The 63rd Berlin International Film Festival or Berlinale is the sophisticated and well-travelled older sibling to Sundance. While the Berlinale may not attract the plethora of cool kids of the Indie film scene, it is highly regarded for its focus on extraordinary works of international cinema.
The Golden Bear is the highest honour at the festival, with winners in previous years including last year’s Oscar winner A Separation, the Japanese anime classic Spirited Away, Terrence Malick‘s The Thin Red Line and, in the early years of the festival, Jean-Luc Godard‘s Alphaville.
This year the eyes of the international film community are once again on Berlin, and here are a few of the films that caught our attention.
THE CROWD PLEASER
Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
Broken Circle Breakdown might not have won any Bears, but it’s certainly won a lot of attention from global distributors as well as being the Audience Award for Best Fiction 2013. Directed by Felix van Groeningen, this drama looks at a passionate relationship between two musicians – one a religious realist, the other a romantic atheist – and how their love and faith is tested when their six-year-old daughter is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This ‚Äúraw and real” drama spans the couple’s first meeting all the way to their daughter’s diagnosis and treatment, and is explored as a non-linear narrative.
THE CRITIC’S CHOICE
Child’s Pose (Romania)
Winner of this year’s Golden Bear, Child’s Pose tells the story of a domineering mother, Cornelia (played brilliantly by Luminita Gheorghiu), who takes the opportunity to reassert her control over her adult son when he is faced with a manslaughter charge for reckless driving. Child’s Pose is set in the glittery world of Romanian high society and has garnered favourable reviews for being an ‚Äúon-target, tragi-comic portrait‚Äù . The film’s balance between moments of wicked humour and then its climatic and dramatic finale have garnered praise from not only the critics but audiences as well. As always, the winner of the Golden Bear does not guarantee box office success, but it’s definitely a film to keep your eyes on.
THE QUIRKY COMEDY
Prince Avalanche (USA)
Sundance favourite (it narrowly missed our Sundance wrap up) Prince Avalanche got a second helping of love from the international film festival community at the Berlinale. Director David Gordon Green won the Silver Bear for Best Director for this comedy starring Hollywood darlings Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. The film centres on two Texas highway workers at a crossroad in their lives, as they paint markings on a seemingly endless road. The tedious nature of the task allows for moments of humour and witty bickering, which make for a compelling and quirky oddball comedy. Prince Avalanche is a remake of a 2011 Icelandic film Either Way. This marks a departure from the usual comedy style of Gordon Green, who most recently directed Pineapple Express and Your Highness.
THE MOST ANTICIPATED