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Berlinale 2014

logo.FilmNewEurope together with FIPRESCI offered ratings of feature-length films in all sections, submitted by international critics. See the results.

logo.Supported by renowned film-journalists, eight young critics wrote daily on the festival. Read their texts.

Meine Berlinale.Our Russian colleague Andrei Plakhov presented his view on the two and half Berlinale decades which he had attended: "Meine Berlinale" ("My Berlinale") is the title of his book. It offers a chronology of films and events, and unfolds the political backgrounds and contexts of the festival, in particular in times when it worked as a bridge between East and West. Published in German and Russian editions by Euphoria UG.

Life of Riley.
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"The Life of Riley"
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The Way He Looks.
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"The Way He Looks"
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Forma.
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"Forma"

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, Miklos Jancso 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)

Berlin (Germany, Berlinale, February 6-16, 2014). The jury presented the Critics' Prize to a film each in the international competition and in the Panorama and the Forum sections. Prize, competition: Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter) by Alain Resnais (France, 2013). Prize, Panorama: The Way He Looks (Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho) by Daniel Ribeiro (Brazil, 2014). Prize, Forum: Forma by Ayumi Sakamoto (Japan, 2013). Jury members: Michel Ciment, France, president ("Positif", "France Culture"), Dubravka Lakic, Serbia ("Politika"), Hauvick Habechian, Lebanon ("An-Nahar"), Lesley Chow, Australia ("Brigh Lights Film Journal", "The Age"), Paulo Portugal, Portugal ("Correio da Manha", "SOL"), Sophie Charlotte Rieger, Germany ("Kino-Zeit.de"), Mihai Fulger, Romania ("Observator Cultural", "Cultura"), Luuk Imhann, The Netherlands ("cineville.nl"), Bettina Schuler, Germany ("ray — Filmmagazin"). Coordination: Katharina Dockhorn, Germany. Print sources. "Life of Riley", World sales: Le Pacte, Paris, T +33 1 44695959, sales@le-pacte.com. — "The Way He Looks", World sales: Films Boutique, Berlin, T +49 30 69537850, info@filmsboutique.com. — "Forma": Free Stone Productions Co., Tokio, T +81 90 91028671, miyuki.takamatsu@freestone.jp
Festival: www.berlinale.de

Reports

"Life of Riley" (Aimer, boire et chanter). Michel Ciment writes on Renais' last film: "At once rigorous in its stylistic devices and plot developments and wildly free, the film testifies to an artist who loves to play games, to give free rein to his imagination and, above all, to celebrate life, even in the presence of death." arrow.
The Pre-Lit Film. Aesthetics of Shadow, the retrospective at this year's Berlinale, is based on the work of scholar Daisuke Miyao, who has identified a link between German expressionism and early Japanese cinema. Lesley Chow on the retro arrow.
A Touching Look at an Isolation. Paulo Portugal writes about the Brazilian movie "The Man of the Crowd": "We experience the loneliness of the metropolis Belo Horizonte, which is touched with the possibility of romantic opportunity. This is a free adaptation of the classic short story by Edgar Allan Poe." arrow.
The Power of Subtlety. Sophie Charlotte Rieger writes on the gay and/or transsexual-themed movies in this year's Panorama, and focuses particularly on the FIPRESCI Prize winning The Way He Looks. The film "can be described as a gay love story, of which there are several in this year's selection. The fact that the main protagonist is a blind boy gives it a slightly different angle, but nevertheless the director deals with the story of two young men falling in love with each other." arrow.
Nothing is Real. Luuk Imhann discusses fictitious documentaries — The Nick Cave doc 20,000 Days on Earth, the Michel Gondry/Noam Chomsky film Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? and the fictional crime-documentary L'Enlévement de Michel Houellebecq (The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq). "At what point does film turn from documentary into fiction?" arrow.
From My Berlinale Diary. Dubravka Lakic writes about five films which she particularly noted: Life of Riley (Aimer, boire et chanter), '71, Stratos (To mikro psari)and), Macondo — all in the Competition, and in the Panorama, The Decent One (Der Anständige). arrow.
Tormented Childhood. If there was an omnipresent theme at this year's Berlinale, it was tormented childhood: children who pay the price for the rashness, neglect and fighting of adults. Read Hauvick Habechian's view on three films, among them Richard Linklater's Boyhood. srrow.
A Walk on the Wild Side. "Forma, Ayumi Sakamoto's surprisingly mature first feature," writes Mihai Fulger in his review, "is not only a film about the problems of today's world, but also about eternal human truths, about what lies beneath our social facades and interactions." arrow.
Women and Work. Bettina Schuler on "Top Girl or La déformation professionnelle" arrow.
Tenderness and Sensibility. The FIPRESCI Prize for the Panorama of the 64th Berlinale went to The Way He Looks (Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho) by Brazilian director Daniel Ribeiro. The film also received the Teddy Award for best feature dealing with homosexual themes, and placed second for the Panorama Audience Award. Myrna Silveira Brandão's interview with the director. arrow.

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Berlinale 2014

bullet.ö Index
bullet.ö "Life of Riley"
bullet.ö Shadow, Retro
bullet.ö Brazil
bullet.ö "Way He Looks"
bullet.ö Fictitious Docus
bullet.ö Diary
bullet.ö Tormented Childhood
bullet.ö "Forma"
bullet.ö "Top Girl"
bullet.ö Tenderness and Sensibility

Texts edited
by Lesley Chow

bullet.ö Talent Press