Berlinale 2020 – A Mirror of the 21st Century

Berlinale 2020 – One Year After Kosslik

The charismatic head of the Berlinale, Dieter Kosslik left after 18 years with amazing successes attached to his name but also growing criticism about the programming of the festival.

Instead of finding another Jack of all trades, the Berlinale decided to split the position into artistic director (Carlo Chatrian, coming from the Locarno film festival) and executive director (Mariette Rissenbeek, leaving her managing position at German Films behind). With those two settling in, it was time to shake some things up. Gone are some of the very specific sections like the CULINARY and the INDIGENOUS cinema. They were replaced by the new ENCOUNTERS section, that is giving room to ideas and cinematic languages, we don’t find in the more established sections.

According to Carlo Chatrian Encounters serves as a “mirror of the 21st century”.

So how was the “new Berlinale”? It certainly felt different! More somber, a little less flashy. Kosslik was a larger than life persona with a perfect understanding of the impact of glitz and glamour for our cold and grizzly winter festival. The new directors are taking a different strategy, stressing the importance of film making over movie stars on red carpets. And while that is a valid approach, it just isn’t as much fun.

Still the mainstake in “doing” the Berlinale remained the same – finding new and exciting movies from all over the world.

My discoveries of this year’s festival?

For years I have been a very vocal advocate of the GENERATIONS section of the Berlinale and once again my favourite movies were from the so called “films for young audiences”. While it is sometimes questionable why certain movies end up in this particular part of the festival, I am just so happy that I got the chance to see my favourite 3 movies (in no particular order):

 

Jumbo

The story about a young woman falling in love with an object, a fairground ride! It sounds pretty crazy, but in the end this film is quite simply about accepting, that the idea of love is something totally unique, only defined by the person and not by society, expectations or norms. The luminous Noémi Merlant as Jeanne makes you understand her very special love and her determination to live the relationship that makes her feel the way she feels.

Jumbo team on stage

Bravo to director Zoé Wittock for never betraying her story or her characters and showing the humanity in the most bizarre circumstances.

 

Paradise Drifters

Paradise Drifters

3 young, people on the outskirts of society, each struggling with different problems, meet by chance and form a bond that will define their future. It sounds a bit “been there, done that”, but first time feature helmer Mees Peijnenburg has a great hand in bringing out performances from his young cast, that are astounding. Jonas Smulders, Bilal Wahib and above all Tamar von Waning are raw, soulful and strong. Their perils feel real, there are no fake twists and turns. It’s not super hero movie making but story telling of our times and circumstances. It will make you think about “those people” differently. 

Paradise Drifters

Alice Junior

Alice Junior

When the well-adjusted and confident trans girl Alice has to move to a Brazilian province with her father, she has to use all her wits to fight outside prejudice. In the end she finds friends for life. What could have been a sad and bitter social justice tale with all the usual tropes, is in fact a celebration of life with love, friendship, colours, emojis and still some hard hitting truths – a total crowd pleaser! At my screening there were standing ovations and the Q&A lasted 40 minutes.

Team of Alice Junior

Blogger Anne Celestino Mota is a star and I would hope to see her again.

Maybe the team will reunite for Alice Junior 2!

Honourable mentions:

Goddess of the fireflies  

Yalda, a night for forgiveness

It just goes to show: never judge a movie by the label that it is given!

Look for the stories, which intrigue, excite and make you think.

Keep going to see GENERATIONS at the Berlinale!