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Entries in Berlin (16)


TIFF: Berlin and Venice Winners, "Taxi" and "Desde Allá"

Amir continues our coverage of TIFF '15 with reviews of this year's Golden Bear and Golden Lion winners.

The studio Celluloid Dreams recorded a remarkable success this year by winning the top prize at all of Europe’s big three festivals. The journey started in Berlin with the Golden Bear for Taxi, continued into Cannes with the Palme d'or for Dheepan (review) and ended just last week with Venice's Golden Lion for Venezuela’s Desde Allá. Jafar Panahi’s Taxi is the film that piqued my interest most, both as an Iranian, and as a fan of the auteur’s complex career, which I have followed in real time since his first film—a children’s movie—back in 1995.

Taxi is filmed digitally with incredibly modest means, borne of the director’s complicated situation with government authorities...

Click to read more ...


European Film Awards - Vote for the 'People's Choice'

Have you ever been to Berlin? The annual European Film Awards will be held there this year just 102 days. As part of their annual tradition if you vote on their People's Choice Awards you can be entered to win a trip to the show.

This year's People's Choice slate (the only category thus far announced) feels slightly more "behind" than usual or perhaps we misremember past years? Generally the EFA titles are a mix of current and previous Oscar seasons (due to scattered release dates) but this year's batch feels especially 2014 heavy. On the down side this means it's less helpful in seeing which films are making inroads to general critics prizes and Oscar love down the road... in that they already have or haven't. On the plus side, potential voters will have seen more of them. YOU CAN VOTE RIGHT HERE... They also have an official facebook page up now.

The 10 Nominees...  

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence d. Roy Andersson
    Just announced as Sweden's Oscar submission! This auteur's unique 'vignettes in absurdist tableaus' sensibility must be experienced to be believed. Reviewed / Best of 2015 (Thus Far)
  • Force Majeure d. Ruben Östlund
    Sweden's acclaimed awards magnet was a big Oscar snub in the Foreign Film category last season... though it was up for Best Film at the EFAs. Is the American remake still planning to go ahead despite being a terrible idea? Reviewed / Blurbed / Top 20 of 2014 
  • The Imitation Game d. Morten Tyldum
    Last year's Best Picture contender qualifies as European because...? Perhaps it's the Norwegian director. But it's a US/UK production so it feels strange to see it here. Past Articles.  
  • Leviathan d. Andrey Zvyaginstev
    Russia's Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning hit last season. Past Articles.
  • Marshland d. Alberto Rodríguez
    A serial killer drama from Spain.

  • Samba d. Oliver Nakache & Eric Toledano
    Omar Sy (The Intouchables) and Charlotte Gainsbourg headline this French film about a struggling Senegalese immigrant and a woman trying to get her life back together
  • Serial (Bad) Weddings d. Philippe de Chauveron
    A French comedy about a Catholic couple whose four daughters all get married to men of different origins and religions
  • The Salt of the Earth d. Wim Wenders & Juliano Riberio Salgada
    Best Documentary Nominee at the Oscars. On the international journeys of Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Discussed
  • Victoria d. Sebastian Schipper
    Winner of 6 Lola Awards. Germany couldn't really select this hard-partying drama about a girl who gets mixed up in a bank robbery for their Oscar submission -- too much English in it -- but it's won raves and a lot of attention for its one take trick. That's right, a 140 minute movie all in one continuous shot without Birdman's tricks. Laia Costa and Frederick Lau star and took the German Oscars (the Lolas) for Best Actress and Best Actor.
  • White God d. Kornél Mundruczó
    Hungary's Oscar submission last season (not nominated), an allegorical film featuring rampaging packs of wild dogs, has been riveting moviegoers since its 2014 Cannes debut. Now on DVD. Reviewed / Interview

I'll have to choose between the two Swedish films for my personal vote. Who gets yours?



We Can't Wait! #9: Taxi

Jafar Panahi poses as a taxi driver in "Taxi"Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's Amir...

Who & What: Politically troubled Iranian auteur, Jafar Panahi, returns with his third film in four years. Any other director would be considered prolific with numbers like that, but consider that Panahi has managed it despite being under an official, though increasingly lenient, ban on filmmaking. His latest film, a realist comedy set in the confines of his car, stars him as a taxi driver whose interactions with his passengers form the narrative. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, making him the only Iranian filmmaker with two top prizes from the big three festivals – the first was Venice’s Golden Lion for The Circle.

Why We’re Excited About It: Panahi has been cranking out masterpieces with such regularity that his inventive, powerful cinema is often taken for granted, especially since his political situation pushed discussions about his films to the background. His insightful, heartfelt and often humorous social studies are some of the best films of the past two decades and Taxi seems to be a return to his earlier interests, after a couple of self-reflexive experiments. The reviews from Berlinale showered the film with unanimous praise, and coming off the best film of his career, Closed Curtain, Panahi continues to work at his very peak. (Nick Davis discussed that film and Panahi’s earlier work with me at length on the Hello Cinema podcast.)   

What If It All Goes Wrong: Before the film had its premiere, my only fear was whether the car setup of the film would read as gimmicky or become tiresome. Reviews suggest those fears were baseless. Otherwise, I don’t see how this can go wrong.  

Jury Chairman Darren Aronofsky presented Jafar Panahi's crying niece with the Golden Bear in his absence.

When: Specialty arthouse distributor, Kino Lorber, has acquired the North American rights. Whether they want to build renewed momentum in the fall festival circuit or capitalize on the film’s Berlin win earlier in the summer isn’t yet clear.

previously in 'we can't wait'


Binoche Has Gone Full Zhivago (65th Berlinale)

Berlinale cometh.

Not until February but Juliette Binoche is starting early since she's arriving by sled. But seriously that's the first image from the Opening Night film Isabel Croixet's Nobody Wants the Night. The film co-stars Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Gabriel Byrne (as explorer Robert Peary) and takes place in 1908 in the Arctic and Greenland. My Binoche comes in waves and recedes with the tide and such but it's big and full right now after her wonderful work in Clouds of Sils Maria which will open in the US eventually. Promises promises. Binoche is always so wonderful.

Competition films this year include: Andrew Haigh's 45 Years (his first since Weekend!), Andrea Dresen's As We Were Dreaming, Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella, Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Jayro Bustamante's Ixcanul Volcano, Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, and Alexey German''s Under Electric Clouds.

50 Shades of Grey will also premiere at the festival. But frankly, it just doesn't seem kinky enough for Berlin. The city, not the festival. 

I can never go to the Berlin International Film Festival because it hits just days after Sundance and concludes just a couple weeks before the Oscar. *sniffle*


Berlinale Wraps: Uma, Prizes, Foreign Film Oscar Hopefuls

Richard Linklater with his Silver BearOne of these years we will make it to the Berlinale! The festival closes today and things go quiet on the megawatt festival front until Cannes in May (though festival season never really ends what with regional festivals everywhere and Tribeca, which we'll cover, in the Srping).

Early English language punditry assumed that Richard Linklater's 12 year spanning Boyhood (my review) or Wes Anderson's reportedly delightful Grand Budapest Hotel would win but english language press always assumes that about American pictures. James Schamus jury thought otherwise, though they honored both with prizes, giving the Golden Bear to the Chinese noir Black Coal, Thin Ice. In fact, a lot of prizes went to Asian cinema this year.

Awards, Umas, and Oscar hopefuls after the jump...

Click to read more ...



I've been struggling and struggling to come up with something to say about Shia Labeouf's paper bag look at the Berlinale over the weekend. Thought it seems ready made for a meme -- think of all the has-beens that could be mocked! -- you wouldn't be able to tell who was being mocked once you'd photoshopped the bag over the head. 

I know only two things about this. First, that James Franco exploded when he saw it, both sexually aroused and furious that he hadn't thought of it first. Second, that at least one cinephile in each top film market will do this look for Halloween and not enough people will get the joke. 


Meet the Berlinale Jury

The 64th Berlinale begins today in Germany - a press conference for Grand Budapest Hotel is streaming right now. It's the second of the six most powerful and premiere-heavy festivals each year, which schedule like so: Sundance -January; Berlin -February; Cannes - May; and the September glut of Venice, Telluride & Toronto. Like most of the biggies Berlinale has multiple juries for multiple types of awards, major and niche. But here's the main competition jury presided over by former Focus Features chief James Schamus. 

The Jury, The Competition Films, and Oscar History after the jump

Click to read more ...