

The competition itself comprises 20 films. One of best known names is the independent US filmmaker Richard Linklater. His last year’s work, Before Midnight, received a unanimous critical acclaim. He is taking part in the competition with Boyhood starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Peru’s Claudia Llosa, the star of Berlinale 2009, when her stunning The Milk of Sorrow won the Golden Bear, is now experimenting with mainstream – her Aloft is a US-Spanish-French co-production that stars Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, and Melanie Laurent. Among the other participants are Two Men in Town (La voie de l‘ennemi) directed by Rachid Bouchareb (France) starring the brilliant Afro-American actor Forest Whitaker, In Order of Disappearance by Hans Petter Moland (Norway) starring Stellan Skarsgard, The Little House by Yoji Yamada (Japan), ‘71 by Yann Demange (UK), Stratos by Yannis Economides (Greece), Die geliebten Schwestern by Dominik Graf (Germany), and Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) by Alain Resnais, a living classic of European cinema, the maker of the legendary Hiroshima mon amour, a representative of the French New Wave.

The main jury includes the US screenwriter and producer, James Schamus (jury president); the Hong Kong star Tony Leung; a no less famous American Christoph Waltz; the French director Michel Gondry; the American film producer Barbara Broccoli; actresses Trine Dyrholm (Denmark) and Greta Gerwig (USA), and the Iranian film director Mitra Farahani.

This year’s competition is clearly Germany-centered: seven films are made in the host country. Our film directors do not take part in any festival lineups. Yet the Ukrainian theme is still represented – the parallel contest “Panorama” will show a documentary, My Mother, a War, and Me (Germany). The director Tamara Trampe (in collaboration with Johann Feindt) tries to disclose the mystery of her birth and find her father, a Russian officer who missed in action during World War Two. As it occurs in such cases, a personal history turns into a reconsideration of the history of humankind. Tamara’s search brings her to Ukraine and makes her look into our collective war-related traumas.

It will be recalled that the festival’s top prize – the Golden Bear – is awarded for the best film, the Jury Grand Prix for a picture that has not won, for one reason or another, the “gold’ but was a worthy rival to the winner, and Silver Bears for the best direction, the best script, and to the best actress and actor. There is also the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement which may be awarded to a director of photography, a costume designer, an editor, or a composer. Of special prestige is Alfred Bauer Prize for a work of particular innovation. The Best Debut prize has also been awarded since 2006. Finally, the Honorary Golden Bear was awarded this year to Ken Loach, the master of British social realism. The other winners will be announced on February 16.

There will be our correspondent at Berlinale 2014, and Den/The Day readers will be able to receive first-hand information about the main events at one of Europe’s largest film festivals.

By Dmytro DESIATERYK, The Day, Berlin – Kyiv