The film selection of the Berlin Critics’ Week 2022
What does Filipino punk have to do with feminism and Shakespeare? How is cinephilia related to Brazilian telenovelas and fetishes? What does the freedom of art have to do with labour, sex and rock ‘n’ roll? How does cinema overcome the obstacles of history with new images? How can criticism and filmmaking know the past and yet be completely of the moment? Do audiences only believe what they see, and in cinema is the proof of the pudding truly in the eating? And finally: new and old discuss the revolt of the analogue in the digital present. The film programme of the 8th Critics’ Week is complete.
The Berlin Critics’ Week 2022 will take place from February 9 to 17. The film programme begins on Thursday, February 10, at Hackesche Höfe Kino.
The closing programme of this year’s Berlin Critics’ Week will be legendary: Under the title Mythunderstanding, we discuss what provokes filmmakers and performers to reinterpret the most visible stories and heroines in the history of art – and through which means cinema itself creates modern myths. Moving between classicism and punk, we show Khavn’s new film-poem Love Is a Dog from Hell, followed by Sycorax, the first joint directorial effort from Lois Patiño and Matías Piñeiro. Khavn follows his recent collaboration with Alexander Kluge by directing German actress Lilith Stangenberg in an infernal musical as Orpheus’ singing twin sister, who searches for her lover between Manila and the underworld. Sycorax traces the powerful witch from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, who never appears in the play itself. Working with amateur actresses to follow her trail, the directors have created an enigmatic marvel that resonates deeply and offers no resolution.
Under the title Footage Fetish, we welcome an icon of experimental and Brazilian cinema: Júlio Bressane. We present his new film Capitu and the Chapter, a free adaptation of Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, the genre-defining Brazilian novel about lust, jealousy and paranoia. Bressane taps the book’s legacy, charting the distance between novelas and telenovelas, between literary classics and the huge productions of contemporary Latin American soap operas. His film will be part of a meeting of generations: Capitu and the Chapter screens with André Antônio’s short Venus in Nykes, kicking off a debate on established and emerging auteurs in Brazilian independent cinema; on voyeurism, film fetish and cinephilia; on Antiono’s work with and against film history; and on Bressane’s particular approach to his own image archive.
We took the liberty: In collaboration with Georgian director Dea Kulumbegashvili, who attracted the attention of international critics with her feature debut Beginning, Petra Palmer and Dennis Vetter from our collective have curated a programme of three films which put notions of freedom to the test. After the screening of Azul Aizenberg’s The Stonebreakers, Friday Night Stand by Jan Soldat and Inu-Oh by Masaaki Yuasa, we enter into a debate on the liberties and libertinage of cinema, and we speculate on unleashed bodies, workers revolts, rampant montage, sexual self-determination and rock ‘n’ roll. In her essay film, Azul Aizenberg questions that which seemingly belongs together in film history, Jan Soldat shows gay men having sex, and the Japanese visionary Masaaki Yuasa reinterprets his country’s past as an unbridled rock musical. The title of the evening: Libertine!
The program Tripping leads to urban and aesthetic detours, to political ways out and to another debate, inspired by Ekaterina Selenkina’s Detours and by Nosferasta: First Bite , whose co-directors, Adam Khalil and Bayley Sweitzer, realised their film in collaboration with the Trinidadian musician, artist, and chef, Oba. Landing between experimental comedy, documentary essay and postcolonial horror, Khalil and Sweitzer’s vampire film sets their protagonist moving through contemporary New York, where the influences of the bloodsucker Christopher Columbus still reverberate. In Detours, the title says it all: While Ekaterina Selenkina follows a dealer through Moscow, she develops a sophisticated dramaturgy that sketches a topography of the city and highlights the structures of Russian society, both abstract and concrete. We look forward to a debate on the unpredictability of cinema, on cinematic pitfalls and curatorial one-way streets.
For three years, we have been exploring a debate format that focuses entirely on the perspectives of film critics: In another Critics’ Debate, we invite international scribes to mince no words and respond candidly to Pascale Bodet’s absurdist comedy Edouard and Charles, which we show with Norbert Pfaffenbichler’s experimental horror film 2551.01. While Bodet translates art history into an historical fantasy, Pfaffenbichler formulates an homage to cinema, charging classical film forms with the energy of contemporary political struggles. Entirely in the spirit of Foucault, who once wrote: “Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the lightning of possible storms.”
We have already announced our collaboration with directors Želimir Žilnik and Ute Adamczewski for a jointly curated program. They have chosen two films that will gain a new context at the Berlin Critics’ Week, freely curated without premiere constraints: The short experimental film Triple-Chaser was made in collaboration between the research collective Forensic Architecture and Laura Poitras’s production company Praxis Films, and it represents part of a broader political and legal work in which art is nonetheless more than a means to an end. In 2019, the group’s work in relation to the Whitney Biennial forced the resignation of Warren B. Kanders, at that time a board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art. We discuss the group’s practice in relation to the feature-length film Rights of Man by Spanish director Juan Rodrigáñez (The Money Complex), which uses a performance group, a circus tent, and 35 16mm reels to work in a completely improvisational manner, exploring human creativity. Under the title The Proof is in the Pudding, we position cinema at the nexus of fact, fiction, ethics and taste to explore in which sense a logic of proof matters in art, activism, and life.
Finally, the jazzy program Losing Transmission opens a debate about the standards by which aesthetic forms are read as political today, and asks whether an analogue film practice is automatically resistant in the digital era. Starting with Notes for a Déjà Vu by the Mexican collective Los Ingrávidos, followed by The Dream and the Radio by Renaud Després-Larose and Ana Tapia Rousiouk, we will discuss how cinema can transpose the private into the political, and vice versa. We want to find out whether seemingly outdated cultural techniques such as radio merely arouse nostalgia now and to explore the political potential of seemingly apolitical attitudes and actions such as melancholy and drifting aimlessly through the night.
Members of the selection committe
At the Berlin Critics’ Week, we follow the principle of rotating selection committee members. Together with collective members Istvan Gyöngyösi and Dennis Vetter and the Critics’ Week co-founder Dunja Bialas, this year the film critics Lucía Salas and Victor Guimarães have shaped the film selection.
Lucía Salas is an Argentinian writer, programmer, and filmmaker based in Spain. She is co-editor of the film magazine La vida útil, selection committee member of the Punto de Vista (Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de Navarra), a teacher in the curatorial studies program at Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola and a collaborator with Con Los Ojos Abiertos, Jugend ohne film, Viennale, IFFR’s Critic’s Choice, DocumentaMadrid, DocLisboa, Margenes, among others. She has co-directed the nonfiction feature Implantación (2016) and several short films together with the film collective LaSiberia Cine. She studied Image and Sound Design at the University of Buenos Aires, has an MA in Aesthetics and Politics from CalArts (thanks to a Fulbright-Ministry of Education scholarship), and is currently a PhD candidate at the Communications program in the CINEMA department at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Victor Guimarães is a film critic and programmer based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has written regularly for Cinética (Brazil) and Con Los Ojos Abiertos (Argentina). He has collaborated with international film publications such as Senses of Cinema, Desistfilm, La Furia Umana, Kinoscope, La Vida Útil and Cahiers du Cinéma. As a programmer, he was one of the artistic directors of the Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival (2014), a member of the selection committee at forumdoc.bh (2012 to 2015) and a programmer at Tiradentes Film Festival (2019). He is currently a programmer for FICValdivia (Chile) and the artistic director of FENDA – Experimental Festival of Film Arts (Brazil). He has curated retrospectives and special programmes for festivals such as 3 Continents (France) and Frontera Sur (Chile). He holds a PhD in Communications/Film Studies from UFMG, with a doctoral internship at Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris 3).
An overview of all programmes
CAPITU AND THE CHAPTER (CAPITU E O CAPÍTULO)
R: Júlio Bressane, BR 2021, 75 Min.
VENUS IN NYKES (VÊNUS DE NYKE)
R: André Antônio, BR 2021, 41 Min.
DETOURS (OBKHODNIYE PUTI)
R: Ekaterina Selenkina, RU/NL 2021, 73 Min.
NOSFERASTA: FIRST BITE
R: Adam Khalil & Bayley Sweitzer with Oba, US 2021, 33 Min.
NOTES FOR A DÉJA VU
R: Colectivo Los Ingrávidos, MX 2021, 22 Min.
THE DREAM AND THE RADIO (LE RÊVE ET LA RADIO)
R: Renaud Després-Larose, Ana Tapia Rousiouk, CA 2022, 135 Min.
THE STONEBREAKERS (LAS PICAPEDRERAS)
R: Azul Aizenberg, AR 2021, 16 Min.
FRIDAY NIGHT STAND
R: Jan Soldat, DE/AT 2021, 11 Min.
R: Masaaki Yuasa, JP/CN 2021, 98 Min.
Streitgespräch / Critics’ Debate
EDOUARD AND CHARLES (VAS-TU RENONCER ?)
R: Pascale Bodet, FR 2021, 72 Min.
R: Norbert Pfaffenbichler, AT 2021, 65 Min.
The Proof is in the Pudding
RIGHTS OF MAN (DERECHOS DEL HOMBRE)
R: Juan Rodrigáñez, ES 2018, 76 Min.
R: Forensic Architecture, Praxis Films, GB/US 2019, 10 Min.
LOVE IS A DOG FROM HELL (ASONG IMPIYERNO ANG PAG-IBIG)
R: Khavn de la Cruz, PH/DE 2021, 92 Min.
R: Lois Patiño, Matías Piñeiro, ES/PT 2021, 20 Min.