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October 23, 2021

19 films in race for Golden Bear

The Berlin Film Festival rose the curtain for its 63rd edition at the Berlinale Palace, Marlene Dietrich Square, on Thursday, Feb 7, unveiling lots of surprises including an avalanche of films, meetings with international stars and debates on the prospects of the “seventh art” Among the scores of films to be shown, 19 will vie for the much coveted Golden Bear, grabbing the most media attention.

By Tudor Caranfil in Berlin

We start off with Before Midnight, directed by American director Richard Linklater, since behind this film there are precedents, of which the first dates back to 1994, when Linklater directed Before Sunrise, a love story born in a Vienna-bound train between a Texas journalist and a French student. In the roles of the two lovers, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who also starred in a 2003 sequel, Before Sunset, which picks up the story nine years after the events of the first film, with the two protagonists spending the night walking around the city and getting to know each other. Here comes the 2013 sequel, Before Midnight, where Linklater sends the two protagonists amidst the vestiges of ancient Greece. We’ll see what happens to them now at the Berlinale. One thing I sure though, they still love each other! Cause that’s how they do it in films!
Dutch director George Sluizer is another old presence at the Berlin Film Fest. This year, he comes up with Dark Blood, a posthumous, elegiac and belated film, which started in 1993, when its star, River Phoenix died of a heart attack during the shooting. Phoenix only had ten more days of shooting when he died, While for eighteen years, Sluizer appeared to have resigned himself to the project being shelved for good, nearly two decades later, obsessed with the theme, he used the old footage and the voice of Joaquim, the brother of the much regretted actor, for the scenes yet to be shot.
Gus Van Sant, too, is present at the Berlinale with Promised Land, his third collaboration with Matt Damon. Other entries include Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn (A Long and Happy Life) directed by Russian director Boris Hlebnikov (Koktebel), a drama film also awarded at Cluj’s TIFF, and also shown at several more festivals, also makes it to the Berlinale.  Prince Avalanche, David Gordon Green, is another premiere Sundance Film Festival three weeks ago.
In Camille Claudel in 1915, Bruno Dumont again approached the sculptress’s biography, yet not her romantic triumph over Auguste Rodin, as Bruno Nyuten did in the 1988 biopic, but her dramatic denouement. Whereas Adjani played Camille in the version 25 years ago, this time, it’s Juliette Binoche who plays the role.
Emmanuelle Bercot, director and screenwriter Polisse, was also invited to join the competition with Elle s’en va, where Catherine Deneuve plays a sexagenarian abandoned by her lover and in financial dire straits as well. Guillaume Nicloux’s La Religieuse is another Francophone French-Belgian-German co-production that takes us to a monastery in the 18th century. The French peloton is concluded by Canadian Denis Cote with the comedy Vic+Flo ont vu un ours where Roman Bohruinger plays one of the lead parts.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, a romance drama focusing on an impossible love, is the feature film debut American director Dante Ariola, and  Paradies: Hoffnung is the final installment in the erotic trilogy directed by Ulrich Seidl. The first, Paradies: Liebe, was shown at last year’s Cannes, the second sparked a scandal at La Mostra venetiana in 2012, and the third was left for the Berlinale in 2013. Steven Soderbergh Side Effects, a thriller centered on psychopharmacology – the study of drug consumption effects on the human brain,   is also eagerly expected. The competition section wraps up with Kazakh director Emir Baigazin’s Uroki Garmonii (Harmony Lessons).
Out of superstition, but also as a “la bonne bouche” I chose to conclude this article with “Child’s Pose” the Romanian film entry in the competition. Directed by Peter Netzer and starring Luminita Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache, the film is a psychological drama about a domineering mother. More about the film once it’s shown on Monday, Feb 11, when it will meet its viewers and destiny in Berlin, for the first time.

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