The first films of the Berlin Critics’ Week 2020
The city as a French battle zone, from Romanian star to Serbian diva, a ghost from the Nigerian past, Brazilian stories of violence, a Spanish summer with a water shortage, the hammock as a vantage point in Venezuela, birds singing in ancient Greek, and an Austrian surprise. The first films of the 6th Berlin Critics’ Week at a glance.
The Critics’ Week 2020 opens with an evening programme dedicated to Auto Agitation. A short analogue video work by the German filmmaker Oliver Bassemir, also one of the guests of this year’s conference, sets the tone with an unconventional guided tour of Bordeaux, which exhibits a great fascination for uninviting urban spaces. A film that takes its dissatisfaction with the world very personally. The world premiere of “[Bordeaux], ma bile” is followed by the German premiere of “Ivana the Terrible“, a feminist comedy about a woman living in Romania, played by the film’s director. As the star, Ivana Mladenović (“Soldiers: Story from Ferentari”) returns to her hometown in Serbia, but stumbles from one mishap to the next. The casual mise en scène is at once reminiscent of mockumentaries and of intense portraits of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
By screening “The Lost Okoroshi“, the Critics’ Week once again turns the spotlight on a Nigerian film. After “Green White Green” (Critics’ Week 2017), this is Abba T. Makama’s second feature, which brims with fantastic ideas and clumsy heroes. The dreams of good-for-nothing Raymond are haunted by his ancestors until one day they turn his life fully upside down. We are screening the film alongside the Brazilian entry “Seven Years in May” by Affonso Uchôa (“Arábia”). Dealing with human abysses, kidnappings and torture in a space somewhere between performance, fiction and documentary, the film never lets itself get caught up in a fascination with violence. On the contrary, Uchôa seeks the moment of dignity in the act of witnessing. Instead of giving this evening a theme, we are testing a new format. The program is intended to inspire a debate between two critics.
Another German film in the programme is called “For the Time Being“, Salka Tiziana’s graduation film at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts, which she shot in a Spanish mountain landscape. A slow, contemplative summer film about modern absurdities and about the way that time in summer sometimes melts, sometimes expands. While vacationing on the finca, there is a water shortage because the children want the pool filled. Luis Arnías, whose “Malembe” premieres at this year’s Critics’ Week, is a master at playing with the conventions of narrative condensation. It will screen alongside “For the Time Being” on the final evening, under the heading of Slow Cinema Fast. Arnías’ experimental family film, made in Venezuela and the USA, looks at the world as if lying in a hammock, swinging calmly and at times swiftly.
The “Common Birds“, whose dialogue is spoken and sung in ancient Greek and whistled in Silbo Gomero, is a crazy journey from a grey Athens to a flourishing, bright green forest. Two indebted men first go looking for paradise, then they meet a bird with whom they get along splendidly. The directing duo Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson (“Facs of Life” and “In Search of UIQ”) have put together a feather-light pamphlet and a radical experimental arrangement: out with the outdated, in with the outsized. The film features in a double bill with a surprise film that Vienna’s Diskollektiv is bringing along to coincide with the theme Trouble Feature: “There exists political potential in the dissent between two distinctive films from different corners of discourse.” Diskollektiv are hosting the evening, the Critics’ Week are guests. This relinquishing of curatorial control is also intended as a continuation of the opening conference ‘Cinema plural’, held on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Theaterdiscounter, for which a call for proposals was published and which will offer a forum for the concerns of old friends and new acquaintances.
The first programmes at a glance
Thursday Feb 20th
[BORDEAUX], MA BILE
Dir. + DOP: Oliver Bassemir, DE/FR 2019, 10 min., French/English OwEs – World Premiere
IVANA THE TERRIBLE (IVANA CEA GROAZNICA)
Dir.: Ivana Mladenović, C: Ivana Mladenović, Luka Gramić, Gordana Mladenović, Miodrag Mladenović, Kosta Mladenović, DOP: Carmen Tofeni, RO/SRB 2019, 86 min., Romanian/Serbian OwEs – German Premiere
Friday Feb 21st
Dir.: Silvia Maglioni, Graeme Thomson, C: Kostas Vassardanis, Tassos Raptis, Rinio Kyriazi, Ana Luz Arteaga, DOP: Thomas Favel, Graeme Thomson, Panagiotis Vasilakis, FR/GR 2019, 84 min., Ancient Greek OwEs – German Premiere
SURPRISE SCREENING / ÜBERRASCHUNGSFILM
Kuratiert vom Diskollektiv Wien
Sunday Feb 23rd
SEVEN YEARS IN MAY (SETE ANOS EM MAIO)
Dir.: Affonso Uchôa, C: Rafael dos Santos Rocha, Wederson Neguinho, Leonardo Ferreira, Maicon Felipe, Magno Pires, DOP: Lucas Barbi, BR/AR 2019, 42 min., Portuguese OwEs – German Premiere
THE LOST OKOROSHI
Dir.: Abba Makama, C: Judith Audu, Seun Ajayi, Tope Tedela, Ifu Ennada, Chiwetalu Agu, DOP: Mike Omonua, NG 2019, 92 min., Igbo / Pidgin / English OwEs – German Premiere
Thursday Feb 27th
SLOW CINEMA FAST
FOR THE TIME BEING (TAL DÍA HIZO UN AÑO)
Dir.: Salka Tiziana, C: Melanie Straub, Jon Bader, Ole Bader, Amalia Amián del Pino, Pilar del Pino, DOP: Tom Otte, DE/ES/CH 2020, 71 min., Spanish / German / English OwEs
Dir. + DOP: Luis Arnías, C: Manuela Maldonado, Maya Maldonado, Kathy Maldonado, Kimberly Forero-Arnías, Eva Arnías, VE/US 2020, 12 min., without dialogue – World Premiere