Berlin Film Festival 2018: Top ten films to look out for
The Berlin Film Festival constantly strives to bring in big Hollywood names and put them shoulder to shoulder with Art House cinema from all over the world. The organisers may have outdone themselves this year with the selection in the competition as well as their Panorama category. As your dedicated Upcoming correspondents, Sean Gallen and Oliver Johnston will be running breathlessly from screening to screening to cover as much as possible. We have selected a few of the films that will be discussed by the office water cooler and over summer BBQs this year. This is my selection (Sean!).
Utøya 22 Juli
An exploration into the chilling events of the Anders Behring Breivik massacre in Norway, asking the tough moral questions behind what motivates someone to execute a plan so devastating. I see a lot of similarities with Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, which examined the Columbine Massacre through a poetic lens.
Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger, who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Hugo Weaving has transformed himself for this role, in what is looking to be one of the most harrowing period films of the coming year.
After claiming a dying author’s work as his own and becoming famous, Bertrand (Gaspard Ulliel) struggles to write his follow-up work until he meets an escort (Isabelle Huppert) who completely mystifies him. I have to admit I am a huge Huppert fan and she has been on a roll the last couple of years with her choice of projects. This one will not disappoint.
Head of the Pack: If I had to look into my crystal ball to predict who will snag the illustrious Golden Bear, I see a promising future for these two gems.
Robert Pattinson follows his incredible performance in Good Time with Damsel, a deadpan minimalist Western comedy that tells the story of a foolhardy businessman who travels out West to join his fiancée in the mountains. R Pats is quickly becoming a favourite in the hearts of indie-film fans (mine included) for his dedication to picking the most radical roles.
In 1985, a group of criminals pinch 140 pre-Hispanic pieces from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City – is it a political statement or merely a shortcut to the ultimate jackpot? Gael Garcia Bernal leads the charge in this alluring and intellectual heist film.
As Sean pointed out, we will be running quite literally from screening to screening. Berlinale is the largest public film festival in the world, different from Cannes, Venice, Toronto and the other big hitters in that anyone can buy a ticket. Berlinale 2017 saw a grand total of 1,085 individual screenings, and 2018 should rival that. There is a bit of a Berlinale backlash from key figures in the German film industry, suggesting that the festival has lost its direction, even become a bit bloated. Try telling that to the thousands of people who wait in line for tickets, or those who missed their chance and hang around outside festival venues with a handwritten sign asking if anyone wants to actually sell their tickets. These are my picks for the hottest tickets of Berlinale 2018.
A young widow moves to the coast in 1950s England to open a bookshop, only to be met with resistance from the fuddy-duddy locals. It sounds like the sort of thing a grandmother would love, featuring performances from Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy. And yet The Bookshop is directed by the intriguing and often edgy Isabel Coixet, so all is probably not as it seems.
Ondes de Choc – Journal de Ma Tête (Shock Waves – Diary of My Mind)
Student Benjamin Feller writes a detailed diary entry about how he plans to murder his parents, posts the diary to his teacher, and then carries out the gruesome act. His teacher Esther (an always luminous Fanny Ardant) struggles to understand why, while authorities wonder how much she knew. Ondes de choc – Journal de ma tête should make for compelling, if uncomfortable viewing.
Das Schweigende Klassenzimmer (The Silent Revolution)
An examination of the nation’s past (and culpability) is hardly a new development in German cinema. And yet Das Schweigende Klassenzimmer seems to be taking a somewhat different approach. High School students in the GDR visit West Berlin where they see disturbing footage of the political uprising in Hungary in 1956. Returning to the East, they try to commemorate the victims whose fate they’ve seen, only to be met by a strong backlash by their school and the GDR itself. Inspired by a true story, the film looks to be an interesting depiction of how information can be withheld to help shape ideologies.
The greed is good mentality was popularised in the 1980s, and now decades later it seems that greed is not measured in terms of positivity, it has simply become a normal facet of behaviour in the developed world. The documentary Generation Wealth looks at mass consumerism, and the hunger for wealth and status that has become a driving factor in so many societies. Expect to see a lot of narcissists who you might well want to slap.
Isle of Dogs
After the delightful Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson returns to stop-motion animation with Isle of Dogs. It’s about dogs. Dogs! Not only that, but about the unbreakable connection humans can have with dogs. It’s Wes Anderson. It has the voices of Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson, and Bryan Cranston. It will be adorable and moving. It will be a movie that you and your friends will quote for years to come.
Sean Gallen and Oliver Johnston