Berlinale Panorama Highlights
Panorama Top 3
This year’s Panorama is presenting 18 feature films in its main programme. From the start, the Panorama’s mission has been to discover films for the coming arthouse season and to provide the market with inspiration. The most interesting contributions of World Cinema come from Israel, Morocco and Bolivia this year.
Israel, 2009, 86 min, Hebrew
Director: Doron Paz, Yoav Paz
A film about urban escapism by first-time directors and brothers Yoav and Doron Paz. The film’s focus is Wainblum, a young man who, following a very public collapse, decides to turn his back on what he believes to be the chaos of life in the metropolis and withdraw instead into his apartment. All he needs to live is delivered to his door; television provides entertainment; food is ordered by phone and sex can be found on the internet.
And then, after four undisturbed years, two visitors intrude on his glorious seclusion. The first visitor is Grumps, an estate agent who has been ordered to oust Wainblum from his refuge by the landlord who wants to sell the apartment. Grumps is a tough Holocaust survivor who goes about his task with an iron will. Cheeky Daniela, on the other hand, is in market research. She thinks that Wainblum owns the apartment – and the two are soon embroiled in a passionate affair.
Wainblum has no intention of allowing either one to coax him out of his cocoon. His extreme agoraphobia and his reluctance to expose himself to the challenges of the outside world are as strong as his determination to stick it out in the apartment. He’s prepared to put up a fight – if necessary, to the bitter end.
Screenings on 18, 19 and 20 February, more info here.
The Man Who Sold The World
Morocco, 2009, 108 min, Arabic, French
Director: Swel Noury, Imad Noury
Casablanca in the near future. The country is at war.
X and Ney are young men of around thirty years of age. They live together and share a close relationship. Although they think of themselves as brothers, there is always a certain sexual tension between them. In spite of this, X falls in love with a beautiful young girl named Lili. When Ney meets Lili, he too falls in love with her, and this marks the beginning of a wonderful love triangle.
But X has high hopes; in fact, his dream of universal happiness is so strong that it prevents him from pursuing his personal happiness in the shape of marriage to Lili.
And this drives him to distraction.
For their film, young Moroccan filmmakers Swel and Imad Noury have chosen to adapt an early Dostoyevsky story that appeared in 1849. In this story, financial problems prevent the hero’s marriage to Lisanka, resulting in his descent into madness. Since their directorial debut HEAVEN’S DOORS (shown in the Panorama section of the Berlinale in 2006), these filmmaking brothers are widely regarded to be the enfants terribles of contemporary Moroccan cinema. In their new work they have succeeded in creating a modern cinematic adaptation that is both ‘universal’ and unique.
Screenings on 14, 15, 16 and 18 February, more info here.
Zona Sur (Southern District)
Bolivia, 2009, 109 min, Spanish, Aymara
Director: Juan Carlos Valdivia
Unlike many other cities where the mansions of the wealthy are to be found in the hills, the well-heeled citizens of La Paz live down in the city’s southern district. Here life goes on in large houses surrounded by stunning parks, undisturbed by noise, polluted air or commotion. It’s a dream world, one immense island of comfort, where two different spheres and perceptions of reality coexist side by side. On the one hand there’s Carola, the mother of Patricio, Bernada and Andrés who are rich and speak Spanish. On the other there is the staff of the house, Wilson and Marcelina, who speak Aymara, the indigenous language of the Bolivian proletariat.
The drama unfolds imperceptibly, without narrative sophistry and hidden twists. The story follows the family’s daily monotony until certain events put an end to their life of plenty. The film concentrates on the last days of an upper class family at a time when the country is gripped by colossal social upheaval.
Juan Carlos Valdivia: “My intention with this script was to move away from Aristotelian structure, i.e. a three-act script dominated by plot. ZONA SUR tells the story of its characters and the events that make up the inertia that leads naturally to the conclusion. I tried to tell an honest story, while taking a step away from easy discourses. This is what I call a Frankenstein family, made up of fragments of personal experiences and of people close to me. Although it is not an autobiography, it is personal.”
Screenings on 19, 20 and 21 February, more info here.